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The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A short story discussion 
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 The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A short story discussion
The Magic Shop
by H.G. Wells

Read The Magic Shop for free online.




Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:25 am
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
What's meant by "rum" in this story? Odd? And how about "ansoms?"



Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:25 pm
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
Chris OConnor wrote:
What's meant by "rum" in this story? Odd? And how about "ansoms?"

I would guess that "rum" means odd here when the narrator uses it, although the store's proprietor also uses the word to describe the type of magic he sells. Is "ansoms" the word the weird magician taught Gip to animate the toy soldiers? Gip says the word "with exultation." I like the part of the story where the magician implies that the stuff coming out of the narrator's hat represents his own mental baggage, not an illusion created by the magician.
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He shook my hat, and shook out into his extended hand two or three eggs, a large marble, a watch, about half-a-dozen of the inevitable glass balls, and then crumpled, crinkled paper, more and more and more, talking all the time of the way in which people neglect to brush their hats INSIDE as well as out, politely, of course, but with a certain personal application. “All sorts of things accumulate, sir. . . . Not YOU, of course, in particular. . . . Nearly every customer. . . . Astonishing what they carry about with them . . . .”

What do we make of the narrator's caution in talking about the incident to his son? Does he fear having exposed his son to demonic powers and doesn't want to bring up the matter ?
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The intelligent parent will understand that I have to go cautiously with Gip.



Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:35 am
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
According to the Dictionary of British Slang, 'rum' means odd, peculiar or unusual. I am going to go back and read the story in print (listened to it last night on audio). As for 'ansoms,' from my reading, Cockney Brits tend to drop the h or add an unneeded one. I know this seems contradictory, but...? With that in mind, an 'ansom' could very well refer to a Hansom coach or cab, in common use at the time this story is set.

My overall reaction is that this was not one of Well's better stories, but I did enjoy it. More to follow later.


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Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:16 pm
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
I enjoyed it too but it wasn't one I'd suggest to people. Have you guys read any Jack London stories? I love man vs nature stuff.



Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:58 pm
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
Yes, I have read (in no partucular order) "Call of the Wild," "To Build a Fire," "The Strength of the Stong," and "The Star Rover." I particularly liked "The Strength of the Strong." Caveat; it's been a long time since I read any of them.


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Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:02 pm
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
I've read London's "The Sea-Wolf". It combines man vs. nature and man vs. man. Good stuff to read about, and to live with. Life's struggles.

But this is about H.G. Wells' The Magic Shop.

Sinister to say the least. I'm glad it is only fiction. In such a short form we go from innocent parlor tricks to the question of mythic evil.



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Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:21 pm
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
I agree with your assessment. The narrator, with his completely conventional ideas and, no doubt, entire faith in rational explanations, gets a disturbing glimpse into either himself or a wholly other world of spiritual happenings. Wells doesn't commit to which one it is. We're left wondering, just as the narrator is, whether the kid has been changed by an experience or is just continuing his childish make-believe with the toy soldiers. I think of the children in Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw." It was an effective story. This is the first Wells story I've read.



Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:43 am
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
DWill wrote:
I think of the children in Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw." It was an effective story. This is the first Wells story I've read.


I was reminded of "The Turn of the Screw" as well. 'The Magic Shop' in my reading falls in the genre of horror. Imagining the father attempting to walk in on the toy soldiers during an animated state hints at a descent into madness.

In reviewing the list of stories Wells is responsible for I'm surprised that I have not read any of his work other than this short story.
This is likely due to having seen the film adaptations of which there are more than several... including The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Food of the Gods.

Being the Si-fi fan that I am, I'm compelled now, to check-out, at least one of his novels.



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Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:53 am
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
Have you seen this guy's bibliography? How anyone manages to write this much, let alone publish it, boggles my mind. I have the impression that Wells' stuff is high in interest, but probably lacking in the qualities that make literary critics rate him very highly. I say "so what" to that. I've only read a few of his novels--the most well-known. They tend to be short and punchy.

When you read a short story, sometimes it opens you up to wondering about the rest of the writer's work.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells_bibliography



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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
Wells was indeed a very prolofic writer. Over the years I have read many of his novels and short stories. "The Magic Shop" definitely falls into the horror category; you can almost feel the father's worry and sense of dread. The father's description fo the shop as 'rum' meets the British slang use of the term, but the shopkeeper's use actually reminded me of the Australian 'fair dinkum.'


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Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:25 pm
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
Had to add this; for those who did not get enough H. G. Wells from "The Magic Shop," there is a book on Amazon, "The Complete Short Stories of H. G. Wells." It is unfortunately, rather pricey. My own local on-line library consortium also features "The Collected Short Stories of H.G. Well." Do not know if they are the same book. Just passing this along.


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Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:58 pm
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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
I enjoyed this short story. The fantasy themes in it are that magic is possible, and that things are not as they seem. The sceptical view that magic is only conjuring and trickery is cast into doubt by the performance of numerous impossible feats, and then sealed by the invisibility of the shop when the author and his son find themselves on the street with their magical purchases, but with the shop nowhere to be seen, pushing the author into a distinctly queer set of emotions, to use Wells’ archaism.

He is initially satisfied that the toy soldiers are inanimate, but later Gip his son explains that he has a magic spell that brings them to life. There is a strong quality of Harry Potter about this story, with the Hogwarts Station 9 ¾ only accessible by magic, and disappearing like the magic shop.

In my novel The Jug which I am publishing in weekly chapters here at Booktalk (without illustrations), I have used the device of rewriting classic stories against my own plot, with the prologue using HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds, recasting the unsympathetic Martians as sympathetic whales. Wells has a vivid and engaging writing style and a fertile imagination.


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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
Through the juxtaposition of the two reactions to magic, fear and wonderment, Wells explores the concept of growing out of "Magic". We interpret the story as a horror and the Shopman as an odd fellow that seems to have devious intentions because we have lost the enjoyment of magic.

I wonder if this story was read to a child whether they would interpret the Magic Shop as sinister or a "proper shop" as Gip did.


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Post Re: The Magic Shop by H.G. Wells - A discussion
Sal_McCoy wrote:
Through the juxtaposition of the two reactions to magic, fear and wonderment, Wells explores the concept of growing out of "Magic".


Yes, the child's innocence has no space for fear, while the father is instantly trying to process the impossible events against his rational experience, creating emotional dislocation and cognitive dissonance. There is a minor sense of suspense and plot tension while the shopkeeper is performing his magic tricks, but the reader's ability to suspend disbelief means that The Magic Shop is simply entertaining fantasy, looking to convey a moral lesson about the destruction of imagination and creativity and the narrowing of outlook that comes with so-called maturity.


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