James Hilton (1900-1954) is most famous for his novels Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Lost Horizon. Recently my wife [1] happened to be reading a somewhat more obscure Hilton book, Random Harvest, written in 1941. In the midst of the story she was brought up short by an astoundingly prescient paragraph that perfectly fingers some of the leading banes of society today ... including suburban hyperdevelopment, ridiculous traffic, monster cars, and senseless alienation in the arts:

And amidst such gestures and opinions the postwar England took physical shape and permitted itself limited expression. By 1925 the main features were apparent: arterial roads along which the speculative builder was permitted to put up his 600-pound houses and re-create the problem the roads themselves had been designed to solve; the week-end trek to the coasts and country through the bottlenecks of Croydon and Maidenhead; the blossoming of the huge motor coach, and the mushrooming of outer suburbs until London almost began where the sprawling coast towns left off — while in bookshops and theaters the rage was for Michael Arlen and Noel Coward, two men whose deft orchestrations of nerves without emotions, cynicism without satire, achieved a success that must have increased even their own disillusionment.

(cf. DisAllusioned (8 May 2001), PopGoes (19 Jun 2001), BubbleBusters (6 Feb 2002), LetTrucksBeTrucks (9 Jul 2004), FeedOrFeedback (6 Sep 2004), ConspicuousAnticonsumption (17 Sep 2004), StrippedThreads (15 Nov 2004), SteadyStateEconomy (11 Jun 2005), ...)

TopicLiterature - TopicSociety - TopicEconomics - 2005-10-07

(correlates: SixProjectStages, FauxDumpster, CrystalsMudAndLife, ...)