H.G. Wells' Miniature War Games

Stream: Session E
Date: Thursday, 21 July 2022
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.30 pm
Speaker(s): Chris Danta

The Desert Daisy references games. It tells the comical story of a war between the King of Clubs and the King of Spades. At the beginning of the text, the King of Clubs is playing the game of pushpin. In my paper, I develop a reading of The Desert Daisy as a miniature war game that we can imagine the young Wells first staging with his toy soldiers on the floor at 47 High Street, Bromley. Wells provides a detailed map in the text of the countries of the Clubs, Spades and Hearts. I read this map as a spatial analogue of the floor. Wells writes in his 1911 text Floor Games: “The jolliest indoor games for boys and girls demand a floor, and the home that has no floor upon which games may be played falls so far short of happiness. It must be a floor covered with linoleum or cork carpet, so that toy soldiers and such-like will stand up upon it…. Upon such a floor may be made an infinitude of imaginative games, not only keeping boys and girls happy for days together, but building up a framework of spacious and inspiring ideas in them for after life.” Reading The Desert Daisy as a fictional realisation of one of Wells’ indoor floor games will enable me to identify the logic of miniaturisation upon which much of the text turns.

CHRIS DANTA is an ARC Future Fellow and Professor of English at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. His research operates at the intersection of literary theory, philosophy, science and theology. He is the author of Literature Suspends Death: Sacrifice and Storytelling in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot (Bloomsbury, 2011) and Animal Fables after Darwin: Literature, Speciesism, and Metaphor (Cambridge University Press, 2018).