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The Croquet Player Paperback – December, 1998

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Paperback, December, 1998
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 51 pages
  • Publisher: Trent Editions (December 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 090548889X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0905488899
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.7 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,885,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


The Croquet Player is one of the most popular of Wells’ later novellas. It is considered a modern classic. . . . This edition features a thoughtful dissection of the novella by John Huntington.”—The H.G. Wells Society, The Americas
(The H.G. Wells Society, The Americas)

"Without a doubt, the fine, readable edition recently issued from the University of Nebraska’s Bison Frontiers of Imagination series (it has generous margins and a thoughtful, useful afterward by John Huntington of the University of Illinois) is surely the one to purchase and curl up with on a rainy night, as one prepares to encounter yet another fascinating production from the prodigious mind of the found of science fiction."—Jason Gleckman, Science Fiction Studies
(Jason Gleckman Science Fiction Studies) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Something is horribly wrong in the remote English village of Cainsmarsh. An elderly woman stiffens in dread at her own shadow; a terrified farmer murders a scarecrow; food prepared by others is eyed with suspicion; family pets are bludgeoned to death; loving couples are devoured by rage and violence. A spirit-corrupting evil pervades the land, infesting the minds of those who call Cainsmarsh home. Is this vision real, or a paranoid fantasy generated by an even darker, worldwide threat? And is the call to resist the danger itself a danger? These are questions that disturb the calm of an indolent croquet player who happens to hear the tale of the unlucky village.

H. G. Wells’s ambiguous story of horror is a modern classic, a prophetic, disturbing glimpse of the primitive distrust and violence that gnaw at the heart of the modern world.

The prodigious literary visions of H. G. Wells (1866–1946) are cornerstones for today’s science fiction and fantasy. His novels include The Sleeper Awakes, In the Days of the Comet, The Last War, and The War in the Air, all available in Bison Books editions. John Huntington is a professor of English at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is the author of The Logic of Fantasy: H. G. Wells and Science Fiction and the editor of The H. G. Wells Reader: A Complete Anthology from Science Fiction to Social Satire. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
I give five stars to "The Croquet Player" by HG Wells not only because it is one of his better, more symbolically controlled works, but because of its overall modern styling & texture. In a mere novella, Wells is able to build up a powerful character analysis that still has far-reaching implications to Western Civilization. Of course, much of the finesse of the narrative is in its openness of interpretation. When I read this book, I think of Orson Welles directing the action in his high, sinister style. The narrative is framed by a man in his thirties whose life has been shaped by his single aunt's wealth. They are excellent croquet players, & live a life of ease. One day meets a man on a terrace, a man with an unusual story. From there it gets more & more intense--& then another man appears--& suddenly answers & questions become indistinguishable! The role of croquet is skillfully understated yet poignant, culminating in more than an evening's worth of introspection/discussion. One of the better writings of Wells', challenging any living writer to express timeless ideas so artistically & succinctly. Plus, for the time investment, this book gives a thousand times back in stimulation!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
H.G. Wells is one of my favorite authors, and so it was with no small thrill that I discovered this relatively unknown work of his in my local library. At under 100 pages, it is a one-sitting story, and I plowed through it quickly.

Our first-person narrator is a croquet player, an Englishman raised by his wealthy aunt. While sitting on a terrace at a resort of sorts, he strikes up a conversation with a doctor. The doctor feels the need to get a weight off his chest, and our croquet player agrees to hear him out. Soon, the doctor works himself into a froth, worried about some Evil that lurks about the premises and beyond, something that others think even oozes up from the ground. The croquet player thinks over these things, then meets another doctor the next day. This doctor says the first man has been driven mad by the fears of modern man's violence and monstrous inclinations. But this doctor seems nearly as mad, his insanity wrapped in a sense of man's primitive past that has reared up through modern civilities and displayed its true colors.

Written between the two world wars, this novella is an attempt to study the dark side of human nature. Wells, devoted to evolutionary and Darwinistic theory, tries as he may to come up with an explanation for an evolving humanity that seems instead to be devolving on many levels. He makes a concerted attempt to debunk any religious types in his book (and in most of his books, for that matter), but he fails to come up with anything as frightening or believable as Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyl and Hyde symbolism. Sadly, his scientific effort at a metaphysical question comes up flat. Nevetheless, I love his scientific honesty to face the question at all.

In the end, the croquet player is given a choice between being a quiet, apathetic victim to this evil, or being a vigilante who fights against it. The croquet player's final decision is a telling and ironic one.
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