"I've got to a time of life," says the hero of a modern novel, "when the only theories that interest me are generalisations about realities," There are many contemporary observers who do not require advancing years and a wider experience of life to concentrate them upon so serious a study. It is not that they deliberately turn towards consideration of the meaning and progress of the actual life around them. It is that they cannot - with the best desire in the world - escape from such an encompassing problem. To those the only question before them is the present: the past but furnishing material through which that present can rightly be interpreted, the future appearing as a present which is hurrying towards them - impatient to be born. They ask for fact; not make-believe. With Thoreau, "Be it life or death," they will cry, "We crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business."
The following pages offer an attempt to estimate some of these "realities" in the life of contemporary England.