The Time Machine: Overview

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Editor: D. L. Kirkpatrick
Date: 1991
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 996 words

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By the time it was published in book form H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, the best-known of his ``scientific romances,'' had already been serialized three times in very different, usually incomplete forms: as The Chronic Argonauts in Science Schools Journal (April-June 1888), and under its later title in National Observer (March-June 1894) and New Review (January-May 1895). It was further revised for Wells's Atlantic Edition (1924), which incorporated changes he marked in a copy some time in 1898 or 1899. Since 1895, Wells's ``assault on human self-satisfaction'' has never been out of print, and it has considerably influenced most 20th-century time-travel adventures. A contemporary of Wells, Israel Zangwill, said it presented ``a vision far more sombre and impressive than the ancient imaginings of the Biblical seers,'' and the great Argentinian fantasist, Jorge Luis Borges, said that it and Wells's other scientific romances ``will be incorporated ..."into the general memory of the species and even transcend the fame of their creator or the extinction of the language in which they were written.''

Written in a plain style (Wells once said, ``I write as I walk because I want to get somewhere'') and in the fantasy traditions of Plato and Swift, The Time Machine has a young narrator who greatly admires the older, adventuresome protagonist who is known only as the Time Traveller. The young man tells the story three years after the Time Traveller has disappeared on his quest to document for his audience the realities of the future. He...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1420008487