The Time Machine (Norton Critical Editions)

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Overview

The Time Machine (1895) is H. G. Wells’s first published novel as well as his most enduring and influential work.
Intrigued by the possibilities of time travel as a student and inspired as a journalist by the great scientific advances of the Victorian Age, Wells drew on his own scientific publications—on evolution, degeneration, species extinction, geologic time, and biology—in writing The Time Machine. This Norton Critical Edition is based on the first London edition of the novel. It is accompanied by detailed explanatory annotations and “A Note on the Text.”
“Backgrounds and Contexts” is organized thematically into four sections: “The Evolution of The Time Machine” presents alternative versions and installments and excerpts of the author’s time-travel story; “Wells’s Scientific Journalism (1891–94)” focuses on the scientific topics central to the novel; “Wells on The Time Machine” reprints the prefaces to the 1924, 1931, and 1934 editions; and “Scientific and Social Contexts” collects five widely read texts by the Victorian scientists and social critics Edwin Ray Lankester, Thomas Henry Huxley, Benjamin Kidd, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), and Balfour Stewart and Peter Guthrie Tait.“Criticism” includes three important early reviews of The Time Machine from the Spectator, the Daily Chronicle, and Pall Mall Magazine as well as eight critical essays that reflect our changing emphases in reading and appreciating this futuristic novel. Contributors include Yevgeny Zamyatin, Bernard Bergonzi, Kathryn Hume, Elaine Showalter, John Huntington, Paul A. Cantor and Peter Hufnagel, Colin Manlove, and Roger Luckhurst.A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.

A scientist invents a time machine and uses it to travel hundreds of thousands of years into the future, where he discovers the childlike Eloi and the hideous underground Morlocks.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Two of Wells's sf masterpieces get the red carpet treatment here. These "critical text" editions contain the full text plus annotations, indexes, appendixes, and bibliographies. Though these editions are pricey, Wells's works deserve serious consideration. Libraries should at least stock up on a few extra budget paperback copies of Doctor Moreau to meet demand generated by a forthcoming film remake starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-The St. Charles Players perform this readers' theatre-style rendition of H.G. Wells' classic story. Using appropriate sound effects and alternating readers allows listeners to differentiate between characters and to develop a sense of place and time. The lively narration will hold listeners' attention from beginning to end. The story begins with a revolutionary Victorian scientist who claims to have invented a machine that allows him to travel through time. Using flashbacks, he recounts his adventures in the futurist world he visits in his time machine to a group of skeptical friends. This abridged version will work well as an introduction to classic literature in elementary grade classes, but omits too much of the original text for older students. Consider adding this title to audiobook collections that focus on classic, time-tested literature.-Sarah Prielipp, Chippewa River District Library System, Mt Pleasant, MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393927948
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/19/2007
  • Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 138,010
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

H. G. Wells
Stephen Arata is Mayo Distinguished Teaching Professor and Associate Professor of English at the University of Virginia. His books include Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siècle and editions of William Morris’s News from Nowhere and George Gissing’s New Grub Street.

Biography

Social philosopher, utopian, novelist, and "father" of science fiction and science fantasy, Herbert George Wells was born on September 21, 1866, in Bromley, Kent. His father was a poor businessman, and young Bertie's mother had to work as a lady's maid. Living "below stairs" with his mother at an estate called Uppark, Bertie would sneak into the grand library to read Plato, Swift, and Voltaire, authors who deeply influenced his later works. He shoed literary and artistic talent in his early stories and paintings, but the family had limited means, and when he was fourteen years old, Bertie was sent as an apprentice to a dealer in cloth and dry goods, work he disliked.

He held jobs in other trades before winning a scholarship to study biology at the Normal School of Science in London. The eminent biologist T. H. Huxley, a friend and proponent of Darwin, was his teacher; about him Wells later said, "I believed then he was the greatest man I was ever likely to meet." Under Huxley's influence, Wells learned the science that would inspire many of his creative works and cultivated the skepticism about the likelihood of human progress that would infuse his writing.

Teaching, textbook writing, and journalism occupied Wells until 1895, when he made his literary debut with the now-legendary novel The Time Machine, which was followed before the end of the century by The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds, books that established him as a major writer. Fiercely critical of Victorian mores, he published voluminously, in fiction and nonfiction, on the subject of politics and social philosophy. Biological evolution does not ensure moral progress, as Wells would repeat throughout his life, during which he witnessed two world wars and the debasement of science for military and political ends.

In addition to social commentary presented in the guise of science fiction, Wells authored comic novels like Love and Mrs. Lewisham, Kipps, and The History of Mister Polly that are Dickensian in their scope and feeling, and a feminist novel, Ann Veronica. He wrote specific social commentary in The New Machiavelli, an attack on the socialist Fabian Society, which he had joined and then rejected, and literary parody (of Henry James) in Boon. He wrote textbooks of biology, and his massive The Outline of History was a major international bestseller.

By the time Wells reached middle age, he was admired around the world, and he used his fame to promote his utopian vision, warning that the future promised "Knowledge or extinction." He met with such preeminent political figures as Lenin, Roosevelt, and Stalin, and continued to publish, travel, and educate during his final years. Herbert George Wells died in London on August 13, 1946.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The War of the Worlds.

Good To Know

In 1891, Wells married his cousin Isabel. However, he eventually left her for one of his brightest students, Amy Catherine, whom he married in 1895.

Wells was once interviewed on the radio by an extremely nervous Orson Welles. The two are unrelated, of course.

Many of Wells's novels became film adaptations, including The Island of Dr. Moreau, filmed in 1996 by Richard Stanley and John Frankenheimer, and The Time Machine, filmed in 2002 by Wells's great-grandson, Simon Wells.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Herbert George Wells (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 21, 1866
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bromley, Kent, England
    1. Date of Death:
      August 13, 1946
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
1. The Text 1
2. The Sphinx-Question 2
3. The Two Socialisms 4
4. Eloi and Morlocks 7
5. The Two Cultures 12
The Time Machine: An Invention (1895) 19
App. I. The Chronic Argonauts (1888) 174
App. II. The Time Traveller's Story (March-June 1894) 196
App. III. Excerpts from The time Machine (Jan.-May 1895) 221
App. IV. "Mammon," by Walker Glockenhammer (H. G. Wells) 229
App. V. "The Fourth Dimension," by E. A. Hamilton-Gordon 233
App. VI. Excerpts from "Evolution and Ethics," by T. H. Huxley 240
App. VII. Robert W. Paul on the Time Machine and the History of Movies 244
Bibliography 247
Index 255
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First Chapter

CHAPTER I

THE Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us. His grey eyes shone and twinkled, and his usually pale face was flushed and animated. The fire burned brightly, and the soft radiance of the incandescent lights in the lilies of silver caught the bubbles that flashed and passed in our glasses. Our chairs, being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather than submitted to be sat upon, and there was that luxurious after-dinner atmosphere, when thought runs gracefully free of the trammels of precision. And he put it to us in this way - marking the points with a lean forefinger - as we sat and lazily admired his earnestness over this new paradox (as we thought it) and his fecundity.

"You must follow me carefully. I shall have to controvert one or two ideas that are almost universally accepted. The geometry, for instance, they taught you at school is founded on a misconception."

"Is not that rather a large thing to expect us to begin upon?" said Filby, an argumentative person with red hair.

"I do not mean to ask you to accept anything without reasonable ground for it. You will soon admit as much as I need from you. You know of course that a mathematical line, a line of thickness nil, has no real existence. They taught you that? Neither has a mathematical plane. These things are mere abstractions."

"That is all right," said the Psychologist.

"Nor, having only length, breadth, and thickness, can a cube have a real existence." "There I object," said Filby. "Of course a solid body may exist. All real things -"

"So most people think. But wait a moment. Can an instantaneous cube exist?"

"Don't follow you," said Filby.

"Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have a real existence?"

Filby became pensive. "Clearly," the Time Traveller proceeded, "any real body must have extension in four directions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and - Duration. But through a natural infirmity of the flesh, which I will explain to you in a moment, we incline to overlook this fact. There are really four dimensions, three which we call the three planes of Space, and a fourth, Time. There is, however, a tendency to draw an unreal distinction between the former three dimensions and the latter, because it happens that our consciousness moves intermittently in one direction along the latter from the beginning to the end of our lives."

"That," said a very young man, making spasmodic efforts to relight his cigar over the lamp; "that . . . very clear indeed."

"Now, it is very remarkable that this is so extensively overlooked," continued the Time Traveller, with a slight accession of cheerfulness. "Really this is what is meant by the Fourth Dimension, though some people who talk about the Fourth Dimension do not know they mean it. It is only another way of looking at Time. There is no difference between Time and any of the three dimensions of Space except that our consciousness moves along it. But some foolish people have got hold of the wrong side of that idea. You have all heard what they have to say about this Fourth Dimension?"

"I have not," said the Provincial Mayor.

"It is simply this. That Space, as our mathematicians have it, is spoken of as having three dimensions, which one may call Length, Breadth, and Thickness, and is always definable by reference to three planes, each at right angles to the others. But some philosophical people have been asking why three dimensions particularly - why not another direction at right angles to the other three?- and have even tried to construct a Four-Dimensional geometry. Professor Simon Newcomb was expounding this to the New York Mathematical Society only a month or so ago. You know how on a flat surface, which has only two dimensions, we can represent a figure of a three-dimensional solid, and similarly they think that by models of three dimensions they could represent one of four - if they could master the perspective of the thing. See?"

"I think so," murmured the Provincial Mayor; and, knitting his brows, he lapsed into an introspective state, his lips moving as one who repeats mystic words. "Yes, I think I see it now," he said after some time, brightening in a quite transitory manner.

"Well, I do not mind telling you I have been at work upon this geometry of Four Dimensions for some time. Some of my results are curious. For instance, here is a portrait of a man at eight years old, another at fifteen, another at seventeen, another at twenty-three, and so on. All these are evidently sections, as it were, Three-Dimensional representations of his Four-Dimensioned being, which is a fixed and unalterable thing."

"Scientific people," proceeded the Time Traveller, after the pause required for the proper assimilation of this, "know very well that Time is only a kind of Space. Here is a popular scientific diagram, a weather record. This line I trace with my finger shows the movement of the barometer. Yesterday it was so high, yesterday night it fell, then this morning it rose again, and so gently upward to here. Surely the mercury did not trace this line in any of the dimensions of Space generally recognised? But certainly it traced such a line, and that line, therefore, we must conclude was along the Time-Dimension."

"But," said the Medical Man, staring hard at a coal in the fire, "if Time is really only a fourth dimension of Space, why is it, and why has it always been, regarded as something different? And why cannot we move in Time as we move about in the other dimensions of Space?"

The Time Traveller smiled. "Are you so sure we can move freely in Space? Right and left we can go, backward and forward freely enough, and men always have done so. I admit we move freely in two dimensions. But how about up and down? Gravitation limits us there."

"Not exactly," said the Medical Man. "There are balloons."

"But before the balloons, save for spasmodic jumping and the inequalities of the surface, man had no freedom of vertical movement."

"Still, they could move a little up and down," said the Medical Man.

"Easier, far easier down than up."

"And you cannot move at all in Time, you cannot get away from the present moment."

"My dear sir, that is just where you are wrong. That is just where the whole world has gone wrong. We are always getting away from the present moment. Our mental existences, which are immaterial and have no dimensions, are passing along the Time-Dimension with a uniform velocity from the cradle to the grave. Just as we should travel down if we began our existence fifty miles above the earth's surface."

"But the great difficulty is this," interrupted the Psychologist. "You can move about in all directions of Space, but you cannot move about in Time."

"That is the germ of my great discovery. But you are wrong to say that we cannot move about in Time. For instance, if I am recalling an incident very vividly I go back to the instant of its occurrence: I become absent-minded, as you say. I jump back for a moment. Of course we have no means of staying back for any length of Time, any more than a savage or an animal has of staying six feet above the ground. But a civilised man is better off than the savage in this respect. He can go up against gravitation in a balloon, and why should he not hope that ultimately he may be able to stop or accelerate his drift along the Time-Dimension, or even turn about and travel the other way?"

"Oh, this," began Filby, "is all -"

"Why not?" said the Time Traveller.

"It's against reason," said Filby.

"What reason?" said the Time Traveller.

"You can show black is white by argument," said Filby, "but you will never convince me."

"Possibly not," said the Time Traveller. "But now you begin to see the object of my investigations into the geometry of Four Dimensions. Long ago I had a vague inkling of a machine -"

"To travel through Time!" exclaimed the Very Young Man.

"That shall travel indifferently in any direction of Space and Time, as the driver determines."

Filby contented himself with laughter.

"But I have experimental verification," said the Time Traveller.

"It would be remarkably convenient for the historian," the Psychologist suggested. "One might travel back and verify the accepted account of the Battle of Hastings, for instance!" "Don't you think you would attract attention?" said the Medical Man. "Our ancestors had no great tolerance for anachronisms."

"One might get one's Greek from the very lips of Homer and Plato," the Very Young Man thought.

"In which case they would certainly plough you for the Little-go. The German scholars have improved Greek so much."

"Then there is the future," said the Very Young Man. "Just think! One might invest all one's money, leave it to accumulate at interest, and hurry on ahead!"

"To discover a society," said I, "erected on a strictly communistic basis."

"Of all the wild extravagant theories!" began the Psychologist.

"Yes, so it seemed to me, and so I never talked of it until -"

"Experimental verification!" cried I. "You are going to verify that?"

"The experiment!" cried Filby, who was getting brain-weary.

"Let's see your experiment anyhow," said the Psychologist, "though it's all humbug, you know."
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Reading Group Guide

When the Time Traveller courageously stepped out of his machine for the first time, he found himself in the year 802,700--and everything has changed.  In another, more utopian age, creatures seemed to dwell together in perfect harmony.  The Time Traveller thought he could study these marvelous beings--unearth their secret and then retum to his own time--until he discovered that his invention, his only avenue of escape, had been stolen.  H.G. Well's famous novel of one man's astonishing journey beyond the conventional limits of the imagination first appeared in 1895.  It won him immediate recognition, and has been regarded ever since as one of the great masterpieces in the literature of science fiction.
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