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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $12.50
  • September 2008
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-92794-8
  • 288 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

The Time Machine

Norton Critical Editions


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H. G. Wells (Author), Stephen Arata (Editor, University of Virginia)


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 Note on the Text

    The Text of The Time Machine

    Backgrounds and Contexts

    The Evolution of The Time Machine

    1. The Chronic Argonauts (1888)
    2. Revising The Chronic Argonauts
    3. National Observer Time Machine (1894)
    4. Alternate Ending: The Last Voyage of the Time Machine
    5. From Review Time Machine (1895)
    6. Cancelled Episode: The Return of the Time Traveller

    Wells’s Scientific Journalism (1891-94)

    1. From Rediscovery of the Unique (1891)
    2. From Zoological Retrogression (1891)
    3. On Extinction (1893)
    4. The Man of the Year Million. A Scientific Forecast (1893)
    5. The Extinction of Man. Some Speculative Suggestions (1894)
    6. From The “Cyclic” Delusion (1894)

    Wells on The Time Machine

    1. From to the Atlantic Edition of The Time Machine (1924)
    2. Preface to The Time Machine: Invention (1931)
    3. From Preface to Seven Famous Novels (1934)

    Scientific and Social Contexts

    1. Edwin Ray Lankester, From : A Chapter in Darwinism (1880)
    2. Thomas Henry Huxley. From The Struggle for Existence: A Programme (1888)
    3. Benjamin Kidd, From Social Evolution (1894)
    4. William Thomson [Lord Kelvin], From On the Age of the Sun’s Heat (1862)
    5. Balfour Stewart and Peter Guthrie Tait, From The Unseen Universe (1885)


    Early Reviews

    1. Richard Holt Hutton, In A.D. 802,701, Spectator, July 13, 1895
    2. Unsigned, A Pilgrim through Time, Daily Chronicle, July 27, 1895
    3. Israel Zangwill, [Paradoxes of Time Travel),
    4. Pall Mall Magazine, September 1895

    Recent Criticism

    1. Yevgeny Zamyatin, [Wells’s Urban Fairy Tales]
    2. Bernard Bergonzi, [Wells the Myth-Maker]
    3. Kathryn Hume, Eat or Be Eaten: H. G. Wells’s Time Machine
    4. Elaine Showalter, The Apocalyptic Fables of H. G. Wells
    5. John Huntington, The Time Machine and Wells’s Social Trajectory
    6. Paul A. Cantor and Peter Hufnagel, The Empire of the Future: Imperialism and Modernism in H. G. Wells
    7. Colin Manlove, H. G. Wells and the Machine in Victorian Fiction
    8. Roger Luckhurst, The Scientific Romance and the Evolutionary Paradigm

    H. G. Wells: A Chronology

    Selected Bibliography