For this week’s blog post I wanted to do something a little different and set “The Time Machine” in the context of 18th/19th century perceptions of the future and time travel.
As I read the book over Thanksgiving I started thinking about my own ideas about the future, how different they are from H.G. Wells’s, and which aspects are the same.
Here is a useful link that summarizes the timeline of time travel and its development through the years. It’s great because it starts with the publication of “The Time Machine.”
This link http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/09/090921-hg-wells-hgwells.html is an interesting 2009 article from the National Geographic that interprets H.G. Wells’s predictions in light of what actually happened.
This website on the other hand, http://singularityhub.com/2012/10/15/19th-century-french-artists-predicted-the-world-of-the-future-in-this-series-of-postcards/
portrays a collection of 19th century French postcards, that depict some of the contemporary ideas of what the future might bring.
And finally, THIS http://www.paleofuture.com/ is a gem! It is a blog dedicated to past notions of the future. One can browse by decade (the decades relevant to us would be the earlier ones, so 1870s-1900s mostly) but the other decades offer interesting insights also. What caught my attention are all the artistic artifacts that Matt Novak- the writer, has accumulated on this blog. Have a look!
In light of expanding my understanding of “The Time Machine” and its context, here are also some questions that I found useful, when thinking about the novel:
- Why is the final key question: where did the TT go, and not why didn’t he come back?-> where does the contemporary focus lie?
- Is there sex in the future? Not really! Why is that? What does that mean for evolution?
- Why is progress portrayed as the regression of the human into the infantile state?
- The TT’s view of the future is direly pessimistic, and yet the narrator’s is surprisingly optimistic- why is this the case? What are we supposed to take away from the book?