“The Time Machine” in context

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:


  1. 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?
  2. Is there sex in the future?  Not really! Why is that? What does that mean for evolution?
  3. Why is progress portrayed as the regression of the human into the infantile state?
  4. 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?


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