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Time on a Human ScaleExperiencing the Present in Europe, 1860-1930$
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Julian Wright and Allegra Fryxell

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266977

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266977.001.0001

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H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine: Tales of Time and Space

H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine: Tales of Time and Space

(p.156) 6 H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine: Tales of Time and Space
Time on a Human Scale

Simon J. James

British Academy

With H. G. Wells, the very act of plotting a story organised time in the most immediate, proximate context of the writer’s own existence. As Paul Ricœur would argue, emplotment became a way of reflecting and reordering a dislocated sense of modern existence. H. G. Wells’ revelling in the exploration of other periods in the future apparently disguises the line of the plot and the intimate journey of the narrator. But the plot in Wells is key to his political reflections and his desire to educate in the 20th century. Certainly, the distancing effect of time travel is challenging for Wells’ narrator. But while the future and the present of the early 1900s are given considerable separation, the narrator himself acts as a human connector, indicating the relevance of human observation of the passing of time as a vital function of humanity’s place in the temporal universe. As Simon James observes, the extension of the Wellsian plot into future temporal eras does not take away from the classic realist intention of learning to make better judgements about individual and collective actions today, rather it adds depth and complexity to that project.

Keywords:   English Literature, time-travel, H. G. Wells, literary culture, narrative, temporality

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