Class XI – Sample Book Review

Sample Book Review

1. Title of the Book: The Time Machine

2. Author of the Book: H.G. Wells

3. Country: United Kingdom

4. Language: English

5. First originally published by: William Heinemann, London in 1895.

3. was the book a best seller? Yes

4. Genre: Science Fiction Novel

5. Cost of the Book: $2.70

6. Name of the Publisher: Dover Publications

7. Edition and year of Copyright: April 3, 1995

8. No. of pages: 80

9. Introduction: The Time Machine was first published in 1894 as a serial under the name The Time Traveller in the National Observer. It was brought out as a book the next year under its current name and sold more than six thousand copies in a few months. H. G. Wells was just twenty-seven years old when the story, which came to be called a “scientific romance,” was published. Wells’s friend, William Henley, edited the National Observer, and Wells became part of a group of writers called “Henley’s young men.” The novel’s appeal lies in its attempt to fathom what will become of human beings in the distant future. By making the central character of his story a time traveler who can transport himself back and forth in time with the aid of a machine he invented, Wells is able to explore many of the themes that obsessed him, including class inequality, evolution, and the relationship between science and society. In describing the future world of the effete Eloi and the cannibalistic Morlocks and the world beyond that in which all semblance of human life has been erased, Wells illustrates what he believes may very well be the fate of humanity. The novel’s enduring popularity is evident in the three films adapted from the novel and the scores of others inspired by it.
10. About the Author: Herbert George Wells was born in a working class family in 1866. He came from a poor background, which was unusual for a writer at that time. He won a scholarship to study science at university. With a first-class degree in biology, he briefly became a teacher. His career in the classroom was ended by a sharp kick in the kidneys from an unhappy pupil, which left him too unwell to continue teaching. He then lived on a s
mall income from journalism and short stories, until his literary career took off with his first science fiction novel, The Time Machine, in 1895.

Wells wrote with tremendous energy throughout his life, producing many science fiction stories, short stories, sociological and political books, autobiographical novels and histories. He became very successful as a writer, perhaps because his work was both popular and intellectual, and he lived in some style. He married twice and had a reputation as a womaniser. He moved in socialist circles and used fiction to explore his political ideas. Wells died in 1946.

11. Summary: A group of men, including the narrator, is listening to the Time Traveller discussing his theory that time is the fourth dimension. The Time Traveller produces a miniature time machine and makes it disappear into thin air. The next week, the guests return, to find their host stumble in, looking disheveled and tired. They sit down after dinner, and the Time Traveller begins his story.

The Time Traveller had finally finished work on his time machine, and it rocketed him into the future. When the machine stops, in the year 802,701 AD, he finds himself in a paradisiacal world of small humanoid creatures called Eloi. They are frail and peaceful, and give him fruit to eat. He explores the area, but when he returns he finds that his time machine is gone. He decides that it has been put inside the pedestal of a nearby statue. He tries to pry it open but cannot. In the night, he begins to catch glimpses of strange white ape-like creatures the Eloi call Morlocks. He decides that the Morlocks live below ground, down the wells that dot the landscape. Meanwhile, he saves one of the Eloi from drowning, and she befriends him. Her name is Weena. The Time Traveller finally works up enough courage to go down into the world of Morlocks to try to retrieve his time machine. He finds that matches are a good defense against the Morlocks, but ultimately they chase him out of their realm. Frightened by the Morlocks, he takes Weena to try to find a place where they will be safe from the Morlocks’ nocturnal hunting. He goes to what he calls the Palace of Green Porcelain, which turns out to be a museum. There, he finds more matches, some camphor, and a lever he can use as a weapon. That night, retreating from the Morlocks through a giant wood, he accidentally starts a fire. Many Morlocks die in the fire and the battle that ensues, and Weena is killed. The exhausted Time Traveller returns to the pedestal to find that it has already been pried open. He strides in confidently, and just when the Morlocks think that they have trapped him, he springs onto the machine and whizzes into the future.

The Time Traveller makes several more stops. In a distant time he stops on a beach where he is attacked by giant crabs. The bloated red sun sits motionless in the sky. He then travels thirty million years into the future. The air is very thin, and the only sign of life is a black blob with tentacles. He sees a planet eclipse the sun. He then returns, exhausted, to the present time. The next day, he leaves again, but never returns.

12. Plot: H. G. Wells’s fascination with the idea of time travel into the future was first expressed in his story “The Chronic Argonauts” (1888). He wrote at least four other versions before the first book publication of The Time Machine: An Invention in 1895.

The Time Machine is a frame narrative. The outer narrator, Hillyer, briefly sets the scene for the much longer inner narrative, the Time Traveler’s story about his experiences in the future. Hillyer concludes the narrative with a description of the subsequent disappearance of the Time Traveler and offers a brief speculative epilogue.

Hillyer is one of a group of professional men who regularly gather for dinner and conversation at the Time Traveler’s house. One evening, the host explains to his skeptical visitors that he has discovered the principles of time travel. He demonstrates a miniature time machine and shows his visitors an almost-completed full-sized version in his laboratory.

At Hillyer’s next visit, the Time Traveler enters, disheveled and limping but eager to tell his visitors about his travels in the far future. He begins by graphically describing the subjective effects of compressing years into moments of time. He then tells them how he arrived in c.e. 802,701 and encountered a race of creatures, evolved from humans, called Eloi. They are small, frail, gentle, childlike vegetarians. He theorizes that humanity has reached a state of contented inactivity in harmony with nature. Soon thereafter, the time machine vanished into the hollow pedestal of a statue, and he realized that this future world harbored disturbing secrets.

Other occurrences made him determined to explore the mysteries beneath the placid surface of the world. He discovered the Morlocks, small, apelike creatures who tended vast machines in dark caverns and visited the surface only during the night. He concluded that the Eloi and Morlocks were the descendants of the capitalist and laborer classes of his own time and that social separation had led to the evolution of two distinct human species. He also learned to his horror that the Morlocks killed and ate Eloi.

He and Weena, an Eloi female whom he had saved from drowning, then visited a ruinous museum in the hope of finding some means of freeing the time machine from the Morlocks. On their return journey, they were surrounded by Morlocks at night in a forest. Weena was lost, but the Time Traveler escaped. He returned to the statue and found the pedestal open. He mounted the time machine as the Morlocks sprang their trap but was able to escape by traveling in time.

Curious about Earth’s fate, he voyaged farther into the future and found that all traces of humanity had vanished. More than thirty million years hence, he found himself on a desolate beach facing a swollen red sun, life having devolved to the point of extinction. Horrified, he
returned to his own time.

Hillyer, deeply affected by the Time Traveler’s story, returns the next day to find his host about to depart. Invited to wait, he does so, but in vain.

13. Setting: There is but one physical setting for the entire story, but three temporal settings are used over the course of the novel. The book begins in late 19 th century London, specifically, in the Time Traveller’s home in Richmond, a borough on the Thames River, on the outskirts of London. The dining room, smoking room, and laboratory are the only rooms seen and are not fully described, as they are only the setting for the narrative frame which surrounds the real story, told by the Time Traveller himself. The men gather in the smoking room, seating themselves around the Time Traveller, who sits near the fireplace and begins to tell his tale in the dim light of the fire’s glow.

The most important setting–the time and place in which most of the story takes place–is still the site of the Time Traveller’s house and the area surrounding it, but hundreds of thousands of years into the future. In the year 802701, the buildings that once formed London are completely gone, and all that can be found are the buildings used by the aboveground dwellers, a very large statue of a Sphinx-like creature, the ruins of several other structures and scattered circular wells. Everything else has gone back to nature; trees and flowers fill the Thames Valley.

The third temporal setting is even farther into the distant future, thirty million years hence, and the landscape is even more dramatically different. Now the Thames Valley is a desolate beach, facing an aging ocean with no waves, only an occasional swell. Large white butterflies and huge crablike creatures populate the world, and even further in the future, the crabs are gone and only lichen and an amorphous black creature remain.

14. Writing style: Narrative

15. Character Analysis:

The Time Traveller: A well-read and intelligent man of science. He is versed in the theories of his day, and very clearly a Darwinist, like Wells himself, and his thoughts echo much of Wells’s own theories about the Britain of his time. He is a man of observation, and muses quite a bit about his surroundings, in an attempt to use logical thinking to draw conclusions about the future and its inhabitants. The Time Traveller has a sense of humor about almost everything he encounters, and accepts his friends’ skepticism. Witty and somewhat of a joker, this aspect of his personality is part of the reason his friends so quickly dismiss his story and demonstration as a joke.

The Narrator, Hillyer:  One of the three men present at both dinners. The narrator is the only character who gives any credence to the Time Traveller’s claims; he seriously considers the possibility of time travel.

Eloi: A peaceful but weak and lethargic people who populate the surface of the earth in the year 802701. Small in stature, and delicate featured, the Eloi play all day, feast on fruit in great halls, and sleep in a large communal chambers in order to protect themselves from the dark and the possibility of Morlock attack. Easily tired and childlike, they are not interested intellectual pursuits, or in the Time Traveller beyond his function as a diversion.

Morlocks: An aggressive, predatory, ape-like “people” who live beneath the earth’s surface in the year 802701. The Morlocks are the descendants of the working class of the late 19 th century, and continue to labor, maintaining and running huge machines deep in the earth. The have adapted physically to life beneath the surface, with large, eyes very sensitive to light, and light, unpigmented skin and fur. Carnivores, they feast on the Eloi, who they maintain as a source of meat.

Weena: An Eloi who the Time Traveller saves from drowning. She becomes a special friend of the Time Traveller, following him around and occasionally serves as a source of information. She eventually is attacked by the Morlocks and dies in the forest fire.

16. Your Impressions : The time traveller’s machine is described in such sketchy terms that it can scarcely be believed as an instrument of science, and the time traveller’s account is similarly sketchy and bizarre. The very nature of time travel means that he’s away for only a short period of time, and the only “proof” of his travels is a crunched up flower. And given that the narrative is told in a twice-removed manner, the reader can’t help but wonder whether any of the novel is true at all. Did the time traveller truly engage in such chronological shenanigans, and did he experience what he claims? Or is he simply using an imagined future to provide a warning about the current state of society? But the reality is that neither the truth, nor the journey matters: it’s only the outcome.

17. Your ratings: ****

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