28 April 2008

Writing on Reading:The Time Machine

Recently I reread The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, published in 1895. The prose in this book is fabulous, with lots of big words. :) The entire book is basically a monologue in which the protag tells the story of his travels to his friends. That would never fly today. There is also a pov shift in the epilogue. Note: The Time Machine is more complicated than it appears; the science fiction in it is NOT the time machine (which is insufficiently explained) but the sociological extrapolation of the British class struggle as seen by Wells. The Morlocks are the working class; the Eloi are the aristocrats. This is exemplified by The Sphinx that figures prominently in the story and refers to Thomas Carlyle's 1943 essay "The Sphinx" about the organization of labour in Britain.

As an American, the class struggle does not resonate with me very well. I also watched the 2002 movie "The Time Machine" and based on that, the story appears to be more about reason/science versus emotion/love. The protag is initially conflicted about whether to be with his girlfriend or work in his lab. There is a tragedy and he turns to reason/science at the exclusion of all else. Clearly the Morlocks, who still deal with machines, represent reason/science and the Eloi who can only love represent emotion/love. In the end, the protag destroys his machine and choses love among the Eloi. :)

Whatever you think it means, it is clearly an intriguing story on many levels. Send Electric Spec your multilayered stories!

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