We read The Time Machine in book form, but this was not the only medium Wells’s novel appeared in. Like many long fictions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, The Time Machine began in serialized form in a periodical: that is, published in parts in a magazine. If we are thinking about this early scientific romance and the medium of print, we have to think about both the book form and these forms in parts.
There are two early periodical publications. The first full version of The Time Machine is not called that! It is a series of articles for the Edinburgh-based National Observer published in 1894.
Then Wells published a new more extended version, under the title The Time Machine, in 1895 in a different magazine, the London-based New Review. Shortly thereafter the first book edition appeared from Heinemann in London and from Holt in New York.
National Observer version
This can be found in the British Periodicals database. This thing is not that easy to use, but you can learn a lot from it.
- “Time Traveling: Possibility or Paradox?” (March 17, 1894)
- “The Time Machine” (March 24)
- “A.D. 12,203: A Glimpse of the Future” (March 31)
- “The Refinement of Humanity: A.D. 12,203” (April 21)
- “The Sunset of Mankind” (April 28)
- “In the Underworld” (May 19)
- “The Time Traveler Returns” (June 23)
Choose any of these parts and read it. Then, follow the link in the database that reads “Back to issue” (near the top of the screen, above the article title), and spend just a few minutes looking over what else was in the National Observer with Wells that week. Think about what kind of magazine this is, and what that implies about the tale Wells is writing.
New Review version
This is bizarrely inaccessible in the British Periodicals database, but the HathiTrust database of book scans gives us images of the revised version.
There is no need to read any of the parts again (unless you want to)! There are some differences in the text. This time, choose any of these parts and then scroll a bit to see what kind of context The New Review was for this serialized novel.
Now, write a paragraph about any particular feature, large or small, of one or both of the magazine versions that you noticed and that seems significant to you. You might especially consider how our expectations about what kind of thing we’re reading are shaped by the magazine context; you can also think about how the novel itself might be shaped by this context, too. (It can help to think in contrast to the book version: here’s a link to the 1895 Holt edition.) Be specific about a particular journal item—cite your evidence!
This post is due for everyone in the class on Monday at 5 p.m. Mini-essays are forbidden. It is fine to note details and raise questions, or to speculate, and stop there. You don’t have to mention everything you noticed or respond to everything above. We’ll continue the discussion of these versions in class on Tuesday.
Read your classmates’ posts before class.
Review of The Time Machine [the book version!], National Observer 14, no. 349, July 27, 1895: 327.