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This review is from: The Time Machine (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)Is it all a hoax? A man, whose name we never learn, apparently builds a small time machine that vanishes in front of a group of dinner guests. Later, he claims to have just returned from a voyage into the distant future, where he experienced wonders and terrors. His evidence? A dishevelled appearance and two withered flowers that a medical man (i.e. not a botanist) can't immediately identify. The self-styled Time Traveller then vanishes for good.
Admittedly, when I first read this wonderful book it never occurred to me for a moment that we were supposed to doubt the truth of the Time Traveller's Tale. It is so immediate, so detailed, so compelling. But Wells was a very clever chap, and there are hints here and there that perhaps all is not quite as it seems. Indeed, the Time Traveller himself tells his listeners to treat it all as a story. He even seems to doubt his story himself. This doesn't undermine the visionary nature of the tale - if anything, it adds another layer to a subtle book.
G.K. Chesterton called it a 'little masterpiece'. He was right. Wells wrote a lot of good stories, but he never improved on his first book. The central question - what is the point of all our human striving? - is just as relevant today as it was in the 1890s. If you never read anything else by Wells, read this. It will take only a few hours of your time, yet it will carry you effortlessly across hundreds of millennia.