from: J. D. Beresford's critical biography of Wells (1916):

Mr. Wells' romances have little or nothing in common with those of Jules Verne, not even that peculiar quality
of romance which revels in the impossible.

Mr. Wells' experiments with the relatively improbable have become increasingly involved with the social problem, 
and it would be possible to trace the growth of his opinions from this evidence alone, even if we had not the valuable commentary afforded by his novels and his essays in sociology. . . .The later works have been so defensive and, in
one sense, didactic that one is apt to forget that many of the earlier books, and all the short stories, must have 
originated in the effervescence of creative imagination.

Wells prefaced his romances by a sketch in the old PALL MALL GAZETTE, entitled "The Man of the Year 
Million", in an a priori study that made one thankful for one's prematurity. After that piece of logic, however, he 
tried another essay in evolution, published in 1895 in book form under the title of THE TIME MACHINE --
the first of his romances.

The machine itself is the vaguest of mechanical assumptions; a thing of ivory, quartz, nickel and brass that quite 
illogically carries its rider into an existing past or future. We accept the machine as a literary device to give an air 
of probability to the essential thing, the experience; and forget the means in the effect. The criterion of the prophecy 
in this case is influenced by the theory of "natural selection." Mr. Wells' vision of the "Sunset of Mankind" was of 
men so nearly adapted to their environment that the need to struggle, with the corollary of the extermination of the
unfit, had practically ceased. Humanity had become differentiated into two races, both recessive: one, the Eloi, 
a race of childlike, simple, delicate creatures living on the surface of a kindly earth; the other, the Morlocks, a 
more active but debased race, of bestial habits, who lived underground and preyed cannibalistically on the 
surface-dwellers, who they helped to preserve, as a man may preserve game. The Eloi, according to the 
hypothesis of the Time Traveller, are the descendents of the leisured classes; the Morlocks of the workers. . . .
All this is in the year 802,701 A.D.

The prophecy is less convincing than the wonderful sight of the declining earth some million years later, sinking 
slowly into the dying fires of the worn-out sun. . . .And the picture is made more horrible to the imaginative by 
the wonder whether the summit of the evolutionary curve has not already been reached -- or ir may be passed 
in the days of the Greek philsophers.

THE TIME MACHINE, despite certain obvious faults of imagination and style, is a brilliant fantasy: and it 
affords a valuable picture of the young Wells looking at the world, with his normal eyes, and finding it, more 
particularly, incomplete. At the age of twenty-seven or so, he has freed himself very completely from the bonds 
of conventional thought, and is prepared to examine, and to present life from the detached standpoint of one who 
views it all from a respectable distance; but who is able, nevertheless -- an essential qualification -- to enter life 
with all the passion and generosity of his own humanity.


      Although generally positive, this reviewer has reservations
      about Wells' absorption in "the social question."  If a
      reviewer takes such a stand, is it fair to surmise that
      unacknowldeged bias may be at work? Are reviewers themselves
      exempt from questions of bias? Of didacticism? 

      Students using what reviewers say about books may accept the
      reviewers' own statements that they have no interest other
      than that of "quality" in fiction. Can this ever be the case?

      Keep in mind what may be at work on the reviewers of Wells'
      own day. It would be good to know to what they were comparing
      _The Time Machine_. To Poe? To Verne? The shifting balance of
      critical assessment moves with the times. What may have impressed
      the critics of Wells' own times may seem dated in a later time.
      The qualities that survive in _The Time Machine_ may be other
      than those that impressed the contemporary critics.
-------- Additional quotations from positive reviewers: -------

"A Man of Genius" By Wm. T. Stead
THE REVIEW, March 1895.

(Stead was the foremost crusading English journalist and editor of the late 19th century. He was one of the
first people in the press to draw attention to Wells' TIME MACHINE.)

H. G. Wells who is writing the serial in THE NEW REVIEW, is a man of genius. His invention of the TIME MACHINE 
was good, but his description of the ultimate evolution of society into the aristocrats and capitalists who live on the 
surface of the earth in the sunshine, and the toilers who are doomed to live in the bowels of the earth in black 
darkness, in which they learn to see by evolving huge owl-like eyes, is gruesome and horrible to the last point. The
story is not yet finished, but he has written enough to show that he has an imagination as gruesome as Edgar Allan Poe.

Essay by Joseph Conrad
date 1898

. . .One can always see a lot in your work -- there is always a "beyond" to your books. . . .I suppose you'll have the 
decency to believe me when I tell you that I am always impressed by your work. . . .And if you want to know what 
impresses me it is to see how you contrive to give over humanity into the clutches of the Impossible and yet manage 
to keep it down (or up) to its humanity, to its flesh, blood, sorrow, folly. THAT is achievement!

                         WORKS CITED

     Haining, Peter, ed. _The H. G. Wells Scrapbook_.
                         London: New English Library, 1978.
     -------------------._Twentieth-century Literary Criticism_. 
                         50 vols. Detroit: Gale Research, 1978-

     Locations in volumes: 6:523, 533-34, 538, 547-55, 12:487-88,
                           501, 506, 508-11; 19:420, 424, 428-31, 
                           434, 436-39, 441-42, 446-50, 452.