C. Young Annotated Bibliography

Christopher Young



Annotated Bibliography



1. Philmus, Robert M. “”The Time Machine”: Or, The Fourth Dimension as Prophecy.” PMLA 84.3 (1969): 530-35. JSTOR. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.


Philmus primarily examines the means by which H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine directs meaning towards degeneration and evolution. Philmus draws heavily on other varied writings of Wells, particularly “Zoological Retrogression.” Wells is denouncing any notion of optimistic evolution for the greater good, replacing that idea with a concept of degeneration, running in parity with evolution. Philmus draws attention to a chapter that was only present in the New Review version of the text, in which the Time Traveller interacts with further degenerated versions of the Eloi and the Morlocks. Philmus finally outlines the metaphor of the fourth dimension in The Time Machine, pointing out that the dimension is not time, but rather that of perspective and imagination.


2. Scafella, Frank. “The White Sphinx and “The Time Machine”” Science Fiction Studies 8.3 (1981): 255-65. JSTOR. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.


Scafella’s argument is consumed with the prominence and nature of the grinning white sphinx. He alludes to the Greek mythology of the Oedipus story, in which he comes face to face with a Sphinx and must pass its riddle to continue his journey. Scafella ponders the riddle being posed to the Time Traveller in 802,701: “Why is it that the subjugation of Nature to human needs has led to the atrophy of knowledge and intellect?” (256). The rest of his argument centers on this question and the Time Traveller’s methods of puzzle solving. Scafella continues, citing the Sphinx’s symbology and its significant scientific representation.


3. Firchow, Peter. “H. G. Wells’s Time Machine: In Search of Time Future and Time past.” The Midwest Quarterly 45.2 (2004): 123. Pittsburg State University. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.


Firchow is quick to point out the historical context of Wells’ writing, as British exploration was drawing to an end, the Time Traveller begins his journey into a fourth dimension. He then goes on to address the anonymity of the protagonist, other than “The Time Traveller,” once again outlining the authorial attention. The frame narrative of the tale comes up as an important facet of the argument in this essay; it is framed purposefully and with intentional characters as to lull the reader into a sense of believability of the fantastic scale of the plot. Firchow convincingly concludes with an examination of Utopia in the novel and otherwise, particularly its fleeting notion of completeness or permanence.


4. Clarke, Bruce. “Allegorical Mechanics in The Time Machine.” Energy Forms: Allegory and Science in the Era of Classical Thermodynamics. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan, 2001. 121-26. Print.


Clarke’s impressive volume tackles a wise array of texts in the era of thermodynamics. In the selected chapter, he hones in on the use of allegory in The Time Machine. Clarke draws distinctions and common ground between the interaction of machines and allegorical literary devices – The Time Machine makes clear the codependence of the two. Akin to Scafella, Clarke stresses the vitality of the white sphinx, greeting the Time Traveller as he breaches the fourth dimension. “Like the winged Sphinx, allegories hover on the border between myth and science…” (123), writes Clarke. The crossing of dimensions between myth, allegory, machine and man are vital to Clarke’s argument, that Wells is using science as an outlet for allegorical story telling.


5. Beaumont, Matthew. “Red Sphinx: Mechanics of the Uncanny in “The Time Machine”” Science Fiction Studies 33.2 (2006): 230-50. JSTOR. SF-TH Inc. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.


Beaumont’s idea behind his essay is to show the means by which Science Fiction, when written well, can not only undermine the ideas of a society of the future, but the past and present as well. To do this, the genre often employs Freud’s “uncanny,” where “primitive beliefs which have been surmounted seem once more to be confirmed” (230). Beaumont labels the readers’ interactions with The Time Machine to be uncanny. Beaumont is also concerned with the proletariat, bourgeoisie divide between the Morlocks and Eloi, pointing out Wells’ concern for the working class.



  1. Ruddick, Nicholas. “”Thee Us All about Little Rosebery”: Topicality and Temporality in H.G. Wells’s “The Time Machine”” Science Fiction Studies 28.3 (2001): 337-54. JSTOR. SF-TH Inc. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.


Ruddick’s argument is foregrounded on the idea that The Time Machine’s unusual narrative structure is purposefully crafted to reflect the topicality of the novel. Ruddick does well to date the events of the book so as to see how they interacted with reality at those times. As is the case with most of our works this semester, Darwinism played a large part in the inspiration of the novel. In The Time Machine, Wells is honing in on the relationship between human evolution and temporal powers, centered around a backdrop of three distinct time-scales: the historical, the evolutionary, and the astronomical.



7. Wells, H.G. “Zoological Retrogression.” Gentleman’s Magazine Sept. 1891: 246-53.


Wells submitted this article to The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1891, four years before the publishing of The Time Machine. Wells wrote the piece in a response to the persistently optimistic views of the trends of human evolution. Wells sought to dismiss these attitudes as misguided. Wells is more interested with the complement to evolution than anything else, something he explores in 802,701. Exploring the interconnectivity of man and lesser, animal forms, Wells seeks to dispel the optimism he sees as folly. He does this through very specific examples of animals and phyla. Degradation and degeneration are ways in which he sees man suffering as evolution progresses.



8. Hinton, C.H. The Fourth Dimension. London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1912.


Hinton takes a calculated and mathematical view on the possibility and likelihood of a fourth dimension, outside the three we are accustomed to. He examines the limitations we put on ourselves by assuming a finite degree of dimensionality that we can interact with. Hinton poses a question and challenge, of why cannot we move about in more than three dimensions? He believes that in the fourth dimension, one would be able to look and interact with a solid body from every angle simultaneously, while being unable to see or feel a three-dimensional item. Hinton alludes to the way in which a two dimensional object disappears in form when moving to three dimensions. He claims that the same can be said with how three dimensions transfer to four dimensions. Based on this argument, the Time Traveller can be seen as becoming unrecognizable to his peers and base dimension as a whole as he floats within the fourth dimension, in this case being time.

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