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H. G. Wells: The Literary Traveller in His Fantastic Short Story Machine

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Halszka Leleń

The book offers a thorough study of the literary tensions and two-world structure of the fantastic short stories by H. G. Wells (1866–1946). It exposes trickster games in the storytelling and pinpoints Wells’s staple methods of artistic composition – the mounting of various literary tensions built upon the body of traditional, dexterously combined genre elements and innovative topoi.
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Chapter 2: Dream Visions from the Short-Story Workshop

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← 76 | 77 →

Chapter 2:  Dream Visions from the Short-Story Workshop

Oneiric Motivation for the Vision of the New World

Many Wells short stories motivate the confrontation of the mimetic-world character with the fantastic world by the convention of dream vision. When the Time Traveller teases his audience about the possibility of the fictionality of his tale, among some other suggestions he says: “No I cannot expect you to believe it. […] Say I dreamed it in the workshop” (The Time Machine 87). In this way he proposes an oneiric interpretation of his storytelling and propounds the genre context not only for this text but also for many others.

Wells’s use of some devices derived from the genre influence of the dream vision has hardly been analysed by scholarship. Hammond notices the appearance of the motif of a dream in such short stories as “Mr Skelmersdale in Fairyland” (1903), “The Door in the Wall,” and “A Dream of Armageddon.” However, he does not see it as a realization of any conventional devices (Wells and Short Story 116, 125, 142). Unlikely as it might seem for a turn-of-the-century author of scientific romances, Wells’s frequent use of dream-vision motivation puts him in the wake of such texts as the thirteenth-century French allegorical dream vision Le Roman de la Rose (started c. 1230 by Guillame de Lorris and completed c. 1275 by Jean de Meun; Chaucer’s translation printed 1532), as well as English medieval dream visions and...

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