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


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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To the average, basically educated man/woman worldwide Herbert George Wells (21 September 1866–13 August 1946) is a recognizable literary figure. Despite the passage of time and changes in literary fashions, it is not only on the arena of literary criticism that he retains his status as one of the preeminent modern tellers of tales that have kindled the popular imagination. People sometimes pause to think when his name is mentioned, vaguely seeking a connection, but once the title of his first novella is mentioned, it usually inspires instant recognition. To the common reader worldwide he is, thus, still the man astride his Time Machine. From the perspective of a literary scholar, he is increasingly perceived as a versatile writer straddling his short stories. Yet despite the more or less universal recognition that his short fiction is one of the most artistically developed sections of his oeuvre, the state of Wells criticism in respect to his short stories is, indeed, incomplete and remains a fertile field for further critical exploration.

This volume is conceived as a prolegomenon to a discussion of the dominance of aesthetic patterns which are displayed by the short and long short fiction of H. G. Wells. It explores the systemic aspects of the multiple interconnected artistic tensions to be found in his fantastic short stories, which are distinguished by the twofold composition of their fictional world. The aim of this study is to identify the organizing principle of Wells’s commonly overlooked artistic...

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