Morlocks and Mudfish: Anthropocentrism and Evolution in the Early H.G. Wells
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This paper seeks to grapple with an apparent contradiction in H.G. Wells’s early thought and writings. While his early essays espouse a model of evolutionary theory that anticipates the non-telic models of the twentieth century, his first full-length novel, The Time Machine, seems to claim that humanity is doomed to a future of negative telos, an unstoppable downward path toward degeneration and extinction. By reading The Time Machine alongside a collection of Wells’s early writings, I argue that, while the narrative arc of the novel does map onto what Kelly Hurley calls an “entropic narrative,” the figure of the Morlock acts as a point of rupture that pushes back against the narrator’s story. Thus, the novel is both a depiction of the anthropocentrically biased science of the late nineteenth century and a critique of the concepts that underpin this science.