The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells (published 1897) is another fascinating science fiction look at the implications of a changing world of acceptance. The titular character in this story, Griffin, is an albino who had once studied medicine. Tired of being marginalized for his strange appearance, he undergoes medical experiments, ultimately succeeding in creating a formula for invisibility. He hopes that by being invisible, he can blend in with his environment, get back at those who have marginalized him, and seek power and glory by gaining access previously denied him.Continue Reading
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (originally published 1895) is a short novella that, on the surface, is about a man who invents and then uses a time machine to travel 800,000 years into the future. More specifically, however, The Time Machine is about class division. In the futuristic world the Time Traveller visits, the evolved humans of the future have become divided into two different types: Eloi and Morlocks. The existence of two very distinct types of evolved humans comments on the dangers of living with distinct social classes.
My first Thomas Hardy novel was simply fantastic. Emotionally poignant but also socially resonant, Tess of the D’Ubervilles provides an intriguing story about Victorian social and sexual hypocrisy through characters with clear flaws to recognize and appreciate. And yet, although it was clearly a commentary on the social structures and sexual morality in Victorian England, Hardy never once lectured or made his novel about those issues. At first and last glance, the book is a tender one about one poor woman and those who associate with her.
Note: this post contains spoilers for the entire novel.
Ah, my Wilkie! It is so nice to come back to your familiar voice!
Except no two narrators in Wilkie Collins’ novels have the same voice. It is one of Collins’ masterpieces of talent that he creates unforgettable narrators with personality and voice. His novels are such a delightful comfort read for me because they are so full of life and personality. I love a good Victorian novel, and Wilkie Collins’ sensation novels are a perfect escape.
In Poor Miss Finch, the narrator is Madame Protolungo, a widowed French woman, true to the memory of her Republican husband. She is living in England and as the novel begins, she is beginning new employment as a lady’s companion to a wealthy young woman who happens to be blind. Lucilla Finch is the daughter of the rector of Dimchurch, but due to complicated circumstances she lives independently from her father with her own fortune. When she falls in love with a young man named Oscar and a surgery is discovered that may help her regain her sight, she wants to under go the surgery at any cost so she can see her adored lover. But when Oscar’s identical twin brother Nugent arrives in Dimchurch, Lucilla’s situation is confused with humorous and sensational (of course) results!
Wilkie Collins introduces a number of fascinating and memorable characters in Poor Miss Finch: the conceited Rector, the milky mother (Mrs. Finch) of nearly a dozen youngsters, Madame Prolungo, Herr Grosse the optician, and more. Further, he creates a love triangle and a situation that is page-turning. I’ve been reading lots of more serious nonfiction lately, so reading a book full of sensational characters, situations, and exaggerations was just what I needed. Although I could look at it more deeply (think of the significance of Dimchurch versus the seaside in terms of Lucilla’s vision, for one obvious example), I chose to read this just for fun. And it was!
Poor Miss Finch, while possibly not as complex as Armadale or The Woman in White, is still a Wilkie Collins classic with delightful characters and a fun plot. I am glad I read it this fall!