The Invisible man by

1 September 2012

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Another coursera course book, and another that fits with my reading for this years RIP project & for the 2012 Sci-Fi Challenge.

One wintry day in a small, quiet English village, a stranger appears. He takes a room at the inn and keeps himself to himself. But his intense privacy, the bandages he wears, and the way he never eats around other people all arouse the suspicion of the locals. They aren’t quite sure what he is, or what he has done, but they are positive he has done something, and the speculation and rumours grow and spread. None of them, however, come close to the truth. He is invisible!

The invisible man - H. G. Wells

The invisible man – H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man is a story the basics of which are known to many people. A scientist meddles and experiments, and succeeds in turning himself invisible. He thinks it will lead to all sorts of advantages for him. Of course he soon discovers that there are more disadvantages that advantages, and he is unable to turn himself visible.

It is a story of selfishness and madness.

And it is one of the founding books for the “mad scientist” trope. Frankenstein may have created a monster, but he wasn’t insane, just irresponsible. Dr. Moreau & Griffen, H. G. Wells’ characters are selfish and think of nothing but themselves. They are not the mad cackling men of popular culture, but they are still, to my mind, mad in that they pay no mind to society and other people. They think only of themselves and what they can get out of a situation. I’d be tempted to say that they probably come out of a conservative view of the world, in that they suggest that men are inherently inclined towards evil, and only society’s pressures and rules keeps people on the straight and narrow. I’m not sure I agree with that, but it certainly explains these books.

And although the central story here shares some similarities with The Island of Doctor Moreau the tone is utterly different. There the horror and the craziness was visible from the outset; here it is a much more restrained horror. It reads almost like a cosy mystery, with the strangeness being all the stranger because it occurs in the known and the usual, it happens in England, not in some foreign exotic island.

It is a solid read, and very entertaining, and I am glad I read it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever reread it though.

Other reviews: Book Clutter ; Howling Frog books

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13 Responses

  1. Cath says:

    I read a lot of H.G. Wells when I was younger, in fact it was probably War of the Worlds that pitched me headlong into a lifetime's love of science fiction. I honestly can't recall whether I ever read The Invisible Man. I must have, along with The Time Machine and so on. The one I haven't read is the one you've just read, The island of Dr. Moreau. I ought to put that right at some stage.

    • Fence says:

      I read The War of the Worlds years ago, I think I remember enjoying it but it has been so long… ;) I'll have to dig it out for a reread at some point.

  2. Rachel says:

    I had assumed that Wells was just exploring the tragic anti-hero, which seemed a popular theme for a couple of centuries. But you're right…he might just have a poor view of humanity. I'd have to read a biography to get a better idea. :)
    Rachel´s last blog post ..The literary background of Paradise Lost

    • Fence says:

      I've just submitted my essay for this assignment, not that happy with it, there were just too many things I wanted to write about and in the end didn't do any of the "cool" idea ones. Wrote about ambition instead :( ah well.

      I'm not sure if Wells was "conservative" its just the whole people without the restraint of society turning out evil that happened in both The Island & in Invisble Man. Plus Nunez in The Country of the Blind's first thought was, hey, all these people are blind, bet I can take advantage of that.

  3. I've meant to read H.G. Wells in the past and keep passing it by when I know I shouldn't. Might have to pick this one up soon!
    Natalie ~ the Coffee´s last blog post ..The Gods of Gotham, by Lyndsay Faye (Audio Review)

  4. Carl V. says:

    It is sad for me to admit this but I honestly can't remember if I've read this or not. I have this feeling that I did read it as a kid when I was making my way through various horror classics, but it is just as likely that this is some false memory. I know I've seen the old film version of this a couple of times and enjoyed it.

    Given your 'cozy mystery' description and my admittedly faulty memory I'm going to have to go ahead and add this one to my to read (or to read again) list.
    Carl V.´s last blog post ..The Insomniacs ~Karina Wolf, The Brothers Hilts

    • Fence says:

      Well, cozy mystery with… erm.. some violence :)

      I know what you mean about not being able to remember if I've read a certain book or just know all about it from popular culture.

  5. Fence says:

    It's actually amazing how much he has written.

  6. Debi says:

    I actually think your cozy mystery feel was a good description. Hadn't really thought of it in that fashion before, but as soon as I read your words, I thought, "Wow. Yes." :)
    Debi´s last blog post ..Locke & Key…thoughts along the way…

  7. Jim Black says:

    I read this book for one of the previous RIP Challenges. Similar to what you said, I enjoyed it but will not re-read it.
    Jim Black´s last blog post ..Echoes by Joshua Fialkov and Rahsan Ekedal

  8. fence says:

    Have you read any of Wells' other books, lots of different styles really.I haven't read even a quarter but surprised by the differences even still. Will be looking out good for more of good books.
    fence´s last blog post ..The left hand of darkness

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