In this, the second H. G. Wells book that I have read, it has become evident to me that his religion was science. And that through science he found a way to explain human behavior. He places his characters in fantastical circumstances and then in the most simple way reveals the most basic human emotions.
The only thing I feel for the hero of the book is pity. Even when he’s acting and speaking crazy one can’t help but feel sorry for him. After all he had to become invisible in body to become visible in his ideas. And you know where he’s coming from. It’s like that dream you have when you’re little of sitting naked in the middle of the classroom and all the kids pointing and laughing at you ( usually exam related dream). Well what if you were naked but nobody could see you? Wouldn’t you do something to draw their attention to your presence? Wouldn’t you laugh at their expense when they couldn’t figure out what was going on?
It was a very emotional book for me, very different from the more science fiction books he wrote but equally engaging.
We do need to make adjustments for the clever way that HG Wells tells his story. He shows us the marvel of the invisible man through other characters’ points of view long before he lets the invisible man speak as narrator. He brings the concept of wonder down to a very mundane level. This is science fiction told largely on the stage of a village pub and an ordinary house.
Not many writers can make the marvellous and the mundane blend together like this.
We ought to recognise that HG Wells was writing in a time of wonder when science was starting to do amazing things. It probably seemed as if anything would be possible. What he gives us is science fiction as a domestic drama. He is saying “this is what it would feel like in real life”
This may be hard for us to understand. HG Wells was writing at the beginning of the age of wonder. We are somewhere in the middle. For us the concept of invisibility is well accepted, but for HG Wells and his readers it would have been a thing of wonder.
One last thing of note: novels of this time are refreshing, in retrospect, in their simplicity and the local level of horror. There is nothing earth-threatening here, nothing globe-shaking. It’s one crazy dude who is invisible fucking with kids and breaking windows, declaring that the world is his. Really a striking method of fiction when you think about it.