Wednesday, February 1, 2017

First Lines Second Thoughts — H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man


First Lines Second Thoughts is a look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening words stand alone as poetry? Today, on this winter day, we look at the opening lines of H. G. Wells' classic, The Invisible Man. The tale was initially serialized in Pearson's Weekly before publication as a novel later that same year — 1897.


The stranger came early in February,
one wintry day,
through a biting wind
and a driving snow,
the last snowfall of the year,
over the down,
walking as it seemed
from Bramblehurst railway station,
and carrying a little black portmanteau
in his thickly gloved hand.


— H. G. Wells


A father of science fiction, Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times. Already celebrated as the author of The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau, H.G. Wells adopts a third-person objective point of view in The Invisible Man for the first time in his novels.

The titular invisible man is a scientist named Griffin. While able to render himself invisible through experimentation Griffin is unable to reverse the process and his mounting frustration sets him out on a reign of terror.