The Invisible Man stands out as possessing one of the most complicated heroes, or perhaps anti-heroes, in literature. Griffin is not a naïve dreamer such as Moreau’s Pendick or a hapless victim of circumstances like the unnamed narrator of The War of the Worlds. He is a man of great genius and great faults. Perhaps closest in character to the time traveler, the invisible man wants to the change the world through his invention. Griffin’s genius, however, is selfish—no one profits from his experiments, not even himself. A thoroughly unlikeable character defined by impulsiveness, arrogance, rudeness, and, at times, violence, Griffin is a man of the late-nineteenth century—he is a man of the future. The Invisible Man is not only a commentary on the great spirit of invention that elevated the nineteenth century but also a warning against the eugenic and self-interested policies that almost destroyed the twentieth century.
This edition includes a valuable collection of the nineteenth-century narratives of invisibility that inspired Wells’s novel; an appendix also gathers four different versions of the novel’s ending. The historical appendices focus on the novel’s scientific and cultural contexts, including material on X-rays, albinism, and radio waves.
Appendix A: The Four Endings of The Invisible Man
a) Pearson’s Weekly, August 1897
b) Pearson, First Edition, September 1897
c) Pearson, Second Edition, November 1897
d) Arnold, New York Edition, November 1897
Appendix B: Invisibility in Nineteenth-Century Fiction
a) James Dalton. From The Invisible Gentleman. London: Edward Bull, 1833. I: 61-72.
b) Fitz-James O’Brien. From “What Was It? A Mystery” Harper’s Magazine (March 1859): 504-9.
c) W. S. Gilbert, “The Perils of Invisibility” (1869). More “Bab” Ballads: Much Sound and Little Sense. London: Routledge, 1872. 178-183.
d) Edward Page Mitchell. From “The Crystal Man” The Sun (30 January 1881)
e) Charles H. Hinton. From “Stella.” Stella and An Unfinished Communication: Studies of the Unseen. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co, 1895. 55-56.
f) Katherine Kip. From “My Invisible Friend” The Black Cat (February 1897): 9-21.
Appendix C: Reviews of The Invisible Man
a) From “Mr. Wells’s New Stories.” Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science, and Art (18 September 1897), lxxxiv. 322.
b) Arnold Bennett. “The Invisible Man.” [Woman 405 (29 September 1897): 9] Arnold Bennett and H.G. Wells: A Record of a Personal and Literary Friendship. Ed. Harris Wilson. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1960. 258-59.
c) Letter from H.G. Wells replying to Arnold Bennett (October 1897)
d) Clement Shorter. From “The Invisible Man.” The Bookman [London] (October 1897): 19-20.
e) Claudius Clear. From “The Fantastic Fiction; Or, ‘The Invisible Man.’” The Bookman [New York] 6 (November 1897): 250-51.
f) “H.G. Wells’s ‘The Invisible Man.’” The New York Times (25 December 1897): BR15.
Appendix D: Wells and Friends on The Invisible Man
a) Extract from Letter, H.G. Wells to James B. Pinker (Received 16 April 1896).
b) Extract from Letter, H.G. Wells to James B. Pinker (Undated).
c) H.G. Wells to James B. Pinker (2 May 1897).
d) Joseph Conrad to H.G. Wells (4 December 1898). From Joseph Conrad: Life and Letters. Ed. G. Jean-Aubry. New York: Doubleday, 1927. 259-60.
Appendix E: Biological Context
a) J. Lockhart Gerson, from “On the ‘Invisible Blood Corpuscles’ of Norris.” Journal of Anatomy and Physiology: Normal and Pathological. Macmillan and Co.: London and Cambridge, 1882.
b) From W. Robinson, “Notes on Some Albino Birds Presented to the U.S. National Museum, with Some Remarks on Albinism.” Proceedings of The United States National Museum, volume 11, issue 733, 1889.
c) From H.G. Wells, “Popular Feeling and the Advancement of Science. Anti-Vivisection.” The Way the World is Going: Guesses and Forecasts of the Years Ahead. London: Ernest Benn, 1928. 222-227.
Appendix F: Technology Contexts: Röntgen Rays and Radio Waves
a) Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. From “On a New Kind of Rays” Trans. Arthur Stanton. Nature 53 (23 January 1896): 274-276.
b) H.J.W. Dam. From “A Wizard of To-Day.” Pearson’s Magazine. 1 (April 1896): 413-19.
c) George Griffith, “A Photograph of the Invisible” Pearson’s Magazine 1 (April 1896) 378-80.
d) H.J.W. Dam “The New Telegraphy” The Strand Magazine 13 (March 1897): 273-80.
Appendix G: Wells on Class and Society
a) H.G. Wells. From Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought. United Kingdom; Chapman and Hall, 1901: 229-30.
b) H.G. Wells. From A Modern Utopia. London: Chapman and Hall, 1905. 265-70.
c) H.G. Wells. From “Of the New Reign.” An Englishman Looks at the World: Being a Series of Unrestrained Remarks upon Contemporary Matters. London: Cassel & Co, 1914. 28-32.
d) H.G. Wells. From Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusions of A Very Ordinary Brain (since 1866). Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1934: 556.