The Invisible Man (1897) by H.G. Wells
With his face swaddled in bandages, his eyes hidden behind dark glasses and his hands covered even indoors, Griffin – the new guest at the Coach and Horses – is at first assumed to be a shy accident victim. But the true reason for his disguise is far more chilling: he has developed a process that has made him invisible, and is locked in a struggle to discover the antidote. Forced from the village and driven to murder, he seeks the aid of his old friend Kemp. The horror of his fate has affected his mind, however – and when Kemp refuses to help, he resolves to wreak his revenge.
Was it what I expected?
Not at all! It was much more slapstick than I expected — extensive scenes of crowds bumbling over themselves and the Invisible Man in the street, that sort of thing. I imagine one could draw some allegorical conclusions, and the Man’s psychology is rather interesting, but there’s not much in the way of substance otherwise. A large chunk of this slim volume is devoted to entirely fictional scientific explanations.
Did I like it?
It flows well, but I found it rather forgettable beyond the basic conceit. I think Wells may have just been interested in the concept too, rather than the characters he invented to flesh it out. Although, again, the Man is rather interesting, not because he gradually becomes unhinged but because we gradually understand how unhinged he really is. I’ll definitely seek out the Universal movie, because I’ve heard it’s a very good performance, and this book mostly just prompted me to be interested in that film.
Is it worth reading?
Sure, it’s a quick one, but I wouldn’t go out of my way.
2 thoughts on “Classics Club Review: The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells”
I heard that Wells was very displeased with the movie version, because it made out that the serum made the man go insane, rather than that he was always damaged goods and the invisibility just brought it out more transparantly. (I apologize for that phrasing…)
I’ve been thinking I might read some Wells for the “classic genre fiction” challenge for Read Harder. What’s his prose style like?
I’d believe that. Really it makes much more wense that he was literally a “mad scientist” all along, why else would he be so obsessed with something like an invisibility serum?
His prose is excellent, a scientific bent but always moving along and drawing you in. I highly recommend The Time Machine.