H. G. Wells is one of those second-tier writers whose admirers always seem anxious that their man isn’t getting his due. In the case of Wells, their anxieties are, to my mind, terrifically unwarranted. The best of his books are still in print and frequently taught in graduate courses. The three most famous of them—The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, and The Invisible Man—are known all over the world, even by people with only the foggiest clue who their author was. In 2005, a film adaptation of War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg and earning $590 million, closely tracked Wells’s narrative and credited the author prominently. As I write these words, David Lodge, one of the most eminent writers in the English-speaking world, has just published a fictional account of Wells’s amorous adventures: surely an indication that H. G. Wells is an Important Subject.

Even...

 
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