(London: C. Arthur Pearson, 1897). 200 x 133 mm. (7 1/2 x 4 7/8"). viii, 245, [1] pp., [1] leaf (ads). FIRST EDITION.

Publisher's red cloth. Cloth lightly soiled, spine slightly and uniformly sunned and with faint vertical crease, paper along rear hinge separating (but board still firmly attached), leaves not bright because of inferior paper quality; an inexpensively made book, so, in relative terms, a very decent copy, without many signs of use and with nothing approaching a fatal condition issue.

This is a major book by one of the most significant British authors at work during the final years of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th. The prolific and durable Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) is most famous for his imaginative fiction from the 1890s, works like the present volume, along with "The Time Machine" (1895), "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (1896), "War of the Worlds" (1898) and "When the Sleeper Awakes" (1899), all of which helped to establish Wells as a master of science fiction. By the time Wells died, he had published more than 100 books and earned his fame not only as a writer, but also as a minor prophet who accurately predicted war planes, tanks, the atomic bomb, and World War II. The present "scientific romance" is a retelling of Plato's "Ring of Gyges" parable, which asked if any reasonable man would still act morally if granted the power of invisibility. A rogue scientist has made himself invisible, but finds the life of the unseen more difficult than expected. He soon turns to crime, and plans a "Reign of Terror" before being brought to justice by a quick-thinking doctor. DNB notes that Wells "stands midway between the older traditions of the learned satire, the utopia, and the marvelous voyage, and the 20th-century growth of mass-entertainment technological fantasy." This fragile item is difficult to find in pleasing condition.

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PJP Catalog: 72.239