Human Prehistory in Fiction

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About the Book

What was the world like for people thousands of years ago? How can we know? Through fiction? This is a work of literary criticism, and more. It begins with a discussion of the problem of authenticity and then considers twelve pieces of fiction that depict human prehistory:
H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, Pierre Boulle’s The Planet of the Apes, Jules Verne’s The Village in the Treetops, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Land That Time Forgot, the struggle for legitimacy in Wells’ “The Grisly Folk,” the Tasmanian analogue in Lester Del Rey’s “The Day Is Done,” William Golding’s The Inheritors, “the promise of humanity” in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the theme of “a god among the heathen” in Wells’ “The Lord of the Dynamos” and other works, Jean Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear, J.H. Rosny-Aîné’s Quest for Fire, and Wells’ The Time Machine: An Invention.
A final chapter considers the paleoanthropologist as literary critic.

About the Author(s)

Charles De Paolo, the author of numerous books, is a professor of English at Manhattan Community College, the City University of New York. He lives in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Bibliographic Details

Charles De Paolo
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 172
Bibliographic Info: references, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1417-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8329-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents


Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii

Abbreviations     xi

Introduction     1

1 Heterogony and H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau     9

2 “A point in common”: Pierre Boulle’s The Planet of the Apes     18

3 Chains and Links: Jules Verne’s The Village in the Treetops     25

4 Phylosynthesis in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Land That Time Forgot    37

5 H.G. Wells’s “The Grisly Folk”: The Struggle for Legitimacy     46

6 Lester Del Rey’s “The Day Is Done” and the Tasmanian Analogue     59

7 William Golding’s The Inheritors: The Great Divide     72

8 Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey: “the promise of humanity”    79

9 H.G. Wells’s “The Lord of the Dynamos” and Related Works: “a god among the heathen”   94

10 Jean Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear: “defining the point”     113

11 J-H Rosny-Aîné’s Quest for Fire: The Archaic Twilight     120

12 H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine: The Days of Triumph     127

13 The Paleoanthropologist as Literary Critic     142

Works Cited     147

Index     157

Book Reviews & Awards

“comprehensive…interesting…recommended”—Choice; “an academically solid study”—Interzone; “fascinating and innovative…exemplary…highly recommend[ed]”—SFRA Review; “a fascinating casestudy of the relationship between individual works of fiction and their scientific context”—Science Fictions Studies; “fascinating…an important contribution…thoroughly readable and highly recommended”—Public Library Quarterly; “a fascinating read, demonstrating a detailed knowledge of fictions dealing with human prehistory…should be considered an important contribution to Wells studies…De Paolo captures Wells’s importance as a thinker as well as his skill and commitment as a storyteller…readable and highly recommended”—The Wellsian.