While we are increasingly challenged to imagine a world without humans, we have also become increasingly attentive to the subject of empathy, in popular culture, the humanities, and the sciences. In The Time Machine (1895), and a number of essays on evolution or extinction, H. G. Wells articulated a speculative evolutionary theory, a vision of nature unencumbered by everyday anthropocentricism. His little-known 1936 novella, The Croquet Player, continues his evolutionary story of humanity by turning to the future’s entanglement with the past and culture’s entanglement with nature. Prescient, Wells’s novella speaks to the parallel phenomena entangled in the strange relation between extinction and empathy.
“The Ingenious Unravelling of Evidence”: Empathy, Extinction, and Wells’s The Croquet Player
Helena Feder is associate professor of literature and environment at East Carolina University, where she directs the Great Books Program, a multidisciplinary critical humanities consortium. She has published numerous articles and interviews, a few poems, and one book, Ecocriticism and the Idea of Culture (2014/2016). Feder is a Mellon/ACLS fellow in residence at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2019–20, at work on a book of essays.
Helena Feder; “The Ingenious Unravelling of Evidence”: Empathy, Extinction, and Wells’s The Croquet Player. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 September 2019; 65 (3): 261–288. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-7852086
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