Two authors so different in their similitude

H.G. Wells and C.S. Lewis


Two authors so different and yet so close because they had the same backdrop on the stage of their lives, the backdrop of totalitarian regimes, of genocide, mass killing, and war; the backdrop of the desire never to see it again.

And yet both will not be the prophets they might have wanted to be. H.G. Wells engulfed his work in eugenics and social Darwinism. C.S. Lewis invented a fantasy world for children.

Both have become crucial to our modern consciousness, all the more now some western leaders openly speak of war as if it were necessary. It sure reveals their weakness in front of the challenges of a globalized world.

Research Interests: Film Studies, History Of Eugenics, Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Cinema, Time Perception, Film, Cinema Studies, and Social Darwinism

Time Travel is the utmost adventure

Jacques Coulardeau & H.G. Wells at (21)




Dr. Jacques Coulardeau



University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne

University of Paris Dauphine*



Université Paris Dauphine

Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne

Herbert Georges Wells (1866–1946) witnessed eighty years of our developing industrial world during which all basic productive activities bloomed to produce our present mass consumer society based on mass production and the industrial and agricultural, financial, services, communications, entertainment and labor mass markets. He witnessed the growth of the two extreme ideologies produced by this industrial world, communism (or Stalinism) and Nazism (or fascism). He also witnessed the development of biology and particularly Darwinism and his evolution of species, the survival of the fittest, and the birth and elaboration of the theory of relativity and the physics that emerged from it or at the same time. Finally, he witnessed, both in Europe and the USA, the junction of the analysis of society in two antagonistic classes and their class struggle for domination, even reduced to the American simplified approach of the rich and the poor, what he calls himself the “haves” and the “have-nots” (53) on one hand, and Darwinism on the other hand. He died in 1946 after witnessing the fall of the extreme racist form of this social Darwinism (Nazism and fascism) but also the seemingly triumphant expansion of the second form of it, Stalinism.

The Time Machine was published in 1895.We should also consider Wells’ The Invisible Man (1897). Wells first warns us about the biological-and-social-danger of our social Darwinism in The Time Machine and about the plain criminal danger of the uncontrolled development of science in The Invisible Man. This cannot represent a fear of the modern world since Wells was a socialist, but the sign of an independent mind in symbiosis with a quickly changing world.

I will concentrate on the ideological message of The Time Machine along with two adaptations of this short novel to the silver screen. George Pal’s (1960) shows how the book was read before 1968, the turning point towards mass-consumerism and mass-communication. Simon Wells’ (2002) shows how it is read after the no-return turning point of globalization, September 11 and the war on terror. These two adaptations deviate from the original novella in concordance with their times. I will consider these two films in Marshall McLuhan’s perspective that states the message is the medium, which implies the meaning of the films can only be considered from the moment the films meet an audience. The audience gives meaning to the film that is nothing but a hollow shell otherwise. Note this approach is similar to Kenneth Burke’s dramatist theory. This implies that a film’s meaning will change through time along with the audience that builds meaning into the film.

Meet C.S. Lewis & Jacques Coulardeau, that’s so long ago but … (22)

We are living an extraordinary time and many people don’t seem to see it. When the Soviet bloc fell down the historical chute, Gadoosh!!!, the USA suddenly found themselves alone as a superpower since Russia was in the hands of a drunk and China was just starting its emergence.

Today nearly thirty years later things are so different that we definitely feel angst and experience dizziness in the present fuzziness. And some politicians have taken advantage of this situation to conquer power though they do NOT know what to do with it, which is extremely dangerous: the populists are the worst war mongers you can imagine.

The USA should be the second economy in the world within one or two years and maybe the third one within ten years or less. China will be first soon (though it is already first in PPP, according to IMF). India will be second within a few years. Sorry, USA, you will be third before the 2024 elections.

Trump was elected on the myth that he could turn the clocks backward and make America great again, that is to say, #1 forever. And to do that he drops all multilateral cooperation in the world and menaces all those he cannot drop, isolating himself in the world and dragging the second populist hell, Great Britain, down with him. Even Canada or Mexico cultivate their relationship with the European Community and China.

That’s when C.S. Lewis becomes interesting since he imagines a world of cooperation and unity instead of a world of competition and war. It is high time Trump and Theresa May hear the call of the Lion Aslan, otherwise, they will be the playthings of the Witch in the wardrobe of in-between transmutation, sucking on their Turkish delight, or Luqum since they prefer Sunni Arabs.

C.S. Lewis is more present, alive and pregnant today than even in 1950 when he brought Narnia out of his mind into the reality of the dream of a world without dictators and wars, of a world out of the Cold War.






Colloque C.S. LEWIS — 2–3 juin 2011




And other films


All Amazon reviews of CS Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles

and various adaptations for TV and the cinema



I would like to say from the very start that I will only consider The Chronicles of Narnia in their seven volumes (1950–1956), and the four BBC adaptations. So I will not consider the various cinema adaptations and the other works by C.S. Lewis (1898–1963). The second thing I want to be very clear about is that I am not going to psychoanalyze neither the author nor The Chronicles. It would be interesting to do so from a certain point of view. This is not mine here.

I will concentrate on the political and ideological model that can be found in The Chronicles. But I want to be clear about one thing before starting. For me, children’s literature is just as mature as any other form and type of literature and it deserves to be analyzed exactly the same way as any other fiction. We do not have to suspend our disbelief but as C.S. Lewis says himself: “You cannot know. You can only believe or not.”

And I have chosen to believe what C.S. Lewis tells us, no matter how creative and imaginative it may be. I will start with the background I have chosen, i.e. T.S. Eliot (1888–1965) and H.G. Wells (1866–1946). T.S. Eliot, particularly in his play Murder in the Cathedral (1935) deals with the question of martyrdom when a church official is confronted to an attempt at limiting the church’s freedom from the state or any other institution.

This vision of martyrdom became a real backdrop for C.S. Lewis because of the play at the end of the 1930s in the Canterbury Festival, then the film at the beginning of the 1950s and finally the opera by Pizzetti in Italian and in German (for Karajan) at the beginning of the 1960s, too late for The Chronicles.

H.G. Wells defends a eugenic vision of the world and he is a backdrop for C.S. Lewis because of the vast and lasting success of his early novels like The Time Machine (1895) or The Invisible Man (1897) at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century and because of his commitment to eugenics all his life in many writings, in film with his 1936 Things to Come by Alexander Korda and William Cameron Menzies in which he envisaged the end of the world we know by a universal war in 1940 and the rebuilding of a truly human society.

The Time Machine was adapted a first time by George Pal in 1960, an adaptation that may have come across to C.S. Lewis though too late for The Chronicles. Of course, the second adaptation by Simon Wells in 2002 does not have to be considered, though the great-grandson of the author corrects part of the eugenics of his great-grandfather.



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