At the end of Chapter Two of The Time Machine, when the Time Traveller provides the brief summary of his journey he says:

I was in my laboratory at four o'clock, and since then... I've lived eight days...such days as no human being ever lived before!

However, at the beginning of Chapter Three, when telling the story in detail, he says:

I TOLD some of you last Thursday of the principles of the Time Machine, and showed you the actual thing itself, incomplete in the workshop. There it is now, a little travel-worn, truly; and one of the ivory bars is cracked, and a brass rail bent; but the rest of it's sound enough. I expected to finish it on Friday; but on Friday, when the putting together was nearly done, I found that one of the nickel bars was exactly one inch too short, and this I had to get re-made; so that the thing was not complete until this morning. It was at ten o'clock to-day that the first of all Time Machines began its career. I gave it a last tap, tried all the screws again, put one more drop of oil on the quartz rod, and sat myself in the saddle. I suppose a suicide who holds a pistol to his skull feels much the same wonder at what will come next as I felt then. I took the starting lever in one hand and the stopping one in the other, pressed the first, and almost immediately the second. I seemed to reel; I felt a nightmare sensation of falling; and, looking round, I saw the laboratory exactly as before. Had any-thing happened? For a moment I suspected that my intellect had tricked me. Then I noted the clock. A moment before, as it seemed, it had stood at a minute or so past ten; now it was nearly half-past three!

(my emphasis)

These two passages seem to provide contradictory accounts of when the time travel journey began. Was it at four o'clock or at ten o'clock?


1 Answer 1


The ten o'clock and the four o'clock are presumably referring to two different events. The first event occurred at ten o'clock when the Time Traveller used the machine for the first time. As described in the paragraph cited in the question, that was just a brief journey where at first he wasn't even sure that he had travelled at all. When he saw the clock reading half-past three he realized that he had travelled several hours into the future.

As described in the subsequent paragraph, he then began the main journey that the book is about. Given that his first foray had ended at half-past three, even considering that no delay is described before the second journey, it would have been close enough to four o'clock that he could rightfully have said that he was in his laboratory at four o'clock and then spent eight days in the future before returning to the present.


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