In chapter Four of The Time Machine, the Time Traveller states:

But the fruits were very delightful; one, in particular, that seemed to be in season all the time I was there — a floury thing in a three-sided husk — was especially good, and I made it my staple.

However, earlier in Chapter Two he had said:

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!

Apparently, then, his entire stay in the future only spanned eight days. Now I am no expert in agriculture or botany, but a fruit being in season for eight days doesn't seem to be a big deal. I doubt there are any fruits that are in season for fewer than eight days.

Is there some other significance here? Am I peradventure missing something obvious?

1 Answer 1


He's not necessarily suggesting there's anything special about it being in season for 8 days.

The sentence that you quote is part of the time traveller describing day-to-day life in the world of the distant future, what the Eloi wear and how they eat. Since they're eating fruit, one would expect their diet to vary quite a bit depending on the seasons, so his remark about "in season" might be just to clarify that he ate this fruit all the time that he was there but it probably wouldn't be a year-long diet of the future.

This serves as a reminder, both to his audience and to us as readers, that his knowledge of their eating habits is restricted to a short period, and he doesn't know what fruit might be in season at other times of the year. It helps establish some realism in the story, to include the reality check that a fruit diet would be season-dependent.

But there might be something special about exotic fruit being in season at all.

As @muru pointed out in comments, for an Englishman at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, exotic fruit would be something he'd rarely seen and maybe never seen fresh. There is no season for e.g. oranges or mangoes in Britain; they would've been imported or grown in greenhouses. As such, it would've been a source of wonder for "delightful" fruits to be in season at all, in what's presumably a distant-future version of Britain (after many millennia of climate change, tectonic shift, etc.).

I can speak to this from my own experience, growing up in Britain (even a century later than Wells's protagonist) and then visiting Mediterranean regions where orange trees are frequent - they didn't lose their wonder for me even after many times seeing them in the wild. Remember that Britain is a country where you'd be lucky to get 8 days in a row without rain.

It might indicate an earlier draft where his visit to the future lasted longer than 8 days?

This is purely speculative, but perhaps this line is left over from an earlier version of the text where Wells had his time traveller spending longer in the future, long enough that some fruits might be expected to go in and out of season. Then the comment "seemed to be in season all the time I was there" would make more sense.

I didn't go digging to find detailed info on the textual history of this novel, but I did find a paper claiming that "Despite re-reading and revising, Wells still made no changes to the chronology of the story." (That paper proposes a theory, which seems rather far-fetched to me but is supported by evidence, that the time traveller is actually a fraud who went on a bicycle ride rather than travelling in time. You might find it interesting to read - it also mentions, as supporting evidence, the same apparent contradiction that you found in your earlier question.)

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    Also to be noted that during the Time Traveller's time, exotic fruit would be rare and imported in limited quantities. If they're having this fruit often during his time in the future, it would also be implying that the fruit is indeed likely local, and not preserved in some way.
    – muru
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 8:07
  • @muru Ooh, that's an excellent point! It would explain why he finds it worthy of remark that such fruit "seemed to be in season". Do you want to add a second answer? If not, I'll incorporate your comment into mine.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 8:19
  • It's fine, go ahead!
    – muru
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 8:21
  • Is it for sure established that he's still in Britain (the island, not the country) in the far future? Or that Britain is still in the same place? My understanding is he went so far forward in time, the geography of the world might bear little resemblance to present day. Britain may be in fact be in the tropics 800,000 years from now. (Due to tectonic shift and/or global warming, though Wells may not have known about either of those). Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 13:21
  • @DarrelHoffman Edited to mention tectonic shift as well as climate change. Of course after so many millennia there'd be no recognisable "Britain", even as an island let alone a country. (It's less than 200,000 years since Britain wasn't an island!) But the protagonist may not realise that, if he's stayed "in the same place" and moved forwards in time - or even if he does, the climate would still be something interesting and noteworthy to him.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 13:30

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