Welcome to the second of The Mark Steyn Club's Tales for Our Time, in which we serialize some classic fiction I've mentioned in my books and columns over the years. This latest audio adventure is The Time Machine, written by H G Wells and first published in The New Review in 1895. If you missed the first episode, you can find it here. Founding Member Diana Kington enjoyed it:
Your introduction to the new book is brilliant! Thanks so much.
Thank you, Diana. In tonight's episode, we pick up where we left off - with the Time Traveler about to demonstrate his "time machine" to his dinner guests. When next they see him, he has returned from the future with an account of life on earth many centuries hence - but with eerie lessons for our own age. Truly a tale for our time: To hear Part Two of my audio adaptation of The Time Machine, please click here.
We always get questions about the accompanying music: The theme for Tales for Our Time is Elgar's Imperial March, Op 32, written two years after The Time Machine. The music we use for the serial itself is the famous Scherzo from Mahler's Resurrection Symphony: Our graphics department grievously wronged poor old Gustav in one of our telly ventures yesterday, so I felt we needed to make it up to him. The third movement was, as it happens, written two years before Wells' tale.
There's a reason I like to pick more or less contemporaneous compositions for our stories: I was always puzzled by the way a music scholar could tell you everything about the music that was being composed in, say, the 1850s, but often had no idea of or interest in the paintings of the period; likewise, an art critic could tell you everything about the paintings being painted in the 1850s, but often had no idea about the plays or operas of the period. There's a tendency to think vertically down the development of one's area of expertise, rather than horizontally across the field - and my own view is that, in the heyday of our civilization, painters were very much aware of what composers were doing, and composers were very much aware of what poets were doing, and so on. Which is a pretentious way of explaining how I choose the music for our adaptations - although in this case I should add a footnote: while the third movement was indeed written two years before Wells' story, Mahler's symphony didn't receive its first performance until six years after. I've always felt, though, that that Scherzo's spooky unsettled quality sounds at least potentially time-travelly.
If you've only joined The Mark Steyn Club this month, you may have missed our first serialization - The Tragedy of the Korosko, by Sherlock Holmes' creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Susan Miller is playing catch-up:
I just finished listening to Part 1 of the Korosko. I thoroughly enjoyed your narration and realized that I would probably pay money to hear you read the phone book!
While I've no doubt you have chosen what will prove to be a great tale, the telling of it can't be ignored. Loved your choice of theme music, too.
That would be In the Mystic Land of Egypt by one of my favorite composers of light-music exotica, Albert Ketèlbey. We may do a special on him. But, if you haven't yet heard my serialization of The Tragedy of the Korosko, you can find all fifteen episodes here (scroll down).
Tales for Our Time is an experimental feature we introduced as a bonus for Mark Steyn Club members, and, as you know, I said if it was a total stinkeroo, we'd eighty-six the thing and speak no more of it. But I'm thrilled to say it's proving very popular, and looks like it'll be around a while. If you're a Club member and you incline more to the stinkeroo view of it, give it your best in the Comments Section below.
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