Installment 2 Annotations Transcript

The War of the Worlds: Pearson’s Magazine Installment 2 Annotations

by Madeline B. Gangnes

This installment comprises the text that is roughly comparable to Book I (“The Coming of the Martians”), Chapters V-VIII of the 1898 collected edition and subsequent versions.

The majority of the annotations on this page draw from the following critical editions of The War of the Worlds:

DANAHAY: Martin A. Danahay. The War of the Worlds. Broadview Press, 2003.

HUGHES AND GEDULD: David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld, eds. A Critical Edition of The War of the Worlds: H. G. Wells’s Scientific Romance, with Introduction and Notes by David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld. Indiana UP, 1993.

MCCONNELL: Frank McConnell, ed. The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds: A Critical Edition. Oxford UP, 1977.

STOVER: Leon Stover. The War of the Worlds: A Critical Text of the 1898 London First Edition, with an Introduction, Illustrations and Appendices. McFarland and Company, Inc, 2001.

Madeline Gangnes has added additional annotations and resources, especially those that address materials related to Pearson’s Magazine and adaptations of the text. They are cited with their source(s) (where applicable) and referenced as GANGNES.

Annotation: SUMMARY

GANGNES: Summaries like these are common in serialized fiction, as they are in comics and in television series–a kind of “previously on” bit of information. This not only reminds readers of what happened in the previous installment (which in this case would have been released a month prior), but also allows new readers to jump in at a later issue if they missed out. This was especially important in cases where an issue of a popular magazine or newspaper might have been sold out.

Annotation: accosted

From DANAHAY 56: “spoke to or grabbed hold of”

Annotation: attenuated

From DANAHAY 57: thin

Annotation: from the direction of Horsell

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 204: from the southwest

Annotation: waving a white flag

GANGNES: which is to say, signaling peace or surrender

Annotation: Deputation

GANGNES: In this case, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary: “a body of persons appointed to go on a mission on behalf of another or others”

Annotation: came out of the pit

From HUGHES AND GEDULD: Likely a reference to Revelation 9:2: “and there arose a smoke out of the pit….”

Annotation: towards Chertsey

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 204: to the north

Annotation: And then something happened, so swift, so incredible, that for a time it left me dumbfounded, not understanding at all the thing that I had seen.

GANGNES: Cut from the 1898 volume. This is another instance (see Installment 1) where a comment about the narrator’s feelings has been removed. See text comparison page.

Annotation: the ghost of a beam of light

GANGNES: The differences between Cosmo Rowe’s illustrations and Warwick Goble’s exemplify the difficulties presented for illustrators by invisibility or near-invisibility. Different illustrators have chosen to depict the heat ray in different ways that make clear the cause-and-effect relationship of the ray being pointed and its targets being lit on fire. Usually this requires a visual representation, even though the ray is described as invisible.

Annotation: by the light of their destruction

GANGNES: The narrator is only able to see the people who are burning because the fire burning on their bodies creates light.

Annotation: It was the occurrence of a second, this swift, unanticipated, inexplicable death.

GANGNES: This sentence was cut from the 1898 volume. It begins a section of the text–from here through the end of Chapter V, that was heavily revised in the transition from serialized version to volume. Again, most of these revisions deemphasize the emotional (and sometimes physical) responses of the narrator to the Martians. This takes the focus of Wells’s depictions of the Martians off of the narrator and perhaps allows the reader to form their own emotional response with minimal mediation from the narrator. See text comparison page.

Annotation: furze bush

From MCCONNELL 143: “a spiny shrub with yellow flowers, very common throughout England and Europe”

Annotation: Knap Hill

GANGNES: Changed to “Knaphill” in the 1898 edition and subsequent versions.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 204 and 230: Knaphill is ~3 miles due west from Horsell Common. The distances might seem exaggerated to today’s readers, but they are presented from a pedestrian’s perspective.

Annotation: the road from Woking Station

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 204: “The Chertsey and the Chobham roads start at Woking station, then divide. The ‘Something’ that ‘fell with a crash far away to the left’ fell presumably to the west. So the road referred to here is presumably the Chobham Road.”

Annotation: mustering

From DANAHAY 59: “Literally collecting together, but here figuratively meaning becoming more numerous.”

Annotation: the peace of the evening

GANGNES: like the peace that the white flag was supposed to signal

Annotation: I did not dare to look back

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 203-4: “I did not dare to look back” is another reference to the petrifying gaze of the Gorgon (first referenced in Chapter IV). Gorgons are monsters from Greek myths “whose hair was a tangle of writing snakes.” Humans were irresistibly tempted to look at them, but doing so would turn the viewer to stone.

Note: See Medusa as an example.

Annotation: parabolic

From DANAHAY 60: bowl shaped

Annotation: much as the parabolic mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light

From STOVER 81: “The Heat-Ray is often taken as a prophecy of beam-focused lasers, but this is to miss the photographic metaphor Wells uses: ‘the camera that fired the Heat-Ray,’ ‘the camera-like generator of the Heat-Ray.’ The Martians’ rayguns are in fact cameras in reverse, emitting light not receiving it, and they are in fact mounted on tripods as were the heavy old cameras of the day. What they see they zap. More, the photo-journalistic realism of the invasion recounted by the narrator recalls that of Roger Fenton, whose coverage of the Crimean War in 1855 is the first instance of a war photographer on the scene of action. His pictures were accompanied by sensational stories done by the famed William Howard Russell of the London Times, the first war correspondent in the modern sense. The narrator’s account is modeled after both precedents, visually and journalistically.”

GANGNES: Stover here gestures (though not by name) to MCCONNELL (145), whose note is quoted by HUGHES AND GEDULD in their edition. MCCONNELL’S note reads: “Though the details of the heat-ray are vague, they do anticipate in some remarkable ways the development of the laser beam in the 1950s.”

That said, MCCONNELL and others rightly point to one of the numerous instances in which Wells’s descriptions of technologies and events appear prescient. Indeed, many of the Martian technologies seem to anticipate military tech developed for use in the First and Second World Wars. For an analysis of The War of the Worlds and its early illustrations as they relate to early twentieth-century warfare, see Gangnes, “Wars of the Worlds: H.G. Wells’s Ekphrastic Style in Word and Image” in Art and Science in Word and Image: Exploration and Discovery (Brill, 2019), pp. 100-114.

Annotation: incontinently

From DANAHAY 60: immediately

Annotation: the common from Horsell to Maybury

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 204: distance of ~1 mile

Annotation: gloaming

From DANAHAY 60: twilight

Annotation: mounted

GANGNES: riding a horse

Annotation: collision

GANGNES: In this case, an attack or conflict. Stent and Ogilvy sent their telegraph before there was any sign of overt hostility from the Martians; they contacted the barracks so that the soldiers might come to the pit and protect the Martians from being attacked by humans, not the other way around.

Annotation: hummock

From MCCONNELL 146: “a small knoll or hill”

Annotation: the mounted policeman came galloping through the confusion with his hands clasped over his head and screaming

GANGNES: This is the policeman who is depicted running from the Heat Ray in both of Cosmo Rowe’s illustrations (the Installment 1 header image and the Installment 2 frontispiece).

Annotation: To think of it brings back very vividly the whooping of my panting breath as I ran. All about me gathered the invisible terrors of the Martians, that pitiless sword of heat seemed whirling to and fro, flourishing overhead before it descended and smote me out of life.

GANGNES: Cut from the 1898 volume. This is another instance of deemphasizing the narrator’s emotional and physical responses to the Martians; the replacement sentence from the volume reads: “All about me gathered the invisible terrors of the Martians; that pitiless sword of heat seemed whirling to and fro, flourishing overhead before it descended and smote me out of life.” See text comparison page.

Annotation: my collar had burst away from its stud

From MCCONNELL 148: “Collars at the time were detached from the shirt, generally made of celluloid, and fastened around the neck with a stud.”

Annotation: ran a little boy

GANGNES: A macabre parallel to the “little boy” who was crushed in the previous scene.

Annotation: Maybury arch

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 231: “a railroad bridge about three-quarters of a mile northeast of Woking Station”

Annotation: Perhaps I am a man of exceptional moods. I do not know how far my experience is common. At times I suffer from the strangest sense of utter detachment from myself and the world about me; I seem to watch it all from the outside, from somewhere inconceivably remote, out of time, out of space, out of the stress and tragedy of it all. This feeling was very strong upon me that night. Here was another side to my dream.

GANGNES: This is one of a handful of sections that was not cut from the 1898 volume where the narrator explicitly evaluates his own mental and emotional state. The rumination here evokes associations with depression and the feelings of isolation it can cause. It is not clear whether Wells is speaking from experience in this instance. From a narrative perspective, asides like this may call the narrator’s reliability into question; he cannot function as an objective journalist figure (indeed, no journalist is “objective”) if he is emotionally compromised.

Annotation: It seemed impossible to make these people grasp a terror upon which my mind even could not retain its grip of realisation.

GANGNES: Cut from the 1898 volume. This is yet another instance where a comment about the narrator’s feelings has been removed. There are a few smaller edits in the next few paragraphs that have a similar effect. Some refer to the narrator’s wife’s emotional responses as well. See text comparison page.

Annotation: incredible

GANGNES: In this instance, unbelievable; the narrator is relieved that his wife believes his story about what happened to him because his neighbors did not.

Annotation: cope

From DANAHAY 64: a cloak or cape

Annotation: The Times

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 205: Britain’s most prestigious daily newspaper, est. 1788. By the time Wells was writing this novel its politics were mostly Liberal Unionist.

GANGNES: The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism lists the Times’ date of establishment as 1785 rather than 1788; this discrepancy is due to the fact that it was originally titled the Daily Universal Register before its name change in 1788. In its early days it contained parliamentary reports, foreign news, and advertisements, but soon expanded its contents. Under the editorship of Thomas Barnes in the early 1800s it became a “radical force in the context of the liberalizing reforms of the early part of the [nineteenth] century. It continued to exert a radical influence under subsequent editors (including John Thaddeus Delane). The paper included reports from influential foreign correspondents who covered major European conflicts that were of interest to Britain. When Thomas Cherney became its editor in 1878 and was succeeded in 1884, the paper began to become more conservative and pro-Empire. It has changed ownership but is still published today.


Annotation: Daily Telegraph

GANGNES: See annotation on Installment 1 regarding the Telegraph.

Annotation: argon

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 205: “a chemically inactive, odorless, colorless, gaseous element, no. 18 on the Periodic Table of the Elements. It had just been discovered and was in the news. Wells had written it up in ‘The Newly Discovered Element’ and ‘The Protean Gas,’ Saturday Review 79 (February 9 and May 4, 1895): 183-184, 576-577.”

GANGNES: The above articles from the Saturday Review are available in scanned facsimile here (“The Newly Discovered Element”) and here (“The Protean Gas”).

Annotation: shell

GANGNES: An artillery projectile. See Wikipedia entry on different kinds of shells.

Annotation: erethism

From MCCONNELL 151: “term describing an unusual state of irritability or stimulation in an organism”

Annotation: photographically distinct

GANGNES: See earlier note in this installment from STOVER on “much as the parabolic mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light.” As MCCONNELL (182) notes in Installment 4: “The first portable camera, the Kodak, had been patented by George Eastman in 1888. Wells himself was an ardent amateur photographer.”

Even before the portable camera and the beginnings of amateur photography, the prevalence of photojournalism would have made most readers familiar with, and likely interested in, photography. References to cameras and photography, especially in relation to the heat ray, are prevalent throughout the novel.

More information:

Annotation: tempering

From MCCONNELL 151: burning/roasting

Annotation: dodo in the Mauritius

From MCCONNELL 125 and 151: The dodo was a large, flightless bird from Mauritius that was hunted into extinction by the seventeenth century. This is the second of two comparisons between the extinction of the dodo and the potential extinction of humans by the Martians; the first is in Chapter I.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 205: “Later, the very idea of such a bird [as the dodo] was ridiculed … until skeletal remains came to light in 1863 and 1889.”

Annotation: dove-tailing of the commonplace habits of our social order with the first beginnings of the series of events that was to topple that social order headlong

From MCCONNELL 151: “This introduces another ‘Darwinian’ theme of the story: the transformation of an established, normal-seeming social order by extreme stress from the outside.”

Annotation: cyclists

From MCCONNELL 130 and 152: Cycling was extremely popular in the 1890s; the safety bicycle was first patented in 1884, but the patenting of the first pneumatic tire in 1888 made cycling comfortable and affordable. Wells was learning to ride the bicycle around the time that he wrote this novel.

Annotation: the sensation an ultimatum to Germany would have done

From DANAHAY 64: “Wells compares the opening of the ‘war’ with the Martians to the reaction that would have accompanied a declaration of war [by Britain] against another country like Germany.”

Annotation: canard

From DANAHAY 66: a joke or hoax

Annotation: receiving no reply–the man was killed–decided not to print a special edition

GANGNES: Because the newspapers didn’t hear from Henderson after he sent a telegram with the news about the capsule’s landing, the newspaper decided that it must have been a hoax, so it did not report a story on it. People have been murdered by the Martian heat-ray by this point, and hardly anyone who wasn’t at the pit knows about the incident.

Annotation: love-making

GANGNES: In this case, courting.

Annotation: A boy from the town, trenching on Smith’s monopoly, was selling papers with the afternoon’s news.

GANGNES: MCCONNELL is somewhat at odds with HUGHES AND GEDULD and STOVER here; H&G’s identification of “Smith” as referring to the newsagent W. H. Smith is important to the print culture of Victorian Britain. I include MCCONNELL to show that critical/annotated editions are not infallible.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 205: “Cutting into or ‘poaching on’ W. H. Smith’s monopoly of selling newspapers inside the station. The chain of W. H. Smith to this day has the exclusive rights to selling newspapers, magazines, and books in m any British railroad stations.”

From MCCONNELL 153: “‘Trenching’ means encroaching. The newsboy is selling his papers at a station where Mr. Smith has a permanent newsstand.”

From STOVER 91: “Reference to W.H. Smith, whose chain of stationery stores to this day has the exclusive rights to sell newspapers, books, and magazines in British railway stations.”

Annotation: villas

From DANAHAY 66: “the Victorian term for any large detached modern house”

Annotation: Inkerman barracks

From MCCONNELL 154: “The Inkerman Barracks were named for the Battle of Inkerman, where in 1854, English and french troops defeated an attacking Prussian Army. Throughout the late nineteenth century, the armies of Europe were in the process of massive and ominous expansion and reorganization. But the British had a long-standing aversion to the idea of a standing army. Their reorganization, beginning in 1870, emphasized the localization of garrisons and short enlistment terms for civilian volunteers. In 1881 the infantry of the line was remodeled into two-battalion regiments with territorial names.”

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 206: located ~2.5 miles southwest of the Horsell sand pits; ~2 miles west of Woking Station

Annotation: a squadron of Hussars, two Maxims, and about four hundred men of the Cardigan regiment

From MCCONNELL 154: “Hussars are light cavalry. The Maxim is the Maxim-Vickers, the first truly automatic machine gun, manufactured in the 1880s.” The Cardigan regiment is from Cardiganshire: a county in West Wales.

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 206: “The Maxim gun, patented in 1884 by Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, was an early form of machine gun. After some modification it was adopted by the British Army in 1889. In the field, Maxims were usually mounted on wheeled carriages. … The Cardigan regiment was named for Cardiganshire, a western county of Wales located between Fishguard and Aberystwyth.”

Annotation: Aldershot

GANGNES: town to the southwest of Woking

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 227: “Since 1855 an important garrison town in Hampshire, thirty miles southwest of London and about ten miles west of Woking, Surrey.

Annotation: saw a star fall from Heaven

GANGNES: A possible reference to, or evocation of, Lucifer as the “Morning Star” falling from Heaven. See Isaiah 14:12 and Luke 10:18. More information at the Wikpedia entry for Lucifer.

Annotation: north-west

GANGNES: As HUGHES AND GEDULD point out (see below), this is a mistake that was not corrected in any of the novel’s revisions. The error is somewhat jarring considering that Wells painstakingly situates the Martian invasion at extremely specific real locations. For more information on where this project situates the landing site, see the map page on The (De)collected War of the Worlds.

HUGHES AND GEDULD 206: “This is a slip. The second cylinder falls to the northeast … in or near the ‘Byfleet’ or ‘Addlestone’ Golf Links (really the New Zealand Golf Course, then the only course thereabouts and the one Wells must mean).”

Annotation: Soon after these pine woods and others about the Byfleet Golf Links were seen to be on fire.

GANGNES: In the 1898 volume, this sentence is replaced with simply, “This was the second cylinder.” The change of a chapter’s end in this way produces quite a different effect. The serialized sentence heightens the drama and serves as a very effective cliffhanger by evoking an image of destruction. The shorter, more straightforward chapter end sentence from the 1898 volume is freed from the pressure of contributing to a cliffhanger. It has a more objective, informative, journalistic tone while still promising action in the next chapter. See text comparison page.

Annotation: Byfleet Golf Links

From HUGHES AND GEDULD 228: “Located about three-quarters of a mile of central Woking. Now known as West Byfleet Golf Course.”