November 21st 2016

Today I learnt that Charles Dickens invented time travel.

Kind of.

A Christmas Carol (1843) was not the first works of a western writer to contain the notion of time travel, but it was the first noteworthy one. Any time travel novels pre-dating it were poorly circulated and eventually all completely lost or destroyed. As such, Dickens’ most notable novel can be considered an original conception of time travel.

Before then, the future – like the past – was never thought of. In the 19th century people just focused on the present. Nobody considered what life would have been, or was like, in the their grandfathers, or grandsons era. The past was not widely documented and the future was barely considered.

Ebenezeer Scrooge’s wandering through time was one of the first fictional instances of man experiencing multiple timelines. Him seeing what his past was like, and how his future could be was a revolutionary imagination.

And it came from the mind of a writer.

Ashamedly, I’ve not read the book. I’ve not read any Dickens, actually. But I was fascinated to learn that fact.

Without that book, the concept of time travel mayn’t have been thought up. It probably would’ve, but mightn’t.

And that’s madness to me.

H.G. Wells published more specific books on the act of time travel, Vonnegut discussed it, J. Fox mastered it. But Dickens was first.

Kind of.

Samuel Madden was 100 years earlier with a time travel themed novel, but try and find that name on a bookshelf in Waterstones. You can’t, I’m sure.

The populisation of the notion came from Dickens, not from CERN, or Einstein, or Newton, but from a writer. An imaginist. From a work of fiction.

Until tomorrow, I thought that was worth mentioning.



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