On its publication in 1924 The Dream was well received, selling 15,000 copies within a month, and one reviewer hailed it as ‘the richest and most generous thing that Mr. Wells has given us for years and years and years’. Despite this initial reaction the novel is today almost unknown and, along with Joan and Peter and other later works, seems destined to fade into total oblivion. This is in many ways regrettable, for The Dream is an extremely interesting experiment in literary form and marks a return to the accomplished narrative style of Tono-Bungay and The New Machiavelli. It is cast in the form of the autobiography of a typical twentieth-century man viewed from the standpoint of two thousand years hence. Sarnac, a citizen of the future, experiences a vivid dream in which he imagines himself to be Harry Mortimer Smith and, on waking, relates the dream to his companions. The substance of the novel is the story told by Sarnac, which describes the life, adventures and death of Harry Mortimer Smith spanning the years 1895–1920.
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