Literary Precedents for Childhood's End

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Any understanding of Clarke must acknowledge the influence of Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men (1931): "With its multi-million-year vistas, and its roll call of great but doomed civilizations, the book produced an overwhelming impact upon me." Stapledon's Star Maker (1938) and Odd John were also formative, especially the latter in its story of a paranormal child. But Clarke should also be read in the light of H. G. Wells's The Time Machine (1895; see separate entry), The War of the Worlds (1898; see separate entry), and "The Star." From Stapledon he learned a blend of lament and exultation confronting cosmic tragedy, and from Wells a respect for the detailed limits and opportunities science offers, met with irony and humor. He is more content to suggest Stapledon's scope than to describe it, and certain effects in Tales from the White Hart (1957) are reminiscent of Wells's cautionary tales. J. D. Bernal's The World...

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This section contains 251 words
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