Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau:
El anacronópete — The First Time Machine

Time travel appeared in fiction before H. G. Wells published the short story The Chronic Argonauts (1888) and the novel The Time Machine (1895), but the first story about a time machine — Gaspar’s novel El anacronópete — was published in Barcelona in 1887. Anacronópete is a Spanish neologism for “who flies against time”.

Reportedly, an English translation will finally be published by Wesleyan University Press in 2012 under the title The Time Ship: A Chrononautical Journey, translated by Yolanda Molina-Gavilan and Andrea L Bell.

Note also that Alfred Jarry’s essay “How to Construct a Time Machine,” an exercise in his mock-science of ’pataphysics, appeared in 1899. Jarry is not mentioned in the potted histories of time travel to be found in the links below.

For more on the early history of the time travel subgenre, see the companion web page Edward Page Mitchell (1852-1927), Science Fiction Pioneer: Time Travel, Hegel, and More.

There are numerous studies placing Wells’ work in social and intellectual context, and the place of the fourth dimension in 19th century mathematics and popular culture (especially in fiction and in spiritualism) is well-known. The concept of time travel has been treated by historians of science and of science fiction. Presumably there are studies on how and why the notion of time as the fourth dimension and the notion of a time machine appeared when they did. Whether there is resonance among El anacronópete and other landmark events of 1887 (such as the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes or Esperanto) remains to be determined.

The cultural epoch in which we live receives the mystifying label of postmodernism. Pastiche and combinatorialism are not limited to popular culture ensconced in the moment, for in the intellectual realm there is more intensive attention to the cultural past and its presuppositions than ever. The English translation of El anacronópete is all the more to be welcomed for its contribution to retrospective consciousness.


Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HG Wells Or Enrique Gaspar: Whose Time Machine Was First? by Kathryn Westcott, BBC News
BBC News, Wikipedia News, 11 April 2011

Out of this world - New exibition in the British Museum on Science Fiction

British Library: history of science fiction exhibit (Boing Boing, 16 May 2011)

Time travel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Time travel in fiction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of time travel science fiction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Four-dimensional space - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dimension - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Fiction of Time Travel (phantasy physics)

History of Time Adventure (Time Travel Portal)

Spirits, Art, and the Fourth Dimension by Bryan Clair

French Tales of Infinity by Prof. Mark Brake & Rev. Neil Hook

Deflating Hyperspace” by David Pacchioli

Selected Bibliography of Scholarship on H.G. Wells's The Time Machine by David Haden

Modernity's Metonyms: Figuring Time in Nineteenth-Century Spanish Stories by Geraldine Lawless


Cronopete is an Apple's Time Machine clone for Linux. It aims to mimic it as closely as possible.

The name comes from anacronopete ("who flies through time"), which is a time machine featured in the novel from Enrique Gaspar y Rimbaud, and published in 1887 (eight years before than H.G. Wells' Time Machine.

En Esperanto: Rilate al la Unua Tempomaŝino

Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau - Vikipedio

Tempomaŝino - Vikipedio

Tempovojaĝado - Vikipedio

Kvara dimensio - Vikipedio

Alfred Jarry @ Ĝirafo
(some posts in English)

Ars combinatoria, Ramón Llull, Leibniz: reminder / rememorigo
(also in English)

Links on this site

Edward Page Mitchell (1852-1927), Science Fiction Pioneer: Time Travel, Hegel, and More

Eugène Mouton: 19th Century Science Fiction Pioneer

«Le maître du temps» par Giuseppe Lipparini

The Man Who Was Solved by Dick Allen

George Cary Eggleston on Science Fiction & Jules Verne (1874)

Frank Blighton & the Fourth Dimension

Into the Fourth Dimension” by Frank Blighton (full text)

H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine: Selected Bibliography

Definition of ’Pataphysics by Alfred Jarry

Alfred Jarry’s “How to Construct a Time Machine”: A Web Guide 

Martin Gardner, Mathematical Games, & the Fourth Dimension (web guide & bibliography)

Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources: A Selective Work in Progress

Exotica, Curiosa, Crankery, Hoaxes, Cultural & Intellectual Arcana: Selected Web Guide & Bibliography

Additional Bibliography

Alkon, Paul K. Origins of Futuristic Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987.

Gaspar, Enrique. The Anacronópete; translated by Leyla Rouhi; edited with an introduction by Michael Cooperson. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

Kirschenbaum, Leo. Enrique Gaspar and the Social Drama in Spain. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1944.

Nahin, Paul J. Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction; foreword by Kip S. Thorne. 2nd ed. Woodbury, NY: AIP Press; New York: Springer, 1999.

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Uploaded 8 September 2011
Last update 14 December 2021

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