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The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells

The Island Of Doctor Moreau (original 1896; edition 2010)

by H.G. Wells

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3,684None1,424 (3.63)1 / 276
Title:The Island Of Doctor Moreau
Authors:H.G. Wells
Info:Gollancz (2010), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:genre: science fiction, acquired in 2011, @amazon.co.uk, S.F. Masterworks, read in 2012

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The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells (1896)

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Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
Despite an intriguing concept and an interesting final quarter, The Island of Dr. Moreau fails to really engage the reader. The first three quarters of the book are filled with rambling info-dumps, detailed plot lines, and character introductions that aren’t really necessary to the story. The narrator, Prendick, spends a long time building up to the reveal of what’s happening on the island. If he were dropping clues and piecing together the puzzle himself, the reader would be right there along with him. But instead, he simply narrates odd things that happen around him without seeming to be able to come to any conclusions. It’s up to Dr. Moreau himself to explain everything in a lengthy monologue, and only after Prendick has seen it first-hand.

Even listening to this monologue, Prendick asks the wrong questions. He seems to be so caught up in the impropriety of the island that he can’t bring himself to think deeper about any of it. Moreau makes a point of saying that he doesn’t use any humans in his experiments, but how is that possible? How do you combine a bat and a dog and come up with something that walks on two legs and can speak English? And if the Hyena-Swine is a cross between those two animals, then what, exactly, are the Leopard-Man and Ape-Man created from? Since Prendick never asks about it or suspects Moreau was lying, it seems like a rather large plot hole.

The world view that underlies Prendick’s narration hurts the book as well. He clearly has an ideal of a white, heterosexual, educated Englishman as the pinnacle of civilized life. There are many subtle examples of this bias throughout the narrative, but the most egregious (to me) was his comment that the female Beast Folk seemed to be more aware of their grotesqueness and to feel shame about it, dressing themselves up more with pretty fabrics. Retch.

If you can make it through the problems in the first three quarters of the book, though, you’ll be rewarded with the ending. After a pretty dramatic action scene (relatively), the tenor of the island changes. Prendick’s priggishness, snobbery, and self-righteousness finally start to affect his safety, and he’s forced to either change his behavior or face a dangerous, lonely life. He mostly chooses the latter. These final 4 months on the island are skimmed over for the most part, but it is only then that Prendick actually begins to change a bit. The most introspective Prendick ever gets is when he returns to England and finds himself utterly traumatized by the events of the island. After being so caught up in propriety and civilized behavior for so long, Prendick finds he can’t quite blend back into society.

Maybe Wells chose Prendick as his narrator specifically to show how ridiculous his attitude is and how ill-equipped it leaves him to deal with anything more difficult than a London train delay. If so, I think this would have come through more clearly if the story were told in third-person rather than Prendick’s rather shallow first-person narration. But the fact that the unnamed narrator of War of the Worlds had some of these same hang-ups gives me pause. At any rate, it makes both narrators difficult to sympathize with. ( )
  JLSmither | Apr 6, 2014 |
I don't know if H.G. Wells was an atheist or not, but if this was the only writing he had left behind, I would have thought he was.

Slow start, but the last 25% of the book more than makes up for it. A fabulous parody of the Christian creation myth and the myth of Jesus.

1 vote steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Spooky! ( )
  jmcalli | Feb 6, 2014 |
I was extremely surprised at how much I liked this book. Other reviews say it better than I do, so I'll just throw in my recommendation. ( )
  ScribbleKey | Jan 10, 2014 |
This story does not need me to review it, so I'll put some of my thoughts and impressions here instead. It is about a scientist who has no qualms about inflicting horrific pain on animals and for some mystifying reason thinks they would be better in the shape of humans. I believe the pointlessness of it all was what I didn't get, but then, I suppose that shows the madness of the doctor. Another thing which annoyed me, was that the storyteller seemed to be upset about it all for weird reasons. He kept going on about the abomination of the creatures because they weren't human. The abomination was that they were not allowed to be the beautiful creatures they were created to be. Even supposing it to be all medically possible, WHY would anyone want to do that? Animals are created perfectly for their function, and their function is necessary, so the abomination lies in not allowing them to be what they are, not in the fact that they could not be what the doctor was trying to twist them into. Also, his terror when they began reverting to animals again was off. I would have been happy to have them all be animals again, without the torment of mind and body. Much simpler to live with, I would think. ( )
  MrsLee | Dec 27, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wells, H. G.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldiss, Brian WilsonAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Atwood, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Michele, RossanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kent, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kindt, AnnemarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLean, StevenNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parrinder, PatrickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"I do not propose to add anything to what has already been written concerning the loss of the Lady Vain."
Das Schreien klang draußen noch lauter. Es war, als hätte aller Schmerz der Welt eine Stimme gefunden. Und doch - hätte ich gewußt, daß im Nebenzimmer solcher Schmerz zugefügt wurde, und wäre er stumm ertragen worden, ich glaube - so habe ich mir seither gedacht -, ich hätte es ganz gut aushalten können. Erst, wenn das Leiden Ausdruck findet und unsere Nerven erbeben macht, quält uns das Mitleid.
[Kapitel 8, letzter Absatz - S. 41 in der Ausgabe Das Neue Berlin 1988]
All diese Geschöpfe trugen trotz ihrer menschlichen Form und trotz der Andeutung von Kleidung in sich, in ihre Bewegungen, in den Ausdruck ihrer Gesichter, in ihr ganzes Wesen hinein verwoben, das unverkennbare Zeichen eines Tiers ...
[Kapitel 9, 15. Absatz - S. 45 in der Ausgabe Das Neue Berlin 1988]
Aber, wie gesagt, ich war zu aufgeregt und - das ist wahr, wenn auch jemand, der die Gefahr nie gekannt hat, vielleicht nicht daran glaubt - zu verzweifelt, um zu sterben.
[Kapitel 13, 1. Absatz - S. 68 in der Ausgabe Das Neue Berlin 1988]
"Bis auf diesen Tag hab' ich mich um die Ethik der Angelegenheit noch nie bekümmert. Das Studium der Natur macht den Menschen schließlich so gewissenlos, wie die Natur selbst ist."
[Zitat Dr. Moreau in Kapitel 14, 28. Absatz - S. 79 in der Ausgabe Das Neue Berlin 1988]
Vorher waren sie Tiere gewesen; ihre Instinkte waren ihrer Umgebung angepaßt, und sie selbst so glücklich, wie lebendige Wesen nur sein können. Jetzt stolperten sie in den Fesseln der Menschlichkeit dahin, lebten in einer Angst, die niemals starb, von einem Gesetz gequält, das sie nicht verstanden; ihre halbmenschliche Existenz begann in Qualen, war ein einziger langer, innerer Kampf, eine einzige lange Furcht vor Moreau - und wozu? Die Nutzlosigkeit regte mich auf.
[Kapitel 17, drittletzter Absatz - S. 102 in der Ausgabe Das Neue Berlin 1988]
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Haiku summary
Doctor Moreau
made animals human
but this goes wrong

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553214322, Mass Market Paperback)

A shipwreck in the South Seas, a palm-tree paradise where a mad doctor conducts vile experiments, animals that become human and then "beastly" in ways they never were before--it's the stuff of high adventure. It's also a parable about Darwinian theory, a social satire in the vein of Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels), and a bloody tale of horror. Or, as H. G. Wells himself wrote about this story, "The Island of Dr. Moreau is an exercise in youthful blasphemy. Now and then, though I rarely admit it, the universe projects itself towards me in a hideous grimace. It grimaced that time, and I did my best to express my vision of the aimless torture in creation." This colorful tale by the author of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds lit a firestorm of controversy at the time of its publication in 1896.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:35 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Following a shipwreck, a young naturalist finds himself on an island run by a mad scientist intent on creating a strain of beast men

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.63)
1 16
1.5 2
2 47
2.5 20
3 238
3.5 102
4 296
4.5 23
5 129


Nine editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014144102X, 0141029153, 0141389397

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