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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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4,4571221,100 (3.63)1 / 344
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

Work details

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

  1. 90
    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Both books share a similar blend of science fiction and horror.
  2. 31
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    Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (allenmichie)
  4. 20
    Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Mad doctor's breeding program on a remote island. What could go wrong?
  5. 10
    The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells (sturlington)
    sturlington: Mad scientists.
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    The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: Bioy Casares uses "The Island of Doctor Moreau" as a model for his own "The Invention of Morel", also set on a island, but a much stranger one...
  8. 11
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English (115)  Danish (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (121)
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
I really don't know why I keep thinking that Wells' stories aren't any good. Before much reading time had passed I was talking to the Spouse about how much more plausible and realistic the story was than I thought it was going to be. And also, his structure is good, how he brings the reader in, how information is revealed, how our narrator changes his opinion as he understands more. The story never went where I expected it to, either.

Who anticipates being surprised by a hundred year old story that's been adapted to film I don't know how many times? An interesting read, entertaining, but also, one that doesn't raise issues and try to pass off easy answers.

Personal copy. ( )
  Kaethe | Oct 16, 2016 |
In it's entirety, The Island of Dr. Moreau definitely kept my interest. But I don't think I would have rated it as highly as I have if it weren't for the last chapter (CH. 22: The Man Alone). I just fell for how aptly Wells was able to capture the results of Prendick's "adventure." Also, the very basis for the story, is infinitely intriguing. What really makes these 'beasts' monsters? The experiments, the pain, or the simple fact of the yoke of humanity being cast upon them? And, depending on your perspective, who is the real monster? The animalistic traits of the creations or the person trying so grotesquely to suppress/change them? As we see with Prendick, it's a bit more relative in a moment of human peril than most of us would tend to think. His monsters are formed by what's unknown to what seems the most dangerous at present. But the idea of monsters isn't extinguished in the escaping, they simply live on in new ways. ( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
Audiobook performed by Robin Lawson

This classic is set on a remote island somewhere in the South Pacific. The island is inhabited by Dr Moreau, a “mad” scientist bent on experimenting with the human / animal form, his assistant Montgomery, the stranded traveler Edward Prendick (who is our narrator), and a variety of strange creatures.

I remember a commercial in the 1960s or ‘70s with the tag line “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” I cannot think of a more succinct way to describe the basic theme of this book. And yet, it is so much more – a strong, philosophical and ethical argument both for and against vivisection and experimentation. A moral tale of one man’s descent as a result of his ego, and how he is able to draw others into his twisted way of thinking.

And yet, Wells clearly points out that Nature will have her way; that despite man’s meddling, Nature will win out. The journey on which Wells takes the reader to arrive at this conclusion is twisted, compelling, dark, and horrific. The tension is lessened by the story’s premise – a telling of what happened by the only survivor. Wells used a similar device in The Time Machine. Despite this, however, there is still considerable suspense.

I was struck by some of the descriptions of procedures – at least one of which I know is currently performed by plastic surgeons specializing in facial reconstruction. In fact, I read such an operative report just a week before picking up this book!

Robin Lawson does a fine job performing the audiobook. He has good pacing, and gives life to Edward Prendick’s telling of the story. ( )
  BookConcierge | Sep 2, 2016 |
As a novel about a Victorian scientist, of course I had to read this. Moreau is second only to Frankenstein in the mad scientist rankings of the nineteenth century, and second in the rankings of fictional scientists generally. (Because who remembers the sane ones?) Moreau is a "wantonly" cruel vivisectionist, exiled from the scientific community, so there's a different sort of flavor to him to Frankenstein: Frankenstein pursues knowledge into areas man was not meant to know, but his goals are amoral at worst. Moreau, on the other hand, is immoral. Suffering is not an incidental byproduct of his researches, but their goal. (This was a common critique of vivisectors in the Victorian period; I've seen it in Wilkie Collins's Heart and Science, Sarah Grand's The Beth Book, and Florence Fenwick Miller's Lynton Abbott's Children.)

Moreau's rationalizations of his own research are probably the most interesting part of this horrific book (early Wells was so good at evoking sensation), as he argues that his lack of sympathy for those in pain makes him superior: "So long as visible or audible pain turns you sick, so long as your own pains drive you, so long as pain underlies your propositions about sin, so long, I tell you, you are an animal, thinking a little less obscurely what an animal feels" (73). The human being, Moreau argues, is distinguished by his ability to choose not to feel, because when you are more intelligent, you can see after your own welfare without the need of the pain stimulus. Moreau argues that he is after knowledge only, that his only passions are intellectual: "You cannot imagine the strange colourless delight of these intellectual desires. The thing before you is no longer an animal, a fellow-creature, but a problem to be solved" (75). I'm interested in the vision of the scientist, but The Island is more about the feelings of the scientist, so there's not as much here for me as I might have imagined-- though the two do cross over occasionally, as in the preceding quote, where Moreau's lack of "sympathetic pain" means he sees animals differently than other humans.

In traditional Wells fashion, The Island also uses its set-up to do some doubling: like how in Frankenstein the creature's plight is also the plight of all humans, so too do some of the narrator's comments about the abandoned animal experiments resonate with the human condition: "they stumbled in the shackles of humanity, lived in a fear that never died, fretted by a law they could not understand; their mock-human existence began in an agony, was one long internal struggle, one long dread of Moreau -- and for what?" (95). Substitute "God" or any other source of law/morality for "Moreau," and I'm not so sure we're much better off. And I know Wells thought we weren't.
  Stevil2001 | Sep 2, 2016 |
I didn't enjoy this book.

But then, much like Lord of the Flies, I don't think it's a book you're supposed to enjoy.

Suffice to say, I'm prepared to acknowledge that this probably was not the best book to start with on my foray into Well's writing.

I thought it would be more appealing to me but it's more or less a white guy getting shipwrecked on an island plus the usual white scientist goes mad with power, island becomes a microcosm of the world, and so on, and so on.

And I have to admit that it's getting difficult for me to read books that are as cold, as clinical and as masculine as this one is. It doesn't feel like a novel it just feels like a really long allegory.

Of course this book is one of many written by Wells that has made a huge contribution to science fiction, but this book just isn't my thing. Doesn't mean I'm not willing to read other books by Wells, I just didn't like it. ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:43 -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)
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2 70
2.5 21
3 313
3.5 117
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4.5 25
5 171


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

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014144102X, 0141029153, 0141389397

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100534, 1400111145

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