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The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)

by H. G. Wells

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,2751731,266 (3.64)2 / 486
Classic Literature. Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:

Another visionary novel from the great science fiction writer H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau tackles the thorny issues thrown up when humankind plays God and explores notions of society and identity, bringing the mythical chimera - part human, part animal - into the age of science.

.… (more)
  1. 120
    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Both books share a similar blend of science fiction and horror.
  2. 40
    The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells (sturlington)
    sturlington: Mad scientists.
  3. 20
    Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (allenmichie)
  4. 20
    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...
  5. 31
    Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov (Michael.Rimmer)
  6. 20
    Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Mad doctor's breeding program on a remote island. What could go wrong?
  7. 10
    Next by Michael Crichton (mcenroeucsb)
  8. 00
    Under the Skin by Michel Faber (HighlandLad)
  9. 00
    Mort(e) by Robert Repino (themulhern)
  10. 00
    The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Cecrow)
  11. 00
    The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (Cecrow)
  12. 12
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (mcenroeucsb)
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» See also 486 mentions

English (164)  Spanish (3)  Danish (2)  German (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (172)
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
In a period of just a few years, a young writer named H. G. Wells produced four seismic shocks to speculative fiction which reverberate to this day: The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds. Having now read all four of these, I can say that I found only The Island of Doctor Moreau to induce genuine disappointment. While deserving respect for its creativity and its influence, I was underwhelmed by its mystery and the lack of depth in its concept.

In seeking to mitigate this criticism, I initially sought to draw comparisons to Wells' other novels from that burst of late-Victorian creativity. I found Moreau quite staid, but I also thought the same of The War of the Worlds. But the difference, I then told myself, was that The War of the Worlds realised its concept more vividly and with far greater depth. Moreau doesn't really do much to explore the implications of its beast-men, even though the Darwinian fruit is just there waiting to be plucked.

So I said to myself: The Invisible Man didn't mine its concept fully either. That's true, but it did better than Moreau, and furthermore The Invisible Man benefitted from a comic element as its titular character causes havoc in a small English town. The Island of Doctor Moreau has no such thing, and comes across as rather plain even though it is set on a tropical island. Our protagonist does not have much of an adventure, even though all the elements are there: a shipwreck, a mad scientist, a savage tribe of beast-men.

I then found myself measuring Moreau against The Time Machine, and it was found wanting here. The Time Machine was well-realised in both concept and storytelling, and as I made all of these comparisons to Wells' other great titles, I kept reaching a simple conclusion I had been hoping to avoid: namely, that The Island of Doctor Moreau is simply the least of Wells' four most influential novels. As a story, it didn't grab me; its protagonist is non-descript, an Ishmael without a fascinating Ahab to complement him, for Doctor Moreau himself should be far more compelling than he is in this book. The beast-men themselves don't convince, their development shallow as they speak English and live in a rudimentary human-like society, and nor does the Doctor's 'scientific' method of creating them.

And while The Island of Doctor Moreau has a delicious, malevolent undercurrent, a horror element that in many ways is more prominent than the speculative or science-fiction strains, this felt like something else that wasn't fully-realised. "Every shadow became something more than a shadow… Invisible things seemed watching me," our protagonist narrates on page 53, and while we feel this discomfort I wish there more to show for it in the results. As it is, Wells made a sizeable footprint in The Island of Doctor Moreau, but of his four giant strides in that three-year period, this is the one more to be respected than adored. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Mar 28, 2024 |
Such a gripping book with a bit of a disheartening ending. I fear watching the movie would ruin this novel for me ( )
  highlandcow | Mar 13, 2024 |
2/5

Well, this was an interesting, classical read. The world that H.G. Wells creates is fascinating and terrifying to imagine. The characters he creates, both man and beast, are amazing and fun to read.

HOWEVER… his writing style is infuriating. I fully acknowledge this is a period piece, but how many times can one use the word “forthwith” before you recognize your absurdity? Really felt like he had a thesaurus near him and just was replacing words for more complex ones at times.

Overall, solid book. I get why this has lasted. But I really hope I can find an author that “re-imagines” this to something a little more bearable to read. ( )
  fedjbomb | Feb 27, 2024 |
Considering the time when book was written it is amazing how contemporary story is. Our narrator, Mr. Pendrick, is saved after his boat is sunk. His saviors though are a very scary lot, captain and crew transporting animals and mysterious passengers to a remote island in Pacific. When they reach the island, captain decides to kick out all of his passengers and cargo saying that he does not want to have anything more to do with the island.

Because of this Pendrick becomes guest of mysterious Dr. Moreau with condition that he keeps away from some buildings on the island.

Very soon Pendrick will become aware of very strange experiments executed by Dr. Moreau and his (not-so-willing) assistant Montgomery.

While being for all means and purposes a straight-forward adventure horror tale several very interesting questions are raised that are actual even today.

Should science do things and (in general) unethical research because it can (not necessary because it is required)? Should scientists play the role of God and try creating sentient life? What exactly is sentient life and is it ethical to force sentience on living beings that are not sentient in a way that we define it? What is responsibility of the researchers to their creations? Are they living beings that need help for reintegration back into the world or just failed experiments that need to be discarded?

As I said all very contemporary questions, especially considering the advent of genetic manipulations and medical technology in last couple of decades.

Unfortunately almost hundred and twenty years after first publishing we still do not have clear answers to them.

Very interesting novel, highly recommended to all thriller fans. ( )
  Zare | Jan 23, 2024 |
***Some spoilers***

Just had to read this book. It was a quick read, though the language was a bit hard for me to wade through. But such was the language of the old classics. An interesting concept. The narrator is saved by Montgomery, who is Dr. Moreau's assistant. Through no fault of his own, the narrator is left on the island of Dr. Moreau, Montgomery, and some very odd looking "Human beings." But, they are not human. Dr. Moreau is trying to take animals and turn them into human beings. To walk, talk and think like human beings. That is ultimately his demise, to be killed by his lifes work. His assistant, Montgomery, also an outcast from the world, meets almost the same demise, even though he is closer to the beast creatures. The main character of the book, though, manages to get away. ( )
  LinBee83 | Aug 23, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (139 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wells, H. G.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldiss, Brian WilsonAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Atwood, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bader, MorganNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Behrens, TimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boltt, NathalieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Michele, RossanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dea, Bob DeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Douglas, BruceNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Escobar, AmyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, MasonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Isaacs, JasonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keeble, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kelly, BrianNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kent, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kindt, AnnemarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawson, RobinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGinn, AndrewNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLean, StevenNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Minnerly, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parrinder, PatrickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Posner, MatthewNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sondericker, JackNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Theis, KevinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagland, GregNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilder, Jane AnneNarratorsecondary 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."
Quotations
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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Classic Literature. Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:

Another visionary novel from the great science fiction writer H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau tackles the thorny issues thrown up when humankind plays God and explores notions of society and identity, bringing the mythical chimera - part human, part animal - into the age of science.

.

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Haiku summary
Doctor Moreau
made animals human
but this goes wrong

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