Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Island of Dr. Moreau


I read this one about a day or two before finding the R.I.P. II Challenge. (I was aware it was coming. I just wasn't counting on it starting early. Which worked in my favor, since I had a handful of books checked out already that worked for it.) The Island of Dr. Moreau is a novel by H.G. Wells. This is my second Wells' novel, I loved The Time Machine last spring/early summer, and I couldn't wait to read more. I didn't quite know what to expect from this one, but it didn't disappoint. I can't say I loved it *as much* as The Time Machine. But it was a good book. What struck me when I was reading it is how similar the themes are between books. Frankenstein was all about an obsessed man creating life out of pieced together dead bodies. Putting that spark of life back into dead flesh. It was all about playing God. The Island of Dr. Moreau was similar. It was about a man (or a pair of men) playing God. This time they weren't animating dead flesh. They were mutilating, torturing animals. The idea was the same--to create something in their own image. The scary part about Dr. Moreau is he thought that by making animals 'more human' he was making them better. He thought that he could do a better job than God. He wanted to be their god. And indeed he was. He was feared and esteemed by his creation. Frankenstein was all about human nature. The Island of Dr. Moreau was about human nature as well. It just added in animal nature as well. But both books show that man is capable of having monstrous ideas and carrying out horrific things. Both books show that too much ambition can be a very, very bad thing. Both books show that all actions have consequences as well!

What I didn't know until Wikipedia was that there were actually scientists at the time Wells was writing that were vivisecting animals. Two years after the novel was published, the British formed The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

To read it online.

8 comments:

Ana S. said...

I've been wanting to read one of H. G. Wells novels for a long time. I'm very fond of his short stories. The part about torturing animals sounds really disturbing, but the book does sound worth reading despite it. Thanks for the review!

Carl V. Anderson said...

The wikipedia stuff is fascinating...interesting how life and art intersect in real and sometimes disturbing ways.

I haven't read Moreau, at least not Well's novel. I have read several stories that are based on the idea, or use the characters, etc. but I have yet to read this. Someday....

Unknown said...

This was an excellent book yet very unsettling. I read it a few years ago and mean to re-read it at some stage. Well written and very gruesome.

Marina said...

Thak you for reminding me about this book... I'll be putting this on my Canon bookgroup reading list for next year.

It's uncanny how Wells "predicted" several technological advancements years before they were discovered and/or made public.

Bookfool said...

Thanks for throwing in that little tidbit from Wikipedia. What an interesting and horrifying concept. I can't say I loved The Time Machine, but that may be because I adored the newer film version and read the book *after* I saw the movie. They were so different that it kind of threw me.

Anonymous said...

I got a lot of books by Wells. Inherited from my grand father. Read Time machine a long time back. Maybe I should go through all the books.

Anonymous said...

This sounds good.I think Im gonna go check it out! thanks!

Book Beetle said...

I've just read this for my English degree and it brought up some interesting discussion. I really enjoyed it although I found the pain of the puma hard to read and felt very sympathetic to the savages. What struck me in this novel is the absence of female. Moreau is trying to perfect the human race and if he was to do so there would be no need for females. However the land is very fertile and there is often womb like imagery. The fact that Moreau fails at creating the perfect race in his masculine lab is a positive for women. Any ideas on Well's position on feminism?
Wells is a good writer, really paints the scenes for you. Some times more than I'd like!