The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau

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by H. G. Wells

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Written in 1896, The Island of Dr. Moreau is one of the earliest scientific romances. An instant sensation, it was meant as a commentary on Darwin’s theory of evolution, which H. G. Wells stoutly believed. The story centers on the depraved Dr. Moreau, who conducts unspeakable animal experiments on a remote tropical island, with hideous, humanlike results.…  See more details below


Written in 1896, The Island of Dr. Moreau is one of the earliest scientific romances. An instant sensation, it was meant as a commentary on Darwin’s theory of evolution, which H. G. Wells stoutly believed. The story centers on the depraved Dr. Moreau, who conducts unspeakable animal experiments on a remote tropical island, with hideous, humanlike results. Edward Prendick, an English-man whose misfortunes bring him to the island, is witness to the Beast Folk’s strange civilization and their eventual terrifying regression. While gene-splicing and bioengineering are common practices today, readers are still astounded at Wells’s haunting vision and the ethical questions he raised a century before our time.

Editorial Reviews

John Clute
It is hard to think of a more qualified person to give us, at long last, a version of an H. G. Wells novel which could be trusted... Professor Philmus's edition is extraordinarily full.
David Seed
[T]his edition ... [leaves] the reader well placed to observe Wells's changing conception of his work and particularly to see how the novel grows out of the Gothic tradition. [I]t is important to stress what a wealth of materials is assembled in this volume.
Dale Kramer
This is a useful book for its placing the novel against its background of late-Victorian intellectual issues.
English Literature in Transition
Darren Harris-Fain
Philmus's variorum edition of The Island of Doctor Moreau is a shining example of the quality of work that can and should be done in the [science-fiction] field.
From the Publisher
The Island of Dr. Moreau takes us into an abyss of human nature. This book is a superb piece of storytelling.”
V. S. Pritchett

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Penguin Publishing Group
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Chapter 1
In The Dingey Of The "Lady Vain."

I DO not propose to add anything to what has already been written concerning the loss of the "Lady Vain." As everyone knows, she collided with a derelict when ten days out from Callao. The longboat, with seven of the crew, was picked up eighteen days after by H. M. gunboat "Myrtle," and the story of their terrible privations has become quite as well known as the far more horrible "Medusa" case. But I have to add to the published story of the "Lady Vain" another, possibly as horrible and far stranger. It has hitherto been supposed that the four men who were in the dingey perished, but this is incorrect. I have the best of evidence for this assertion: I was one of the four men.
But in the first place I must state that there never were four men in the dingey,--the number was three. Constans, who was "seen by the captain to jump into the gig," luckily for us and unluckily for himself did not reach us. He came down out of the tangle of ropes under the stays of the smashed bowsprit, some small rope caught his heel as he let go, and he hung for a moment head downward, and then fell and struck a block or spar floating in the water. We pulled towards him, but he never came up.
Daily News, March 17, 1887.
I say lucky for us he did not reach us, and I might almost say luckily for himself; for we had only a small breaker of water and some soddened ship's biscuits with us, so sudden had been the alarm, so unprepared the ship for any disaster. We thought the people on the launch would be better provisioned (though it seems they were not), and we tried to hail them. Theycould not have heard us, and the next morning when the drizzle cleared,-- which was not until past midday,--we could see nothing of them. We could not stand up to look about us, because of the pitching of the boat. The two other men who had escaped so far with me were a man named Helmar, a passenger like myself, and a seaman whose name I don't know,-- a short sturdy man, with a stammer.
We drifted famishing, and, after our water had come to an end, tormented by an intolerable thirst, for eight days altogether. After the second day the sea subsided slowly to a glassy calm. It is quite impossible for the ordinary reader to imagine those eight days. He has not, luckily for himself, anything in his memory to imagine with. After the first day we said little to one another, and lay in our places in the boat and stared at the horizon, or watched, with eyes that grew larger and more haggard every day, the misery and weakness gaining upon our companions. The sun became pitiless. The water ended on the fourth day, and we were already thinking strange things and saying them with our eyes; but it was, I think, the sixth before Helmar gave voice to the thing we had all been thinking. I remember our voices were dry and thin, so that we bent towards one another and spared our words. I stood out against it with all my might, was rather for scuttling the boat and perishing together among the sharks that followed us; but when Helmar said that if his proposal was accepted we should have drink, the sailor came round to him.
I would not draw lots however, and in the night the sailor whispered to Helmar again and again, and I sat in the bows with my clasp-knife in my hand, though I doubt if I had the stuff in me to fight; and in the morning I agreed to Helmar's proposal, and we handed halfpence to find the odd man. The lot fell upon the sailor; but he was the strongest of us and would not abide by it, and attacked Helmar with his hands. They grappled together and almost stood up. I crawled along the boat to them, intending to help Helmar by grasping the sailor's leg; but the sailor stumbled with the swaying of the boat, and the two fell upon the gunwale and rolled overboard together. They sank like stones. I remember laughing at that, and wondering why I laughed. The laugh caught me suddenly like a thing from without.
I lay across one of the thwarts for I know not how long, thinking that if I had the strength I would drink sea-water and madden myself to die quickly. And even as I lay there I saw, with no more interest than if it had been a picture, a sail come up towards me over the sky-line. My mind must have been wandering, and yet I remember all that happened, quite distinctly. I remember how my head swayed with the seas, and the horizon with the sail above it danced up and down; but I also remember as distinctly that I had a persuasion that I was dead, and that I thought what a jest it was that they should come too late by such a little to catch me in my body.
For an endless period, as it seemed to me, I lay with my head on the thwart watching the schooner (she was a little ship, schooner-rigged fore and aft) come up out of the sea. She kept tacking to and fro in a widening compass, for she was sailing dead into the wind. It never entered my head to attempt to attract attention, and I do not remember anything distinctly after the sight of her side until I found myself in a little cabin aft. There's a dim half-memory of being lifted up to the gangway, and of a big red countenance covered with freckles and surrounded with red hair staring at me over the bulwarks. I also had a disconnected impression of a dark face, with extraordinary eyes, close to mine; but that I thought was a nightmare, until I met it again. I fancy I recollect some stuff being poured in between my teeth; and that is all.

From the Paperback edition.

Copyright 2002 by H. G. Wells

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George Orwell
Wells was in the main a true prophet. In physical details his vision of the New World has been fulfilled to a surprising extent.

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The Island of Dr. Moreau (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
Janus More than 1 year ago
Undoubtedly, H.G. Wells was a man who was years ahead of his time. Like Huxley, he seems to have anticipated the issues surrounding genetic manipulation years before such a thing was even a topic. As a book, The Island of Dr. Moreau reads like a slightly less stuffy gothic horror novel. While the characters may seem slightly cookie cutter for the genre (especially the doctor and the narrator) they all have slight quirks that set them apart from the normal lot. Each chapter is only about seven pages long and the story reads quickly. I can see how a really neat movie could be made from this, but nobody has succeeded yet (the version with Brando and Kilmer...ouch). For someone looking for a good 'abandoned on an island' type story, this is a really good one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the Island of Dr. Moreau was an excellent book to read. It was very imaginative and interesting. I would recommend for anyone to read this H.G. Wells classic but only if you like sci-fi. Otherwise it is not the book for you.
Cathytaffy More than 1 year ago
This book was incredibly exciting the whole way through. It is a fairly short story, but packed with so much adventure. It seemed like there was never a dull moment and the writing was so vivid and thrilling! The whole idea/theme of the book is a bit on the scary side, but it is not too gorey or terrifying, so I still enjoyed it and didn't have nightmares. This was my first book of HG Wells and I cannot wait to read another one of his novels now. Just from reading this one book, he may prove to be one of my new favorite writers. What a clever/genius storyteller!
theokester More than 1 year ago
I knew the high level concept of this book from allusions in other stories and movies, but I'd never read the original novel. It was a bit different from what I expected. The writing style is very accessible and fluid while also being jam-packed with very vivid and detailed descriptions as well as some in-depth scientific and moralistic discussions. The first few pages were a little slow, but the rest of the book, except for a paragraph here and there, flew by and kept me very hooked. The story is presented as a written report from the point of view of a narrator who finds himself stranded on the island for a time after some disasters at sea. The narrator has some scientific background which lends to very analytical and in-depth commentary. Without adding any real spoilers, the summary is this: Doctor Moreau, after being chased out of London for his practices, is living on an island in the pacific conducting outrageous experiments. Our narrator, Pendrick, finds the island populated with creatures that are neither completely human nor completely bestial...they are aberrations....creatures partially human and partially beasts....the face of a man with almost snout-like nose and lips, pointed hairy ears, elongated torso and shorter than normal legs, etc., etc., etc. The horrors and grotesque nature of the experiments are explored in depth and naturally progress to some rather disturbing conclusions. I rather enjoyed the story and found myself immersed in the plot and the concepts. My only real complaint by the end of the book was that it all ended too quickly. I would have loved another 50 or 100 pages. Still, it is a tightly woven tale with a lot of meet in it to leave you thinking. Wells presents a thoughtful narrative addressing some of the social concerns of his day through this science-fiction story. At that point in history (late 1800s), this was all seen as fiction but based on the fears people had of experiments in the medical community. It's even more potent now, since some 30-50 years after the book, the Nazis engaged in similar "scientific" experimentation during the Holocaust (not with the same results, but with a similar type of horror upon society). I really liked the way the book finished up. In the last few pages, we find our narrator trying to sort through everything he's witnessed and come to terms with it. I really enjoyed the way Wells shows him trying to recognize "humanity" in people and distinguish between the "human" and the "animal." A great read.
yarnspinner More than 1 year ago
Absolutely brilliant, horrific, and disturbing. This is the second time I've read this novel and I would classify it as more of a horror story than science fiction. I say that because it explores what happens when you couple genius with madness. In terms of horror, I would say this novel is only second to "Lord of the flies" which probes at the possibility, Is man inherently evil? Overall a fantastic read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's wonderfully written, but quite ominous and scary. The disturbing nature of the story should not be taken lightly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was twisted and awesome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Apparently, when the book was first released, it was poorly received mostly because the events portrayed are unpleasant. Later, it became somewhat of a classic book because (a.) readers began to appreciate the "educational" message that Wells was offering, (b.) it is now recognized as one of the original and ground breaking pieces in science fiction, and (c.) most recently, with some of the potential creations based on recent biological breakthroughs with regard to creating life forms, it has become more relevant. Both the negative and the positive are correct.
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Was a little slow at the beginning but it picked up speed and was a very enthralling and thought provoking piece.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Classic must read. Perhaps his best work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing style led me comfortably along as I gathered clues as did the principal character. I was hoping for a more impactful resolution at the end. Even so, I am glad to have read it,
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gina4god More than 1 year ago
This is a classic and when I read it, could envision the story of how weird and creepy Dr Moreau was.
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