The Island of Doctor Moreau

The Island of Doctor Moreau


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The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells

This is a unique edition of Moreau. The text of the first (American) printed version (1896), with appended footnotes recording all variants up to 1924 and annotations of whatever strictly needs such, takes up little more than a third of its pages. Seven appendices provide the only available transcription of Wells’s first draft, details of the emendations that he made before 1900 and reportedly intended to incorporate in a future edition of the book, accounts of six film versions and one stage adaptation of Moreau, critical synopses of Moreau's literary "children," etc. Preceding all this are almost 50pp. on Wells's life and thoughts, with particular reference to Moreau.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375760969
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/2002
Series: The Modern Library Classics Series
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 144,333
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.53(d)

About the Author

H.G. Wells was a writer of science-fiction works-including The Time Machine and War of the Worlds-who had a great influence on our vision of the future.
Born in England in 1866, H.G. Wells's parents were shopkeepers in Kent, England. His first novel, The Time Machine was an instant success and Wells produced a series of science fiction novels which pioneered our ideas of the future. His later work focused on satire and social criticism. Wells laid out his socialist views of human history in his Outline of History. He died in 1946.

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1866

Date of Death:

August 13, 1946

Place of Birth:

Bromley, Kent, England

Place of Death:

London, England


Normal School of Science, London, England

Read an Excerpt

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. They could 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.

Table of Contents

1In the Dinghy of the Lady Vain1
2The Man who was going Nowhere5
3The Strange Face9
4At the Schooner's Rail17
5The Landing on the Island21
6The Evil-looking Boatmen27
7The Locked Door33
8The Crying of the Puma39
9The Thing in the Forest43
10The Crying of the Man55
11The Hunting of the Man61
12The Sayers of the Law69
13A Parley79
14Doctor Moreau Explains85
15Concerning the Beast Folk99
16How the Beast Folk tasted Blood107
17A Catastrophe123
18The Finding of Moreau129
19Montgomery's "Bank Holiday"135
20Alone with the Beast Folk145
21The Reversion of the Beast Folk153
22The Man Alone167

What People are Saying About This

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.

Reading Group Guide

1. At the time The Island of Dr. Moreau was published, Wells had gained success with The Time Machine. However, critics felt the plot of Dr. Moreau was just as unbelievable as that of The Time Machine. While time travel is, and always was, pure science fiction, the late 1800s did see many medical breakthroughs. Why would it be so hard for Wells’s audience to believe in biological engineering?

2. In the Foreword, Peter Straub speaks of the text being “at war with itself,” with the result that the narrative is tense and multi-layered. Do you agree with this assessment?

3. Notice the many stylesof language throughout the novel: Prendick’s continual misreading of sounds and explanations, the Beast Folk’s slurring speech, Moreau’s bumbling excuse for his experiments, and so on. How does Wells use these variations in language? Is his use of variations a comment on society or merely a literary device to further the plot?

4. Consider the strange litany the Beast Folk recite in chapter 12. What is Wells saying about religion? Is this strange religion positive or negative, and if positive, whom does it benefit -- the creatures or their master?

5. Look at the three men in the novel. Compare Prendick’s mannerisms with those of Montgomery and Moreau throughout the book. What do each man's mannerisms say about him? Do the mannerisms help or hinder each man throughout the action?

6. Wells was an educated man and studied under the famous scientist T. H. Huxley. Both men fully supported Darwin’s theory of evolution. Why, then, did Wells write a novel that seems to view science, and scientific experimentation, as a threat to society?

Customer Reviews

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The Island of Doctor Moreau 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pity the poor science fiction writer. She or he builds on the scientific knowledge of the day to extrapolate into the future . . . only to be undermined by shifts in scientific understanding. As a result, the careful development of science fiction becomes irrelevant in light of more advanced knowledge. Those writers who do this best, like H.G. Wells, are able to capture some more important theme that remains compelling . . . and the modern reader doesn¿t mind all of the incorrect science in the book. The Island of Dr. Moreau is a very thoughtful consideration of what a human is . . . and isn¿t. This question is considered at the level of physiology, emotions, thinking, psychology, and behavior. If that were not enough, H.G. Wells was among the first to raise the important question of what the limits should be of animal experimentation. As I read this novel, I was reminded of Dr. Jane Goodall¿s writing about the conditions of chimpanzees in some scientific laboratories. At its most ethereal level, H.G. Wells also focuses our attention on what the foundations of human happiness are. The inhumanity that recurs in the book may seem hard to take. Be patient. What may upset you in the beginning turns out to have importance in developing the book¿s major ideas and plot. Those who are upset by reading about violence or cruelty should probably think twice before reading this book. I found myself musing about why English authors in the 19th century were so fond of putting their stories onto uncharted or unfrequented South Sea islands. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had no problem putting on a full scheme of horrors into London for Sherlock Holmes to deal with. Why were others reluctant to do the same? Donald Mitchell, co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution and The Irresistible Growth Enterprise
john257hopper on LibraryThing 6 days ago
A horrific story that must have terrified many readers in 1896; even now it is unsettling in parts. It shows how the author was ahead of his time in his presentation of scientific and moral issues. A good read.
Ambrosia4 on LibraryThing 6 days ago
A little too grizzly for my tastes...the narrator of the story does nothing to garner my sympathies and all in all it was not a book that made me want to keep turning the pages...
othersam on LibraryThing 7 days ago
That Wells was a visionary, and one of the most far-sighted and innovative writers of imaginative literature the human race has ever produced¿ well, everyone says that, and it¿s a bit of a cliche. What¿s worth knowing about his stuff (and a lot of critics seem to underplay this) is that lots of his books are just REALLY GOOD FUN - and folks, this is a fine example. For a novel written more than a hundred and ten years ago it goes at a cracking pace: by just five pages in, the characters are stranded at sea, starving and drawing lots over who¿s going to be cannibalized -- and, amazingly, the book never really lets up from there. It¿s like a fever hallucination full of vivisection and mutants and horror, filtered through a contagious atmosphere of shimmering jungle heat. The ideas are great, sure, but the real triumph, it seems to me, is in how sure-footedly punchy and unpretentious the writing is: it¿s wild and mad and deliriously evocative, but in its understated way it¿s also real, it¿s fierce, and it¿s all over-and-out in just a hair under two hundred pages, without ever having lost its initial intensity. This was the second time I¿ve read the book now and - like malaria - I fully expect to face bouts of reading it again and again every so often for the rest of my life. All I can say is, lucky me. And if you haven¿t read The Island of Doctor Moreau yet, lucky /you/.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The last paragraph is my life
catburglar More than 1 year ago
An entertaining novel; a classic; difficult to rate, as it was written in a very different age from today, yet written by one of the earliest writers of science fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
liquidgee More than 1 year ago
A bit disappointed with this particular publication of the book only because the description is very deceiving in that it mentions appended footnotes, annotations, and seven appendecies none of which appear in this volume.  I'm a collector of books who enjoys when a publisher makes an effort of providing a volume with footnotes, annotations and an appendix or two explaining the text and background of the writing providing insights that might otherwise be missed.  Having purchased this particular edition for this, based on the description, it was, to say the least, a bit of a let down to discover none of this was part and parcel of the work.  All this aside, the book is nicely printed, the fonts and layout are visually very pleasing to the eye making this a nicely produced piece of literature.  
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Guest More than 1 year ago
It consists of lots of naturalist and religionist hodge-podge and relates the fear of such terrible things as vivisection and grafting which at the turn of the century (when Wells was writing) were viewed as unacceptable, but are now better tolerated and uncommon, respectively. (A healthy nodding session for technophobians everywhere.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Favorite book in da world!!!!!!!!! Creepy to (at first)