The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553214321
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/1994
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 275,121
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.86(h) x 0.34(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

A pioneer of science fiction, H. G. Wells (1866-1946) wrote thrilling adventures about time travel, space exploration, alien invasion, and scientific experiments gone awry. His tales of obsession, revelation, and discovery remain compellingly readable and relevant.

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1866

Date of Death:

August 13, 1946

Place of Birth:

Bromley, Kent, England

Place of Death:

London, England

Education:

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 scientificexperimentation, as a threat to society?

Customer Reviews

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The Island of Dr. Moreau (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 84 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very nice effort by H.G. Wells. This is a quick read that would be ideal for boys ages 13 and up. The tale is about Dr. Moreau, a scientist, who has been forced out of England for his strange experiments. His experiments consist of taking animals and through surgical processes giving them human like intelligence and form. However, his creations are imperfect and it is these imperfections that help cause his downfall. Fast paced and full of action. Also, on a deeper level it makes you think if there are places science should not travel. Moreau played God. Are we doing the same today with cloning, for example? These connections make the book very current.
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
Winnipeg More than 1 year ago
A very interesting take on genetic engineering. A pretty good read overall. I reccomend this short book to all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The novel that I read was The Island of Dr. Moreau and let me tell you that if you read this book, wear a seatbelt because your going to be on the edge of your seat! This juicy novel is an excellent story of adventure, treachery and action-filled exciting thrills. My favorite thing in the book was how well they explained what was going on, and I like books like that. I would say that The Island of Dr. Moreau is one of the best books I've ever read. That's why I recommend you read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a must read book. If you are into sci-fi and like books that keep you on the edge, read the Island of Dr. Moreau. You won't want to put this down until you finish.
shanklinmike on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Once again Wells shows his ability to predict things to come. The prose is very good and, although the actual experiments are (at the moment) impossible, the scenario with Moreau as the mad but gifted scientist and Pendrick as the vehicle for the emotions generated gives a great feel to this book. Well worth a read but be prepared to be disturbed!
artikaur on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is a creepy tale of what goes wrong when two."scientists" take their experiments too far- they attempt to create human-like beasts by vibisection. The storyline was interesting, if a bit disturbing and gross at times. The book, in my opinion, contains some racist matter, which is not unusual for books of its time. If one is able to look past that, one can see that the plot is interesting and different. This book causes onr to wonder what makes someone humwn. Is it just the ability to talk, walk upright, follow.laws,etc, or is there something more to it than that?
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
H.G. Wells ¿scientific romances¿ have remained popular for over 100 years for a very good reason. They are exciting adventures that also give the reader something to think about and The Island of Dr. Moreau is one of the better ones. In some ways it reads like a horror version of Robinson Crusoe with a touch of Gulliver¿s Travels thrown in for good measure. In other ways it reveals the effects of the hubris of a scientist who goes beyond even Dr. Frankenstein in his quest to become a god creating his own life forms. This is a ripping good tale in a small volume that provides plenty of suspense and horror in addition to some moral issues to think about. Highly recommended
jwhenderson on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Over the period of a decade beginning with The Time Machine in 1895, H. G. Wells created some of his most popular fictions in the form of scientific romance novels. These books have captured the imagination of readers ever since and are arguably as popular today as they were more than one hundred years ago. Among these perhaps the strangest and best is The Island of Dr. Moreau. Undoubtedly influenced by Robinson Crusoe, but also by Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island which was published only thirteen years earlier, this book goes far beyond those deserted island tales and looks forward to the twenty-first century and beyond. In its day it was considered blasphemous, but in the age of cloning its depiction of vivisection takes on new meaning while the blasphemy recedes into the background. Above all this is a good story with suspense that holds even after the first breathless reading that it usually inspires. The story is of such a suspenseful nature that I am reluctant to share any plot details for fear of spoiling the experience for the reader.As with all great books the levels of meaning and reference in this book are many and the structure, a lost narrative found only after the author's death (reminiscent of Poe among others) is a nod to the era of the unreliable narrator for before his death Edward Pendrick, the narrator, claims to have no memory of the events which it described. Peter Straub, in his "Foreword" to the Modern Library edition, commented:Given its infusion of the adventure tale with deep, pervasive doubt, Dr. Moreau can be seen as a unique and compelling alliance of Treasure Island and Joseph Conrad. (p. xvi)I certainly agree with this assessment and believe that Wells, who was a good friend of Conrad as well as Henry James, Stephen Crane and Ford Madox Ford, might also agree with it. Like the best of Conrad reading this book was an exhilarating experience due both to its narrative and its deep meaning.
Moriquen on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book was more or less as I expected it to be. It was gripping and I can see how it would have stirred some emotions in its day. But I'm also (just like amcamp mentioned) not able to think that this might ever happen. Not that humankind could not be so savage, I believe that there are those who might be as savage as Moreau and Montgomery. The science of the book just felt really wrong. (And I am by no means a scientist.) However my heart went out to the poor Brutes who were thrust into a life they could never understand even if they tried their hardest to live according to the Law!
JCO123 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Very interesting and well written. I guess Wells must have been the Crichton of his time.
Cvijaxo on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Reading Well's books I definitively came to conclusion that just watching film based on his books wrong. Books are very different in tone and main idea. Maybe kind of archaic reading now but definitive gruonders of genres and exciting, atmospheric even philosophyc books which are fundations of modern SF. In The Island of dr Moreau it is combination of horror and SF which makes eearie pesimistic reflection on then modern science which can easely can tranfered to modern conditions and problems in society and science (moralising about cloning for example). Well worth reading even today.
norabelle414 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It has recently come to my attention that I am a huge H. G. Wells fan. Not that I have a problem with that, it just some how managed to not come to my attention. But I do really love his books, and this one is no exception. I found it to be the perfect balance between action and introspection. The subject matter is horrifying (and sometimes gory), but very realistic and similar to what is currently being done with modern medicine and surgery. As usual, Wells shows himself to be almost creepily psychic. The science in this book would be a little off if it had been written 50 years ago, but it was written in 1896!!! Whereas so many science fiction authors have pictured the future with unisex silver bodysuits and hovercars and anthropomorphic robots, H. G. Wells is the only one who ever seems to get close to where the future is actually going, and all from 115 years ago.
theokester on LibraryThing 8 months 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.*****4.5 stars (out of 5)
Niecierpek on LibraryThing 8 months ago
An excellent book, and very much ahead of its time.
veilofisis on LibraryThing 8 months ago
`The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorseless as Nature.¿The Island of Dr. Moreau is a relentlessly disturbing novel¿and probably more disturbing to a modern reader (given our dubious `progress¿ in the fields of genetic modification, cloning, etc.) than to its first audience of 1896. Like Brave New World, the sheer plausibility of The Island of Dr. Moreau lends the novel a layer of social commentary that is difficult to ignore: for this is much more than run-of-the-mill science fiction or Gothic horror masquerading behind the veneer of quiet plausibility¿it¿s a searing exploration of nothing less than the very essence of what makes a human being a human being, a topic perhaps more relevant to the modern reader (who has familiarity with concentration camps, ethnic cleansing, and mass genocide) than, again, to those thrill-seeking readers of the fin de siècle. H. G. Wells has always been considered something of a visionary, but his politics are often ignored by readers of The War of the Worlds or The Invisible Man: but not so The Island of Dr. Moreau: from the very beginning, it seems, any discussion of this novel has also included an analysis of the theories expounded within, from reproach of a caustic hierarchy of social (especially racial) interactions to a deep questioning of the cold justification of what we might call `science for science¿s sake.¿The plot of The Island of Dr. Moreau involves a man named Prendick who has, at novel¿s start, been shipwrecked. He is taken aboard a passing vessel and eventually finds himself isolated on the private island of a scientist named Moreau who has been experimenting with animals: namely, dissecting the creatures and `reassembling¿ them, giving them the semblance of men (in both intellect and physical form). His experiments in vivisection, questionable though they are, seem to be a kind of horrific success¿until the `men¿ begin to devolve into their former bestiality. Up until the beginning of what is to become an absolute mess, the Beast Folk (as Moreau has termed them) have retained their `humanity¿ through a semi-elaborate system of what are half Moreau-imposed and half self-imposed laws: not to eat flesh or blood, not to bend down like an animal to drink, etc. As the delicate veil of humanity commences to rend under the inherent predilections and instincts of the Beast Folk¿s natures, however, things begin to spiral out of control. I won¿t ruin the conclusion of the novel¿for it is a very thoughtful one¿but needless to say, nobody emerges from this story quite unscathed (and how could they?).It is easy to imagine all this talk of sub-humanity and slippery scientific rationalizations as a kind of moral parable, and that is because that is precisely what The Island of Dr. Moreau is. As much as science fiction about chemical warfare or nuclear holocaust is a hot-button topic in a certain niche of the genre for today¿s readers, The Island of Dr. Moreau held the same `ripped from the headlines' status in its own day. That there are laws in many countries restricting the practice of vivisection and related sciences is due in no small part to the impact of this novel, which has horrified readers for over a hundred years. What we leave with, however, is not solely a definite condemnation of the scientific ego run amok, but also an uneasy correlation between the story of `created men¿ living under the ironically animalizing control of their creator and the status of cross-cultural relations as practiced under the imperialistic system present at the time of Wells¿ writing. The idea of reforming through `civilization¿ the `savage¿ lies at the heart of the notion of Empire¿from the British Raj to the American war in Iraq; and it is the timelessness of this social quandary that continues to render The Island of Dr. Moreau one of the more important pieces of science fiction written in the
Voise15 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Genuinely scary and unsettling short story - a satire on themes of creation, evolution and class - what makes us human? Excellent edition (Penguin Classics) with in depth biography, further reading, textual notes and alternative expositions of the text by Margaret Atwood.
eleanor_eader on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Adrift in a dinghy begins the blurb on the back of my Penguin copy, Edward Prendick, the single survivor from the good shop Lady Vain, is rescued by a vessel carrying a profoundly unusual cargo ¿ a menagerie of savage animals. A promising beginning, but unfortunately, once Prendick reaches Moreau¿s island, I wasn¿t as taken with the storytelling as I wanted to be, feeling it compared badly to other of Wells' works, finding it stilted in places. One thing that did flow freely was the creepy ¿ almost unholy ¿ atmosphere on the island. Nature made unnatural, `beast, made man¿ being somehow worse than `man, made beast¿. This horrific miasma, of an island populated by savagely violated, morally confused animals, made it not only readable, but gripping.Not the best of his work, in my opinion, but then I¿ve never been taken with moral satire ¿ Orwell¿s Animal Farm didn¿t appeal to me much, either. Still easily identifiable as a classic, but if you¿re look for both chills and a treatise on man¿s urge to behave like god at whatever cost, I¿d recommend Mary Shelley¿s Frankenstein first.
theboylatham on LibraryThing 8 months ago

Six out of ten,

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.