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The Island of Doctor Moreau / Edition 1

The Island of Doctor Moreau / Edition 1

by H. G. Wells, Mason Harris H. G. Wells
Pub. Date:
Broadview Press
Pub. Date:
Broadview Press
The Island of Doctor Moreau / Edition 1

The Island of Doctor Moreau / Edition 1

by H. G. Wells, Mason Harris H. G. Wells
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The introduction and appendices to this edition put particular emphasis on Wells’ hostility towards religion and his knowledge of the Darwinian thought of his time.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781551113272
Publisher: Broadview Press
Publication date: 07/07/2009
Series: Broadview Editions
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 292
Sales rank: 919,179
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

H.G. Wells (1866–1946) was an English novelist who helped to define modern science fiction. Wells came from humble beginnings with a working-class family. As a teen, he was a draper’s assistant before earning a scholarship to the Normal School of Science. It was there that he expanded his horizons learning different subjects like physics and biology. Wells spent his free time writing stories, which eventually led to his groundbreaking debut, The Time Machine. It was quickly followed by other successful works like The Island of Doctor Moreau and The War of the Worlds.

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

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.

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

H.G. Wells: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Island of Doctor Moreau

Appendix A: Wells on Wells

Appendix B: Wells on Moreau and Science Fiction

  1. From Arthur H. Lawrence, “The Romance of the Scientist: An Interview with Mr. H.G. Wells” (1897)
  2. From H.G. Wells, “Preface,” The Works of H.G. Wells, Vol. 2 (1924)
  3. From H.G. Wells, “Preface,” The Scientific Romances of H.G. Wells (1933)

Appendix C: Contemporary Reviews

  1. Chalmers Mitchell, Saturday Review (11 April 1896)
  2. Letter from H.G. Wells replying to Chalmers Mitchell, Saturday Review (1 November 1896)
  3. [R.H. Hutton], Spectator (11 April 1896)
  4. Manchester Guardian (14 April 1896)
  5. The Guardian (3 June 1896)
  6. The Times (17 June 1896)
  7. The Review of Reviews (July–December 1895)

Appendix D: Evolution and Struggle I: Classical Darwinism

  1. From Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam (1850)
  2. From Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (1859, 1872)
  3. From Thomas H. Huxley, Man’s Place in Nature (1863)
  4. From Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)
  5. From Charles Darwin, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)
  6. From H.G. Wells, Text–Book of Biology (1893)
  7. From H.G. Wells, “The Rediscovery of the Unique” (1891)
  8. From H.G. Wells, “The Mind in Animals” (1894)

Appendix E: Evolution and Struggle II: Later Huxley and Wells

  1. From Thomas H. Huxley, “The Struggle for Existence in Human Society” (February 1888)
  2. From Thomas H. Huxley, “An Apologetic Irenicon” (November 1892)
  3. From Thomas H. Huxley, “Evolution and Ethics” (1893, 1894)
  4. From H.G. Wells, “Bio–Optimism” (29 August 1895)
  5. From H.G. Wells, “Human Evolution, an Artificial Process” (October 1896)
  6. From H.G. Wells, “The Acquired Factor” (9 January 1897)
  7. From H.G. Wells, “Morals and Civilization” (February 1897)
  8. From H.G. Wells, “Human Evolution: Mr. Wells Replies” (April 1897)

Appendix F: Degeneration and Madness

  1. From Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)
  2. From H.G. Wells, “The Problem of the Birth Supply” (1903)
  3. From H.G. Wells, A Modern Utopia (1905)
  4. From Gina Lombroso–Ferrero, Criminal Man According to the Classification of Cesare Lombroso (1911)
  5. From Cesare Lombroso, Crime: Its Causes and Remedies (1899)
  6. From William James, Psychology: The Briefer Course (1892)
  7. From Jacques–Joseph Moreau, La Psychologie Morbide (1859)
  8. From Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895, 1896)
  9. From H.G. Wells, The Croquet Player (1936)

Appendix G: The Vivisection Controversy

  1. From Claude Bernard, Report on the Progress and Development of General Physiology in France (1867)
  2. From Michael Foster, Claude Bernard (1899)
  3. From Claude Bernard, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865)
  4. From George Hoggan (and R.H. Hutton), Letter, The Spectator (1875)
  5. From R.H. Hutton’s Testimony in Report of the Royal Commission on the Practice of Subjecting Live Animals to Experiments for Scientific Purposes (1876)
  6. From Dr. Emanuel Klein’s Testimony in Report of the Royal Commission on the Practice of Subjecting Live Animals to Experiments for Scientific Purposes (1876)
  7. From Frances Power Cobbe, Life of Frances Power Cobbe. By Herself (1894)
  8. From H.G. Wells, Text–Book of Biology (1893)
  9. From H.G. Wells, “Popular Feeling and the Advancement of Science. Anti–Vivisection” (1928)

Appendix H: Wells Explains: Two Essays Relating to Moreau’s Argument

  1. From H.G. Wells, “The Province of Pain” (February 1894)
  2. From H.G. Wells, “The Limits of Individual Plasticity” (19 January 1895)

Appendix I: “The Terrible Medusa Case”: An Historical Source for Prendick’s Shipwreck (1818)

Appendix J: Wells’s First Draft of Moreau

Select Bibliography

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?

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