The Island of Dr Moreau is only a short novelette, but, like most of H G Wells’ stories, is thought-provoking and has a lot to say about human nature meeting scientific progress.
The narrator, Edward Prendick, is marooned on an island – human population two: Dr Moreau, whose controversial work got him exiled from England, and his assistant, Montgomery. He soon discovers that Moreau is conducting experiments on animals to transform them into a hideous semblance of humanity. He moulds them, both in body and mind, into disfigured creatures which are not quite animal and not quite human.
This being H G Wells, Dr Moreau’s work backfires, resulting in disaster. We return to London with Prendick, who is a changed man, unable to see anything other than beastly echoes in his fellow humans.
It’s told in Wells’ usual matter-of-fact, documentary style, which lends a solidity and a sense of uneasy realism to the horrors described. The narrator’s disillusionment with humanity has an echo of Gulliver’s Travels, although for different reasons.
A good short tale to dip into, which left me mulling over ideas for some time afterwards.
Next up: The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold