In this review of The Island of Dr. Moreau, P Chalmers Mitchell starts by praising H G Wells’s earlier work, but then complains that in this novel he ‘has put out his talent to the most flagitious usury’; in other works, he disapproves of it. He complains strongly about the amount of blood, the description of pain (‘unworthy of restrained art’), and the relentless horror of the story. It was acceptable at that time for reviewers to tell the story, and Moreau’s death is mentioned, and the boat with the corpses which drifts onto the island.
But mostly what annoys Mitchell is the science; although he agrees that ‘there is scientific basis enough to form the plot of a story’, he refutes Wells’s claim, made in an afternote, that ‘the manufacture of monsters – and perhaps even quasi-human monsters – is within the possibilities of vivisection’. Mitchell states that ‘you can transfuse blood or graft skin from one man to another; but attempts to combine living material from different animals fail’.
- Article by:
- Roger Luckhurst
- Fin de siècle, Visions of the future
Roger Luckhurst looks at H G Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau as a text that both provoked and explored feelings of disgust, reflecting late-Victorian questions and fears about vivisection, cannibalism and evolutionary degeneration.