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Anne's House of Dreams (Anne of Green Gables, No. 5) Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1983
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From Library Journal
This 1917 volume is the latest of the publisher's inexpensive hardcover editions of Montgomery's adventures of Anne Shirley, which began with Anne of Green Gables.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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For a novel written so long ago I found the descriptions of the treatment meted out to the animals confronting. It's not a novel that I'd read again, don't consider it the best work by the author.
Prendick soon learns of Moreau's more recent experiments and the island's animal-turned human population. Wells' imagination provides a terrifying but engrossing menagerie including the Leopard Man, the Hyena-Swine, the Swine Folk, the Ape Man, Bull Men, Horse-Rhinoceros, Wolf-Bear, Ocelot Man, Dog Man and the Monkey Man.
It is at this point that the book finds its meaning as Prendick is introduced to the Law governing the behavior of these beings: "Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men? Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men? Not to eat Fish or Flesh; that is the Law. Are we not Men? Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men? Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"
This intonation creepily delivered by the beast-people raises the moral and ethical question that Moreau never considered, "Should we manipulate science, genetics, and biology?". All Moreau is interested in is 'can we?' without full entertaining the implications and impact of his efforts. In addition to this theme of progressive science, Wells raises the differences between man and animal, class distinctions, and religion as central organizing principle of a society.
This is what makes it a great read. It can be consumed for its thrills and chills or one can analyze it much deeper (or in my case, both). I am glad I finally got around to reading it and believe it would make for a great book club discussion.
After he is shipwrecked, the English gentleman Edward Prendick is rescued by a passing boat. The man who saved him, Montgomery, is taking a number of wild animals to a remote deserted island, where the creepy Dr. Moreau does some kind of research on the animals that are brought there. Naturally, Prendick is suspicious of Moreau's activities.
It doesn't take long for him to stumble across the products of Moreau's work -- grotesque hybrids of animal and human, who are surgically turned into humanoids and ordered not to act in animalistic ways. And with the laws of nature being horribly perverted, it's only a matter of time before Dr. Moreau's experiments lash out.
It's pretty obvious from this book that H.G. Wells was nervous about the ramifications of meddling in nature -- be it vivisection, evolutionary degeneration, or even just the idea that scientific progress could be used for horribly evil things. As a result, "The Island of Dr. Moreau" is perhaps his darkest, most horrific book.
The first couple chapters are rather stuffy in the 18th-century style, with Prendrick fussily noting everything that's happened to him. But the creepiness begins to enter once he arrives on the island, and explodes into weird, almost dreamlike scenes once he encounters the Beast Folk, culminating in the slow decay of everything on the island.
Prendrick is also perhaps the weakest link in the book. When the only other humans on the island are.... well, a mad scientist and his sidekick, you need a protagonist who really grips your imagination. But he's honestly kind of bland, to the point where any number of the beastly folk have far more presence and power than he does.
"The Island of Dr. Moreau" is a dark, eerie cautionary tale about science run amuck, and only its bland protagonist keeps it from fully engaging.
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