Thursday, August 24, 2006

Preparing for Moreau

The Slaves of Golconda discussion for The Island of Dr. Moreau is set for August 30th. If you want to join the discussion, there is still time to read the book. It is a short and a fast read. Just because it is short and easy, however, doesn't mean there are no ideas in it. My book is bristling with page points marking useful passages. Since the book is my suggestion, I thought I'd do a bit of online research in hopes of providing some additional and useful information. The first place to look is the H.G. Wells Society, "dedicated to promoting and encouraging an active interest in and appreciation of the life, work and thought of H.G. Wells." Wells is considered by many to be the one to establish the genre of science fiction. In volume alone, he wrote more words than Dickens and Shakespeare combined. I find that to be quite impressive. The site also offers other Wells links. Most seem to be for sites interested in War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. There is even a Time Machine Project website dedicated to the book and movies. The Literature Network has a detailed biography and links to online Wells texts. An interesting thing for Moreau readers in Wells' bio, he studied biology with T.H. Huxley. He eventually lost interest and left his studies in 1887 without taking a degree. Wikipedia also has a thorough biography of Wells. There is also a page about Moreau. When Wells wrote the novel, England was locked in debate over animal vivisection. Alberto Manguel has a chapter on his experience re-reading Dr. Moreau as an adult (he originally read it at the age of 12) in his book A Reading Diary. He writes:

A pedantic note: the reality of the novel is Kantian. The protagonist sees the world as he imagines it to be, while the reader knows there is a world-in-itself, unknowable to the protagonist. The drama arises from the tension between what the protagonist believes and what the reader knows.
Something to think about for further discussion? Finally, Margaret Atwood has written an introduction to The Island of Dr. Moreau for Penguin UK in 2005. The introduction is also included in her book Writing with Intent. In the introduction, "Ten Ways of Looking at The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells," she cites Borges writing about the book. His essay is included in The Total Library: Nonfiction 1922-1986. At one point Atwood refers to Prendick as a "Modern Ancient Mariner." More food for thought. Hope these little bits help as everyone prepares for discussion. Even if you are not a "Slave," you are welcome to participate.