Old Tales Worth a Read: The Island of Doctor Moreau

Books are kinda like magic. They hold in their pages the lives of countless characters and they can transport us to  anywhere humans are capable of imagining. So many amazing stories are published every year however, sometimes it is worth looking back.

For me charity shops have always been a great source of books and a great place to donate them to when I have finished with them (I can never bring myself to throw a book in the bin!). One charity shop find of mine was a beautiful old hardback book with a plane blue cover and on its spine in gold it reads “The ISland of Doctor Moreau H.G. Wells”. Now I had heard of H.G. Wells before and knew vaguely of some of his other books, most notably “The War of The Worlds” so I picked it up.


All I knew is that it’s science fiction, its old (someone’s wrote December 1937 on its first page) and it smells like old books and I wanted to give it a go.

The Island of Dr Moreau is a fascinating read focusing on the misadventures of Edward Prendick. An English gentleman who is shipwrecked and rescued by a passing boat who is left on the island home of Doctor Moreau, a mad scientist who creates human-like hybrid beings from animals.

Dr Moreau is your typical mad scientist with an aim of experimenting on animals and trying to make them into humans. He has some success in this creating the “Beast Folk” however, he finds that over time a number of them start to revert back to animalistic habits. To combat this Dr Moreau has put in place a series of laws to make the Beast Folk act more human (e.g. Don’t drink bending down) and Beast Folk who break the laws are sent back to Dr Moreau’s compound to experience more pain and experimentation to make them more human again.

Over the course of the story Edward is faced with a number of moral and ethical dilemmas. Dr Moreau has no issue with causing pain and experimenting on animals in the pursuit of his goals. The book deals with a number of philosophical matters, including cruelty, moral responsibility, human identity, and human interference with nature. Wells himself described it as “an exercise in youthful blasphemy”.

I will not reveal how the story ends even though it’s kind of funny trying to avoid spoilers for a book that’s 80 years old! The Island is a great example of how older books can be just as interesting and relevant today. Animal testing and the morality and impact of human  interference in nature are still controversial issues today. The book is a great story and if you fancy picking it up then you can buy it here The Island of Doctor Moreau (Penguin Classics)

If there is one thing I would recommend to any lovers of reading its to add some older books to your reading lists. There are some amazing books out there old and new and its surprising how engaging and relevant some of older stories still are.

If you have already read the island or any other older stories share them in the comments below so that others can explore some old stories for the first time!

Thanks for reading to the end!

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