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Human Intervention and More-Than-Human Humanity in H. G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau

  • Shun Yin KiangEmail author
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Abstract

Taking into account Wells’s essays on a wide range of subjects as context, and in conversation with recent ecocriticism on ecological imagination and the Anthropocene, this essay locates in Doctor Moreau a fascination with a humanity that gestures outwards, one that imagines itself a part of alternative ideas, things, and spaces that collectively push the idea and boundary of the properly human to its epistemological limits. Bio-diverse and bizarre, the humanity—or, rather, humanities (Moreau’s, Montgomery’s, the Beast Folk’s, for example)—that Doctor Moreau apprehends and interacts with, speaks to Wells’s commitment to conceptualizing humanity as something relational, animal-human, and difficult to categorize and contain. More specifically, this essay brings into dialogue between Wells’s many essays and remarks on science and society and Doctor Moreau itself to gauge and comment on the writer’s scientifically informed humanism, which represents, in many ways, a caution against a positivism that reduces rather than respects the diversity and interconnectedness of things. In doing so, this essay focuses on two interrelated tasks: first, to track and analyze Prendick’s humanist struggles with, and his developing responses to, Moreau’s interventionist logic and the uncanny ways of the Beast Folk and second, to argue that Prendick’s questioning of the animal-human divide and its presumed ontological status are bound up with a fascination and grappling with a more-than-human humanity that calls into question the artificiality and absurdity of what it purports to be human.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Central OklahomaEdmondUSA

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