[Work: The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells, 1896]
Coping with Scientific Understanding:

Discoveries that can Forever Alter Worldviews in H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau

 

H.G. Wells Sketch by M.R.P. - The Island of Dr. Moreau - evolution, humanity, animals, discovery

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
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Introduction:

Unlike the other most prominent early writer of science fiction, Jules Verne, who focused his fiction primarily on courageous adventure, scientific discovery, and multifaceted characters like Captain Nemo, H.G. Wells’ fiction often focused on dark themes, political allegory, and social commentary. For this reason, the most widely read of Wells’ fiction among modern audiences are those which allegorize situations or possibilities that seem most relevant today, such as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Invisible Man.

But my favorite work by the man, and one of my favorite books overall, is one which is more often regarded for its potential in the horror genre than for its literary content: The Island of Dr. Moreau. A number of films have presented The Island of Dr. Moreau as horror or action, and it even had a segment in the The Simpsons‘ thirteenth “Treehouse of Horrors” episode. The film adaptations (all quite loose) are almost universally regarded as terrible, or else are enjoyable primarily for their B-movie charm and missteps. But the book is a truly remarkable one, and tugs at anxieties that many of us will understand far too well.

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[Work: The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells, 1896]
Coping with Scientific Understanding:

Discoveries that can Forever Alter Worldviews in H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau

was last modified: March 26th, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski

[Work: Candide or Optimism, Voltaire, 1759]
The Unexpected Joy of Despair:

Comedy and Tragedy (or Pessimism and Optimism) in Voltaire’s Candide

 

Voltaire Sketch by M.R.P. - Candide - comedy and tragedy - idealism and pessimism - philosophical optimism

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Introduction:

“Voltaire was the wittiest writer in an age of great wits, and Candide is his wittiest novel.” – John Butt

With a few notable exceptions toward the middle, this brief, influential work by Voltaire spends every chapter spinning a denser and denser web of horrors and misfortunes for its principal characters, and for everyone they meet. Wars break out, destroying lands, cities, and people; innocents are burned and lashed as heretics; lovers are repeatedly separated and brutally punished; and murders and disfigurements occur often and without warning.

Yet, through all of the horrors, I would be hard-pressed to name five books I’ve encountered and found funnier or more charming than Candide. It is rare when three pages pass in sequence without eliciting laughter. The novella is packed densely with stinging irony and sharp satire, directed almost entirely at philosophical optimists who posit that humans live in “the best of all possible worlds.”

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[Work: Candide or Optimism, Voltaire, 1759]
The Unexpected Joy of Despair:

Comedy and Tragedy (or Pessimism and Optimism) in Voltaire’s Candide

was last modified: March 26th, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski