I could probably compose this post almost entirely from fragments of stuff I’ve already written about other books. Let’s see, what exactly do we have here?
Brought low by circumstance, I was set upon by ne’er-do-wells and cast adrift in a strange and wondrous land.
A truly Darwinian vision that accurately and devastatingly puts humankind’s pretentions as a species in their proper, insignificant places. A commentary on the thin, easily cracked veneer of ‘civilization’ separating us from our bestial natures, with a gaping moral abhorrence at its core.
That’ll probably do for now. I feel like I should say something like ‘despite inspiring several generations of writers to explore the themes within, Dr. Moreau stills feels fresh and important,’ but only one of those things would be true. It’s pretty stale, to be honest.
That’s a grossly unfair accusation, of course. It’d take something pretty special to still feel freshly pressed after almost 120 years; I can hardly accuse it of being derivative when so much has so clearly been derived from it. But its obvious importance means that it’s been picked to death by many, many hands in that time. It’s a testament to its quality that there’s enough in it to do so for that long, but it’s hard to get too excited by something when you’ve seen it all before, deconstructed and re-interpreted countless times. The images that would once have seemed so fresh and startling now seem almost commonplace and twee.
This isn’t about me being jaded. Or at least, it’s not just about me being jaded. Culture eats itself. Pop-culture especially is frantically cannibalistic, and at an ever increasing rate. How many Spiderman reboots are we up to now? The fact that there’s still clearly mileage to be had in the whole man-as-beast/beast-as-man conceit demonstrates a certain timelessness for the story and concepts, but as we all know, with great influence comes great responsibility (or something) and the most responsible people all know when to step back and let the next generation take the reins. Or whips/revolvers/scalpels/whatever.
Don’t mind me. I’m just bitter because, while this isn’t new, nothing I could say about it could be new either. Interesting. Worth a look. 3½ stars. Blah blah blah.