Danahay, Martin. “Wells, Galton and Biopower: Breeding Human Animals.” Journal of
Victorian Culture 17.4 (2012): 468-79. Print.
Danahay begins his essay by defining the Foucaultian term ‘biopower’, which he claims is “the treatment of humans as a ‘population’ amenable to management in the same terms as other natural resources” (468). With this framing, he moves into Wells’s critique of Francis Galton’s hope that “eugenics would become an internalized ‘creed’,” (470), insisting upon the inherently violent and brutal nature of natural selection, and therefore bringing the discussion of eugenics back under the umbrella of the macabre. Danahay suggests that this shift in tone is clear in Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, while exemplifying the horror that the narrator Prendick experiences when he experiences the beast people: “Wells expresses the common anxiety of that there was no stable boundary between the animal and the human, with the animal a potential within all humans because of their common ancestry,” (473). Furthermore, Danahay also notes how Wells tends to commodify the lesser species in his novels “Like the Martians (of The War of the Worlds) the Morlocks, have turned the Eloi into breeding stock and cull them as humans do cattle. This document becomes useful to my research when considering how real-world, Victorian anxieties have become transposed to the horrific in Victorian Science Fiction, specifically those regarding eugenics and human value.
Danta, Chris. “The future will have been animal: Dr. Moreau and the aesthetics of monstrosity.”
Textual Practice. 26.4 (2012): 687-705. Electronic.
The focus of Danta’s essay is anachronism and its purpose in science fiction: “My claim here is that literature – and especially that form of literature known as science fiction – is deliberately anachronistic in the sense that it consciously asks readers to reflect upon the relation between the time they nominally inhabit and the future,” (688). Danta cites Doctor Moreau as a work that uses this deliberate anachronism. A prominent example of this in the text, according to Danta, is Wells’s appendix to the story in which he claims that nothing presented in the account is outside of the realm of possibility (689 – 90). Essentially, Danta is stating that the application of ‘science’ in Wells’s novels are anachronistic, opposed to the ‘fantastic’ which was a much more common trope (690). The use value of Danta’s essay comes from his description of the “monstrous anthropomorphism” (697), and the “theological grotesque” (701) in Doctor Moreau, and can better draw out my understanding of fear rhetoric in these novels.
Davis, Colin. “From psychopathology to diabolical evil: Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde and Jean Renoir.”
The Journal of Romance Studies 12.1 (2012): 10-23. Electronic.
In his essay, Davis compares the book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to filmmaker Jean Renoir’s Le Testament du doctuer Cordelier, his movie adaptation of the story. He juxtaposes the complexity of Dr. Jekyll’s condition with the character Opale from Renoir’s film, an evil persona born from the potion (12). Jekyll, on the other hand, Davis believes to be more complex: “Jekyll’s duality is presented in the story as a kind of illness (because it impedes his desire for a contented life) and the ordinary condition of humankind. The ‘norm’ of unified and stable identity is universally and fundamentally questioned,” (11-12). He presents Kant’s definition of evil, which “comes about when we give priority to our desires rather than the law,” (15). Here is where I find my use value in Davis’s argument. By providing Kant’s definition of evil through disregard of the law and exemplifying this through Jekyll and Hyde, Davis has engaged my thought of instances of ‘evil’ in Wells’s novels, especially in regard to ‘the law’ in Doctor Moreau.
Harris, Mason. “Vivisection, the Culture of Science, and Intellectual Uncertainty in The Island of
Doctor Moreau.” Gothic Studies 2 (2002): 99-115. Print.
In this work, Harris claims, “Wells’s choice of vivisection to generate Gothic horror endows the story with a deep ambivalence towards science and contributes much to the mood of anxious uncertainty in which it ends,” (99). The ending in question is, naturally, Wells’s aforementioned appendix. Moreau, he argues, is equal parts “dedicated researcher and the sadistic torturer of animals” (100), representing the opposing arguments of vivisection in the Victorian culture. This document is useful in my research because of Harris’s claim that Doctor Moreau is indeed gothic horror, as well as his analysis that this may have “undermined the authority of science more thoroughly than he intended,” (101), providing an interesting counter-argument to Danahay’s defense of Wells’ desire to bring out the horror of the sciences.
Khader, Jamil. “Un/Speakability and Radical Otherness: The Ethics of Trauma in Bram Stoker’s
Dracula.” College Literature 39.2 (2012): 73-97. Print.
Lee, Michael. “Reading Meat in H. G. Wells.” Studies in the Novel 42.3: 249-268. Print.
The focus of Lee’s essay is the depiction of cannibalism and flesh in The Island of Doctor Moreau and The Time Machine. Lee explores the societal anxieties of the “cannibalistic implications of meat eating after the popularization of the evolution theory,” (251). Lee claims this anxiety is stressed much more in Doctor Moreau. He claims that Prendick’s “attempted survival cannibalism is mirrored in the bloodthirsty appetites of the island natives,” (252) thereby suggesting that cannibalism is a theme present throughout the novel. He compares this to the narrator’s discovery of cannibalism in The Time Machine (252 – 3). This document offers excellent insight into the real world Victorian anxiety about cannibalism, and how Wells fleshes out these anxieties by presenting them in the horrific.
McKechnie, Claire. “Spiders, Horror, and Animal Others in Late Victorian Empire
Fiction.” Journal of Victorian Culture 17.4 (2012): 505-16. Print.
McKechnie begins her essay by speaking of the work of naturalist J.G. Wood, and framing her argument around a quote about ‘arachnophobia’ (505). She states that spiders became associated with “dismay and terror,” (506) during the late Victorian era, and that empire fiction writers, such as H.G. Wells, would capitalize on this association. Specifically, McKechnie claims that Wells uses the spider as a “key symbol of horror and fascination in fin-de-siècle literary culture,” (507), and incorporates such symbolism in The War of the Worlds by virtue of the spider-vehicles driven by the Martians (514 – 15). This essay is particularly useful in exploring other fin-de-siècle novels, as well as a further example of Victorian science being represented as ‘the Gothic’.
Paudyal, Bed. “Trauma, Sublime, and the Ambivalence of Imperialist Imagination in H.G.
Wells’s The War of the Worlds.” Extrapolation: A Journey of Science Fiction and Fantasy 50.1: 102-119. Print.
Paudyal’s argument is based in his perceived duality of the narrator of The War of The Worlds. He claims that Wells’s narration is, “split between the ethical imperative that aligns itself with humanity as such (and even transcends the latter to include within its orbit other species), on the one hand; and the social-Darwinist imperative holding tenaciously onto the imperialist/ colonialist interest, on the other,” (103). According to Paudyal, this split in necessary in expressing both ‘trauma’ and the ‘sublime’ in the story. He discusses Freud and trauma, stating that Freud believes that there exists a “deep-seeded … inertia that refuses change/growth,” (106). Paudyal then gives an example of this inertia in Wells’s The War of the Worlds. When the group of spectators gathers around the first Martian landing site, Wells pays special attention to the inaction taken by individuals in the event of extreme horror (107 – 108). To Paudyal, this is the epitome of trauma and the sublime working in tandem. The effect is an overwhelming and hopeless sense of dread in the characters of the novel. This essay is particularly useful in engaging with the trauma of potential reverse colonization, a prominent anxiety in Victorian culture.