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The Beast Within: H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and human evolution in the mid-1890s

The Beast Within: H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and human evolution in the mid-1890s
The Beast Within: H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and human evolution in the mid-1890s
H.G. Wells’ novels The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau were both concerned with the evolutionary destiny of mankind and what it meant to be human, both important areas of discussion for Victorian natural science in the 1890s. In this essay I set these two works in their broader scientific context and explore some of the then contemporary influences on them drawn from the emerging disciplines of archaeology and anthropology. Wells was a student of T.H. Huxley whose influence on his own emerging views on human evolution are clear. While most scientists and the lay-public accepted the reality of evolution by the 1890s, and the natural origins of the human species, fear of the implications of our ‘primitive’ heritage pervaded popular and scientific works. Wells bridged that gap with an uncompromising outlook delivered to the public as scientific truth delivered through short stories, novels and scientific journalism.
the time machine, palaeolithic, human evolution, archaeology, eoliths, beast-man, pithecanthropus, H.G. Wells
0072-1050
383-397
McNabb, John
59e818b1-3196-4991-93eb-75ed9c898e71
McNabb, John
59e818b1-3196-4991-93eb-75ed9c898e71

McNabb, John (2015) The Beast Within: H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and human evolution in the mid-1890s. Geological Journal, 50 (3), 383-397. (doi:10.1002/gj.2607).

Record type: Article

Abstract

H.G. Wells’ novels The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau were both concerned with the evolutionary destiny of mankind and what it meant to be human, both important areas of discussion for Victorian natural science in the 1890s. In this essay I set these two works in their broader scientific context and explore some of the then contemporary influences on them drawn from the emerging disciplines of archaeology and anthropology. Wells was a student of T.H. Huxley whose influence on his own emerging views on human evolution are clear. While most scientists and the lay-public accepted the reality of evolution by the 1890s, and the natural origins of the human species, fear of the implications of our ‘primitive’ heritage pervaded popular and scientific works. Wells bridged that gap with an uncompromising outlook delivered to the public as scientific truth delivered through short stories, novels and scientific journalism.

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McNabb 2015 The Beast Within Geological Journal.pdf - Accepted Manuscript
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 4 August 2014
e-pub ahead of print date: 9 October 2014
Published date: May 2015
Keywords: the time machine, palaeolithic, human evolution, archaeology, eoliths, beast-man, pithecanthropus, H.G. Wells
Organisations: Archaeology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 377806
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/377806
ISSN: 0072-1050
PURE UUID: 178e4e68-cccd-4e8f-9429-62fec747c7a8

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 15 Jun 2015 14:41
Last modified: 19 Jul 2019 20:42

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