Striating the stubborn beast-flesh: H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau and Deleuzoguattarian space

Starr, M. J. (Speaker)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsSeminarResearch


Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari are arguably the twentieth century’s most spatial philosophers, with much of their writing concerning the human desire to make their physical, social, or psychological environments comprehensible by means of delineating, quantifying and measuring. Conversely Deleuze and Guattari also emphasise the ways in which our world resists these attempts at over-coding and hierarchisation. Deleuzoguattarian thought often features allegorical uses of islands, but these are never simply geographical representations; instead they function as philosophical exemplifications of cultural spaces, existing virtually as ‘plateaus’, enabling the ‘becoming’ of concepts, creatings and creatures. This approach is especially pertinent when applied to the depictions of islands in literature, in which they are a commonly used device, particularly in the science fiction genre. H.G. Wells, the ‘father of modern science fiction’ (Stableford et al 1076) uses the island motif multiple times in various ways: literally in The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), as well as metaphorically in the depiction of communities isolated by other means, such as in The Country of the Blind (1904) (a valley estranged from the rest of the world), and also in The Time Machine (1895) (an island not in space, but in time). This paper unites the Deleuzeoguattarian concepts of smooth, striated and nomadic spaces as defined in A Thousand Plateaus (1980), with H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, demonstrating how these philosophical concepts serve to emphasise the significance of the physical setting and spaces of the novel, and the physical transformations that occur within them
Period8 Dec 2011
Event titleSchool of The Arts Internal Seminar Series
Event typeConference
LocationNorthampton, United Kingdom