Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

You can buy a copy of The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting at Barnes and Noble or BooksAMillion (I think these are the bowdlerized versions) or you can read the original version for free through Amazon or Project Gutenberg.

Previous reviews of this series:
The Story of Doctor Dolittle
The Blurb

Doctor Dolittle heads for the high seas in perhaps the most amazing adventure ever experienced by man or animal. Told by nine-and-a-half-year-old Tommy Stubbins, crewman and future naturalist, the voyages of Doctor Dolittle and his company lead them to Spidermonkey Island. Along with his faithful friends, Polynesia the parrot and Chee-Chee the monkey, Doctor Dolittle survives a perilous shipwreck and lands on the mysterious floating island. There he meets the wondrous Great Glass See Snail who holds the key to the greatest mystery of all.

My Review
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I read both The Story of Doctor Dolittle and The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle back to back, as part of my goal for reading all the Newbery Medal and Honor Books. And I chose to read the unrevised versions instead of the bowdlerized editions because those are the editions that garnered Newbery attention. Both books disappointed me.

I touched up on racism that supports colonialism in my review of the first book (The Story of Doctor Dolittle) but didn't go into much detail because other people have done so and readers can do their own research. I found the racism irritating in the first book; the second book is worse. Lofting continues to build on the idea that colonialism is the "natural order" and attempts to justify the theft of native lands based on the supposed ignorance of natives. My first response to some of the statements made in this book involved cursing that I can't repeat here because of rules regarding language. 
Maybe a child can suspend their disbelief but I couldn't, not for this book. Lofting continues to ignore the five senses to build his world. He doesn't paint a picture of England, let alone South America or the ocean. There's no descriptions of plants or weather. Nothing smells in Lofting's world. I never get a sense of environment. He paints an unrealistic depiction of the legal system. He continues to make his animal characters so alike that they can't be recognized without him mentioning their names during dialogue and his anthropomorphism encourages colonialism and the notion that this is how people should walk/think/talk/act. Pfft. Screw that (beYOUtiful).

I have no idea how the bowdlerized versions compare and I'm not interested in undertaking that task because this book both irritated and bored me. If this wasn't a Newbery Medal Winner, I would have discarded this book before hitting the halfway point. And, as none of the future books in the series take a medal or honor place, I am discarding the series. I see no point to continue being bored out of my mind. There are too many good books out there to waste time on books that leave much to be desired. 

View all my reviews

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