Chapter

Introduction: Imagining Animals

Mark Payne

in The Animal Part

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780226650845
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226650852 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226650852.003.0001
Introduction: Imagining Animals

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This chapter discusses imagining the animals in poetic works. In the narratives of Aristophanes, Melville, and Céline, human fascination with the sociality of other animals is ultimately thwarted. Jacques Derrida, in “The Animal that Therefore I Am,” locates a fault line between “poetic thinking” and “philosophical knowledge” in the latter's unwillingness, or inability, to register the experience of being seen by a nonhuman animal. The protagonists either recreate the human society they had wished to leave or are abandoned by the animal society they had wished to join. For Leopold, the understanding of the dying animal precipitated by looking into its eyes extends outward to a sympathetic vision of a world of striving beings in which he and the wolf are two such beings among others.

Keywords: imagining animals; human society; nonhuman animals; animal society; protagonists

Chapter.  10188 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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