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Animal Studies Journal

Abstract

David Herman has put together a landmark collection of essays in the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature series. Drawing from the Animal Studies theories of Donna Haraway, John Berger, Jacques Derrida and Cary Wolfe, for instance, the collection has a lot to offer students new to Literary Animal Studies. Rigorous essays which further debates mean that the collection also has appeal for established scholars in the field. Creatural Fictions takes its title, Herman explains, partly from the creaturely theories Anat Pick turns to in Simone Weil, but the term ‘creatural’ is preferred in order to emphasise continuities between human and animal embodiment, our common existence in time and place, and the concomitant ‘relational ties’ (3). This mode of enquiry is deployed to open up various literary texts, ranging from the early twentieth century novels of Djuna Barnes to contemporary novels by Jane Smiley, Zakes Mda and Yann Martel. While some of the novels like JM Coetzee’s Disgrace and Martel’s Life of Pi have already been discussed extensively, the essays proffer new interpretations. It was a pity, though, that poetry did not get a look in.

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