Animals, says Shaw, "go up into the sky and down into the depths — to the places that we can't go". A fruitful tension between seeing animals as themselves and enlisting them in a philosophical or artistic quest for human nature runs through many genres. We can never know the beast through its own eyes, although many authors try to do just that.
More recently, Wittgenstein memorably summarised the gulf between animal "forms of life" and ours: "If a lion could speak, we could not understand him. Matthew Shaw was surprised to find how recently the classic line of animal stories for children took shape. This "late blooming", from the late 18th century, may coincide with the industrial and urban revolutions that removed masses of people from daily encounters with animals as the source of labour, livelihood and food.
Since then, Shaw suggests, our literary bestiary has often meant "an escape from modernity in some ways", even though many ground-breaking writers — from Franz Kafka and Guillaume Apollinaire to Ted Hughes, Angela Carter and Mark Doty — have saluted the beast within, and without. Mythical, sacred or bristlingly real, the wild and the tame, literary animals will welcome visitors to the British Library until the start of November. To celebrate, I have chosen a few favourite written beasts — some of which you will also find in the BL gallery. With such a vast menagerie of tales, many much-loved species can boast scores, if not hundreds of classic "characters".
I have picked one work for each animal. You will have your own pet texts. This ark need have no limits. At the fountainhead of Western epic poetry stands the godfather of every faithful hound. Odysseus's dog Argos has waited for his long-lost master to return from Troy. Now infirm, Argos recognises the wanderer, but the disguised homecomer cannot acknowledge him.
So "just then death darkened the eyes of Argos, who had seen Odysseus again after 20 years". Like his whimsical rider, the ageing knight's trusty steed is knackered, clumsy, over-the-hill. Yet Rocinante shares the stout heart and never-say-die attitude of the Don himself, bravely bearing him to adventures as "the first and foremost of all hacks in the world". Given half a chance, he also chases the fillies. Serial victor in the "Fat Pig" class at the Shropshire Show, the mighty white sow Empress of Blandings enjoyed a year trot through the Wodehouse canon.
Lord Emsworth's favourite female not only mothered a litter of outlandish plots but has recently lent her imperial title to a Hampshire pub. This gem of a novel from proves that the classic beast-fable is alive and kicking. From Apuleius The Golden Ass to Robert Louis Stevenson, donkeys and asses tend to get the respect in literature that unkind life denies them. Medvei's chess-playing good companion belongs with her greatest forebears.
Enigmatic, talkative felines stalk Murakanmi's fiction, the source of wisdom, mystery and enlightenment. Although one strand of his novel sends the cat-finder Mr Nakata in search of the strayed Goma, many felines — from the smart Siamese Mimi to the veteran Otsuka — have their idiosyncratic say. In the year of Chernobyl, Germany's maverick literary conscience speculated — as apocalyptic fiction often has — that the rats will inherit the earth.
His "ratess" instructs her human keeper about the fate of the poisoned planet and so — as utopia vies with dystopia — goads him to imagine a better future.
Is The Jungle Book blasphemous? - Decent Films
In , Miss Potter transformed her rebellious streak into the story of a pair of hooligan Mus musculi who vandalise a twee doll's house. Her words and pictures convey an almost anarchic relish in domestic mayhem and upheaval. These mice roar. Chill out, bunny babe. Carroll's genius with animals lay in a subversive re-purposing of stereotypes. Here, traditional timidity becomes more sinister: a mid-Victorian bourgeois conformity that Alice learns to avoid. The White Rabbit's pocket-watch says it all. In the early 19th century, the "peasant poet" emptied the Romantic menagerie of its symbolic beasts and wrote instead about realistic creatures as fellow-strugglers in rural life.
In , a decade after Kafka's Metamorphosis, the ancient terror of a sudden species-change inspired one of the Bloomsbury Group's most powerful fictional experiments. A young wife's transformation results in authentic vixen-like behaviour, observed by her husband with the sort of deadpan lucidity that intensifies the menace of the parable. Since Virgil's Georgics, 2, years ago, hive behaviour has proved a bottomless honey-pot for writers in search of allegorical accounts of social life.
The theme has never lost its buzz, but in Laline Paull's debut indicated, via the upwardly mobile career of Flora , that modern environmental crisis can lend it a fresh sting. When animals returned to Modernist verse, they frequently did so in unglamorous guises. In Bishop's poems, often inspired by her 15 years in tropical Brazil, lonely and ungainly creatures suffer species-defined setbacks but also convey a universal plight. Clumsy, solitary, "heavy, heavy, heavy", her outsize snail finds life an endless trial: "Withdrawal is always best. Surely the weasels have failed and Mr Toad still lives in the Hall.
Grahame's portrait of the over-entitled Englishman shrewdly sees that an amphibious nature — with its ability to adapt and survive — protects the smug, impulsive toff. Chaps like him will get away with, if not murder, then a string of motoring infractions. In , Hughes's "life and songs" of the divine, demonic bird lifted to the heights a poetic career that always blended the symbolic role of creatures with an insistence on their separateness.
His Crow snaps up pantheons of human gods and myths in the face of looming catastrophe, but ultimately flies only "the black flag of himself". By the s, the prestige of natural history had encouraged many writers to imagine more zoologically credible creatures, rather than human archetypes in furry robes. In Tarka's battles with the Devon otter-hunt, Williamson proved a pioneer of sentiment-free narrative — although his far-right sympathies hint at a more troubling side to the "green" heritage.
With their handy thumbs and armour, Pullman's metal-working panserbjorne may slip over the edge from sentient actual species into fantastic creatures — a distinct literary category. Yet Iorek Byrnison, the royal bear of Svalbard, shows in his exile how the noblest beasts of fiction often take shape through a creative alloy of zoology and mythology.
With its allusion to a medieval poem, Hines's classroom favourite grasps that birds of prey and class division go hand-in-glove in Britain. The avian avatar that lets young Billy fly away from his mining town has an ancient symbolic plumage. This bird belongs as well to , when so many hopes took flight.
Beasts deliver a moral verdict, and lions with a hotline to the Almighty may judge men. Unscathed in their den, the falsely accused hero can say that "My God hath sent his angels, and hath shut the lions' mouths". Lame, vain, disrespected, Shere Kahn is a wounded emperor, scorned as "all long tail and loud talk". If, in , Kipling knew that jungle beasts may hold a mirror up to power, then he stood in an ancient Indian line. A stalwart of the Indian classics, the elephant treads down the centuries to general applause, pachydermously resistant to the changing fortunes of other beasts.
But in Gowdy's remarkable novel , the young cow Mud must negotiate selfish as well as noble conduct in the She-S clan. The elephant characterisation draws its strength from research into the African herd life. Hunted since by fleets of interpreters, Melville's great white monster has come to stand for nothing less than meaning, or destiny, or literature itself. His elusive leviathan has swallowed a library. Yet this is also, in delirious profusion, a novel about whalers and whaling, crammed with cetacean expertise and seafaring lore gleaned from old Nantucket salts.
Resourceful, impetuous, Sun Wukong stands apart from other beastly heroes: he can transform himself into other creatures. Jungle Animal Babies will focus on fun jungle animal babies like monkeys, panthers, and baby birds and their special characteristics.
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Feeling Identity Alive Being. There is nothing like the thrill of walking through the jungle looking for a tiger and knowing they could be watching you already. Ashlan Gorse Cousteau. You Walking Looking Tiger. Clearly, then, the city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo. Desmond Morris. City Zoo Human Concrete.
Life is a zoo in a jungle. Peter De Vries. Life Life Is A Zoo. I used to think fashion was something unattainable and reserved only for people who look like models. But looking back, I've always made bold choices, possibly beginning with the silk jungle print jacket, orange shorts, and Nepalese cap I insisted on wearing every day when I was ten.
Lisa Hanawalt. Day People Looking Back Fashion. People often think of New York as a city, a concrete jungle with soaring skyscrapers and yellow taxis and the bright lights of Times Square. And it is that, in part. But beyond that, it's rolling hills of fruit orchards and fields of grain and ice-cold waters brimming with oysters.
Daniel Humm. People Yellow City Fruit. I try to think of myself as a lion, bringing down the kill, controlling the jungle.