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Thread: Literature, Animals and Oppression: help me write my dissertation reading list?

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    Question Literature, Animals and Oppression: help me write my dissertation reading list?

    Hey there all you lovely people,

    I'm a student in London preparing to make my dissertation proposals and I'm fairly intent on writing something that would allow me to compare animal oppression to human oppression. The problem is, while I'm knee-deep in criticism and philosophy that I can utilise, I haven't read enough fiction that explores or alludes to the subject. And so, I have found myself here in this forum asking for your help.

    An example I thought of was Germinal, in which the horses are kept purely as labourers (hello, Marx, Hegel, etc), the rabbit is... well, let's not talk about the rabbit. I get upset. Anywho, these characters are presented sympathetically by the author. And that's the kind of thing I'm looking for. Not the usual animal-human relationships, but something that reveals an ideology under the skin, as it were.

    So yes, if any of you can think of novels you've read that might be helpful in my exploration of my ideas, that'd be awesome and lovely and I would be eternally grateful.

    (My second proposal, in case any one is interested, is on the human obsession with their own mortality -- I also need novels to add to my list for this haha. Any one?)

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    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    In Gulliver's Travels, in one of his adventures, when he travels to the Country of Houyhnhnms he discovers a land which is ruled by intelligent horses, and there are these human like creatures called Yahoos, that the Houyhnhnms (the horse-folk) view as being savage, primitive creatures and it makes Guilliver reflect upon how horses are treated back in England.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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    Thank you! That is so helpful

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    I’m quite uncertain about my propositions here (not sure of understanding you well), so I’ll let them to your judgement - posting it won't do any demage.
    First what came to my mind is “White Fang” by Jack London, which presents (among others) cruel dog-fights. And very similar novel by James Oliver Curwood “Kazan the Wolf-Dog” with the same point as far as I remember. In “The Valley of the Moon” London mentions something about fate of “used” horses also, but he hardly touches the topic.
    I thought about “Animal Farm” by Orwell that is perfect example of anthropomorphization, so I have no idea what is better – to take it as an example of human oppression or animal oppression. If it’s all right with fantasy novel, you can take a look at “Watership Down” by Richard Adams as well (adventures of wild rabbits whose warren is destroyed by people).
    Maybe the story “The Black Cat” by E. A. Poe would fit in? I remember it very vaguely, but there’s for sure something about cruel actions against that poor cat.
    English is not my mother tongue, so please go easy on me.
    All corrections and tips are strongly appreciated - I'm here for picking up some books but also polishing my language-skills.
    Thanks for understanding!

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    All are at the crossroads qimissung's Avatar
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    What about Moby Dick for the latter?
    "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its' own reason for existing." ~ Albert Einstein
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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Flush by Virginia Woolf may be an interesting addition to your dissertation.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    In Gulliver's Travels, in one of his adventures, when he travels to the Country of Houyhnhnms he discovers a land which is ruled by intelligent horses, and there are these human like creatures called Yahoos, that the Houyhnhnms (the horse-folk) view as being savage, primitive creatures and it makes Guilliver reflect upon how horses are treated back in England.
    Bonus points if you did not have to look up the spelling of Houyhnhnms
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Hey Humming Bee, thank you I already have Animal Farm on my list as a positive example of inter-species characterisation, so I'm glad you were able to pick up on what I was looking for despite my very vague first post... And although I'm very familiar with Watership Down, I have no idea why I didn't think of it before now in relation to this project! So silly of me. So thank you for that! And The Black Cat, I've read too, and I think it would be worth adding that to my list also

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    Yes! Flush is on my list also I haven't read it yet, but it came up in my perusal of the university library. Very excited about it because I'm a huge Woolf fan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by qimissung View Post
    What about Moby Dick for the latter?
    Perfect!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Humming Bee View Post
    I’m quite uncertain about my propositions here (not sure of understanding you well), so I’ll let them to your judgement - posting it won't do any demage.
    First what came to my mind is “White Fang” by Jack London, which presents (among others) cruel dog-fights. And very similar novel by James Oliver Curwood “Kazan the Wolf-Dog” with the same point as far as I remember. In “The Valley of the Moon” London mentions something about fate of “used” horses also, but he hardly touches the topic.
    I thought about “Animal Farm” by Orwell that is perfect example of anthropomorphization, so I have no idea what is better – to take it as an example of human oppression or animal oppression. If it’s all right with fantasy novel, you can take a look at “Watership Down” by Richard Adams as well (adventures of wild rabbits whose warren is destroyed by people).
    Maybe the story “The Black Cat” by E. A. Poe would fit in? I remember it very vaguely, but there’s for sure something about cruel actions against that poor cat.
    One of the most meaningful propositions about horses that I have seen was The Horse Whisperer, with Robert Redford.

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    All are at the crossroads qimissung's Avatar
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    I kind of hate to mention this because it seems so obvious, and I'm not sure if it's what you're really looking for, but there's always Black Beauty.
    "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its' own reason for existing." ~ Albert Einstein
    "Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." Buckaroo Bonzai
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    Skol'er of Thinkery The Comedian's Avatar
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    What about The Island of Dr. Moreau? -- he tries to turn animals into humans. . . . . one of my favorite Wells' novels.
    “Oh crap”
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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Lady Into Fox might be of interest though it's not really political.

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    As for the other list...well, are you set on doing novels? Because Hamlet is screaming out.

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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    There is an old text in the Chinese narrative describing how the Tang emperor Xuanzong bought an expensive dozen of dancing horses from Central Asia. upon the rise of the Anshi rebellion, the prized dancing horses were seized and their captors, not knowing what they were, tried to convert them into war horses. As the story goes, the more the horses were beaten, the more they would dance, their dancing infuriated their new owners, so they beat them more, causing them to dance even more, until they were eventually beaten to death.

    The story can be found in Chinese Culture: a Sourcebook.
    Last edited by JBI; 10-13-2012 at 07:34 AM.

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