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Thread: Animals in Literature/Art

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    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    Animals in Literature/Art

    how well or not are they depicted in Literature or Visual Art?
    is there a story that springs to mind that could be the representation of animal and human relationship through literature?
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

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    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    There must be thousands of examples - mankind's relationship with animals goes back to the dawn of time.

    I'm not an animal lover, but I found the storyline about the dog in I Am Legend very moving. The way in which Neville imbues the stray dog he sees, the only other living thing in the world except himself, with all his hopes and desires was prfoundly affecting.
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    I'm reading "The Little Friend" by Donna Tartt at the moment, and snakes play a big part! The relationship between snakes and humans is, as usual, portrayed as a difficult one There are lots of references to "The Jungle Book" and other Kipling tales - he was the master on animal/human relationships, surely! There's also a very touching section on the death of a beloved cat. Here the love of girl for cat shows up the lack of love of mother for girl. Even more touching is the death of the beloved dog in Milan Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", probably because we get to know the dog better - there the dog plays the part of "constant lover" to the female owner, providing the contrast to her Don Juan husband. Animals are very good at representing a constant, unrequited love that makes no demands - and provides a contrast to the uncountable human failures in this area. Or in the case of snakes, we see that "snakes are bad", but humans are a whole lot worse...

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    Translator Mohammad Ahmad's Avatar
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    There are many ancient Arab books talked about the relationship between animals and the human, most of them imitated animals to draw attention for other public issues such as to represent those dealt with animals to be the playwright characters referring to something of life purpose and especially to something can't be overtly announced, also in the field of children stories.. most famous book of those as I picked from the Syriac language is ( cerita and dominica) two fox brothers.
    Many alike those stories sources are Persian or Indian.
    I myself posted a long poem in this forum " the hen that adopted an ostrich nestling"
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    Vidas Secas by Graciliano Ramos is a novel that the narrative is told by the point of view of a dog (Baleia) who follows a poor family by brazilian countryside. But it is a realist book, so her 'point of view" is more similar to positioning the "camera" on her eyes and this works to make the theme (the povertry and the exclusion of this family from society) more intense, with a grit language and little dialogue.

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    Tidings of Literature Whosis's Avatar
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    I can't think of many classics that have pets in them offhand.

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    Seasider
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    Tarzan of the Apes by Burroughs
    The Black Cat by Poe
    White Fang by Jack London
    The Call of the Wild by Jack London
    Animal Farm by Orwell
    Travels with a Donkey by RL Stevenson
    The Jungle Book by Kipling
    Mowgli by Kipling
    The Lost World by Consn Doyle
    Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

    Must be more.

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    Registered User kittypaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacian View Post
    how well or not are they depicted in Literature or Visual Art?
    is there a story that springs to mind that could be the representation of animal and human relationship through literature?
    Animal Farm by George Orwell.
    Everyone finds himself in the world where he belongs. The essential thing is to have a fixed point from which to check its reality now and then.
    Ancient Egyptian Inner Temples

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    Hemingway comes to mind first: The Marlin and the Sharks in Old Man and the Sea. Bullfighting in several works.

    What about Moby Dick?

    In these and others, literature considers that primal connection of man to animal, struggling simultaneously against nature and eachother. If done well, it's an effective way to connect reader to work at a deeper level.

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    Richard Adams's Watership Down come to mind first. Anthropomorphised community of rabbits with their own culture, language, proverbs and mythology.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JHG View Post
    Hemingway comes to mind first: The Marlin and the Sharks in Old Man and the Sea. Bullfighting in several works.

    What about Moby Dick?

    In these and others, literature considers that primal connection of man to animal, struggling simultaneously against nature and eachother. If done well, it's an effective way to connect reader to work at a deeper level.

    "Call of the Wild" by Jack London is another great example of this genre.

    "The Collector of Lost Things" by Jeremy Page also covers this ground, but is largely concerned with how man has driven some species to extinction.

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    Horses & ponies make a lot of appearances in Victorian novels, but usually pulling things, and with little more impact & character than cars in the modern novel. The most memorable "working pony" I can think of is Whisker in "The Old Curiosity Shop" by Charles Dickens.

    Other memorable Dickens animals:

    Grip the Raven in Barnaby Rudge

    Bullseye - Bill Sykes' dog in Oliver Twist (part of Dickens' attempt to make Sykes the ultimate villain - not only cruel to women and children but dogs as well!)

    Other authors:

    R.L. Stevenson - That parrot in Treasure Island, a pirate's best friend.
    Shakespeare - Two Gentlemen of Verona - Crab the Dog (not many animals in Shakespeare - does Bottom the temporary donkey count?) Shakespeare isn't very positive about Crab, accusing him of lack of empathy:

    "LAUNCE: I think Crab, my dog, be the sourest-natured dog that lives. My mother weeping, my father wailing, my sister crying, our maid howling, our cat wringing her hands, and all our house in a great perplexity, yet did not this cruel-hearted cur shed one tear."

    "The cat wringing her hands" is gloriously ironic - as if!
    Last edited by mal4mac; 05-20-2014 at 01:27 PM.

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    Well, you have Flush, Elizabeth Browning's dog. She wrote poem's about him and Virginia Woolf wrote a novel about him. You have plenty of Nightingales (Coleridge, Milton, Keats, Oscar Wilde, Hans Christian Andersen, etc.), you have Argos, the dog of Ulysses, you have a short story by Tolstoy (Kholstomer) who is told by a horse, Horácio Quiroga has one about dogs observing his owner death (La Isolation), Cortazar short about a Tyger Tyger inside a house, Italo Calvino about ants in Argentina, Cormac McCarthy The Crossing first part is all about a guy and a wolf, Leskov has a tale about a bear hunting...

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    Skol'er of Thinkery The Comedian's Avatar
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    Richard Adams, who did Watership Down, also wrote a novel called the Plague Dogs, which features animal protagonists. It's good book.
    “Oh crap”
    -- Hellboy

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    Musn't forget Rocinante (Don Quixote's horse) - this is animal as madcap fun lover, and trouble maker. In one scene Rocinante attempted to mate with some ponies, and their owners started to beat Rocinante. The Don Quixote and Sancho went to help Rocinante but got beaten up themselves. Animals are found a lot in comedy - James Heriot's vet series, P.G. Wodehouse's pig (Empress of Blandings),...

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