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Chapter 6 - Modernist

Invention and Otherness

from Part I - Literary Periods

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2023

Derek Ryan
Affiliation:
University of Kent, Canterbury
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Summary

The making new that is generally seen as definitive of modernist practice covers a range of different ambitions and dispositions. The same mindset is also evident in literary-modernist treatments of animals, despite claims that the "modernist animal" does not really exist. This chapter examines a range of modernist works that advance their own singular zoopoetic insights, through two principal approaches to modernist animal studies. The first, characterized by "invention," comprises the fantastic beasts of Herman Melville (the White Whale), W. B. Yeats (mythological, eschatological, and mechanical creatures), and Djuna Barnes (human-animal becomings), which turn on the notion of hybridity and its multivalent effects. The second, the domestic, is centered on cats and dogs in the works of Virginia Woolf (Mrs Dalloway, Flush), T. S. Eliot (“Prufrock,” Old Possum’s), and James Joyce (Ulysses). Yet these domestic animals are anything but commonplace or pedestrian, in that they reveal the otherness at the heart of companion species. Literary-modernist animals are thus legion, and it is in the dialectic between the fantastic and the domestic that their distinctive particularities can best be understood.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Modernist
  • Edited by Derek Ryan, University of Kent, Canterbury
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Animals
  • Online publication: 26 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009300032.008
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  • Modernist
  • Edited by Derek Ryan, University of Kent, Canterbury
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Animals
  • Online publication: 26 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009300032.008
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Modernist
  • Edited by Derek Ryan, University of Kent, Canterbury
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Animals
  • Online publication: 26 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009300032.008
Available formats
×