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Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature

Imperial Beast Fables

Animals, Cosmopolitanism, and the British Empire

Authors: Nagai, Kaori

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  • Offers innovative interpretations of the fable genre, with emphasis on the non-European fable tradition
  • Discusses literary texts by well-known authors such as Rudyard Kipling, Edward Lear, and Robert Browning, alongside less canonical examples
    Investigates the intersection between postcolonial studies and animal studies     
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About this book

This book coins the term ‘imperial beast fable’ to explore modern forms of human-animal relationships and their origins in the British Empire. Taking as a starting point the long nineteenth-century fascination with non-European beast fables, it examines literary reworkings of these fables, such as Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books, in relation to the global politics of race, language, and species. The imperial beast fable figures variably as a key site where the nature and origins of mankind are hotly debated; an emerging space of conservation in which humans enclose animals to manage and control them; a cage in which an animal narrator talks to change its human jailors; and a vision of animal cosmopolitanism, in which a close kinship between humans and other animals is dreamt of. Written at the intersection of animal studies and postcolonial studies, this book proposes that the beast fable embodies the ideologies and values of the British Empire, while also covertly critiquing them. It therefore finds in the beast fable the possibility that the multitudinous animals it gives voice to might challenge the imperial networks which threaten their existence, both in the nineteenth century and today.   


About the authors

Kaori Nagai is Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Kent, UK. She is the author of Empire of Analogies: Kipling, India and Ireland (2006). She has edited Rudyard Kipling’s Plain Tales from the Hills and The Jungle Books for Penguin Classics, and is the co-editor of Kipling and Beyond (2010), and Cosmopolitan Animals (2015).   


Reviews

“This innovative and interdisciplinary volume revises conventional understandings of the animal fable in the context of the British Empire and its politics of race, nation, and species. Combining postcolonial approaches with recent advances in human-animal studies, it shows how animal fables by Chandler Harris, Kipling, Chesterton, and others are intricately linked with issues of cross-cultural identity and language that both unite and separate humans and non-humans. It is a much-needed and timely volume.” (Jopi Nyman, Professor of English, University of Eastern Finland)

“In a time of mass extinctions, talking with animals has never been more urgently necessary. What would animals say if we knew how to listen? The beast fable has been dismissed as an allegorical screen for human concerns. Yet what if this genre, in which animals speak, were offering an instance of a possible hearing of a subaltern animal encountering? Buried within imperial histories lie other stories—indigenous, folkloric, animalcentric—that provincialize the European and the Human.   Kaori Nagai unleashes the radical possibilities of beast fables for animals.” (Donna Landry, Professor of English and American Literature, University of Kent, UK, and author of Noble Brutes: How Eastern Horses Transformed English Culture (2008))

Table of contents (7 chapters)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $79.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-030-51493-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-030-51492-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Imperial Beast Fables
Book Subtitle
Animals, Cosmopolitanism, and the British Empire
Authors
Series Title
Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature
Copyright
2020
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-51493-8
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-51493-8
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-030-51492-1
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIII, 252
Number of Illustrations
7 b/w illustrations
Topics

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