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Title: Unsettling the Yoke of Humanity: T. C. Boyle's Strange Man, Apes, and Dog Woman
Authors: Wu, Wei-bon
Contributors: 文山評論:文學與文化
Keywords: animality ; domesticity ; feral ; persona-mask ; threshold ; humanity
Date: 2020-06
Issue Date: 2020-11-12 14:30:59 (UTC+8)
Abstract: Through his novella "Wild Child" and a collection of short stories published in the past four decades, T. C. Boyle engages in a train of thought experiments on crossing the threshold between absolute humanity and animality. On one side of the threshold is "humanized man": civilized, socialized, and categorized humans who are purged and cleansed of animality. On the other side is "animalized man": humans affected or shaped by the animality of other species. In "Wild Child" (2010), Boyle reimagines one of the most well-known feral children, Victor, the Wild Boy of Aveyron. Captured as a naked boy running wild in the forest, Victor is brought back to human society but refuses to be domesticated. Boyle's "Descent of Man" (1974) marks another level of interconnectedness between the human race and another species. The story portrays a woman falling in love with a "humanized" erudite chimpanzee named Konrad, who reappears in "The Ape Lady in Retirement" (1988), in which he is transformed into something between chimp and man. In "Dogology" (2005), the heroine Cynthia literally roams among a pack of dogs. By correlating Boyle's human-animal stories, this paper aims to demonstrate that the "strange" characters' ferality holds the key to destabilizing anthropogenic essentialism, defying compliant domestication, and breaching the nature/nurture divide.
Relation: 文山評論:文學與文化, 13(2), 183-207
Data Type: article
DOI 連結: 
Appears in Collections:[文山評論:文學與文化 THCI Core] 期刊論文

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