The Artist as Animal in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

  • Claire Nettleton

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Claire Nettleton
    Pages 1-37
  3. Behind Bars: Artists and Animals of the Second Empire

  4. The Decadent Animals of the Third Republic

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 239-241

About this book


The Artist as Animal in Nineteenth-Century French Literature traces the evolution of the relationship between artists and animals in fiction from the Second Empire to the fin de siècle. This book examines examples of visual literature, inspired by the struggles of artists such as Edouard Manet and Vincent van Gogh. Edmond and Jules de Goncourt’s Manette Salomon (1867), Émile Zola’s Therèse Raquin (1867), Jules Laforgue’s “At the Berlin Aquarium” (1895) and “Impressionism” (1883), Octave Mirbeau’s In the Sky (1892-1893) and Rachilde’s L’Animale (1893) depict vanguard painters and performers as being like animals, whose unique vision revolted against stifling traditions. Juxtaposing these literary works with contemporary animal theory (McHugh, Deleuze, Guattari and Derrida), zoo studies (Berger, Rothfels and Lippit) and feminism (Donovan, Adams and Haraway), Claire Nettleton explores the extent to which the nineteenth-century dissolution of the human subject contributed to a radical, modern aesthetic. Utilizing these interdisciplinary methodologies, Nettleton argues that while inducing anxiety regarding traditional humanist structures, the “artist-animal,” an embodiment of artistic liberation within an urban setting, is, at the same time, a paradigmatic trope of modernity.


nineteenth-century French fiction animal studies animals and literature avant-garde artists literature and science Darwin's theory of evolution modernity urban studies ecocriticism

Authors and affiliations

  • Claire Nettleton
    • 1
  1. 1.Pomona CollegeClaremontUSA

Bibliographic information