Introduction: Literary Animals
This introduction examines the way language use and suffering have been used to establish divisions between species in both scientific and philosophical writing, and remain central topics in critical animal studies. Understanding the relation between suffering and language is not only essential for any discussion of the relation between human and nonhuman animals but also for an understanding of twenty-first-century fiction. The introduction argues that contemporary fiction decentres the human subject and challenges anthropocentric perspectives in order to reveal the essential precarity and vulnerability of all living beings. This is demonstrated through a discussion of Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers, as well as texts by Deirdre Madden, Diana Evans, Michel Faber, and others.