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Introduction

  • Claire Nettleton
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)

Abstract

The introduction offers a historical and theoretical framework for the artist as animal myth in nineteenth-century French literature and its significance today. Weaving together the cultural, political, scientific and environmental history of nineteenth-century France with the field of animal studies (from Berger to Deleuze), Nettleton argues that the “artist-animal,” an embodiment of creative liberation within an urban setting, is a paradigmatic trope of modernity. Industrial and urban development coupled with Darwin’s theory of evolution caused citizens to reconsider their relationship with other forms of life. While inducing anxiety about traditional humanist structures, this crisis of the human subject contributed to groundbreaking literary and aesthetic transformations in which animals play a central role. In readings of works by the Goncourt brothers, Zola, Laforgue, Mirbeau and Rachilde from the Second Empire (1852–1870) to the Belle Époque (1871–1914), Nettleton uncovers to what extent the trope of the “artist-animal” is revolutionary within its own time frame.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire Nettleton
    • 1
  1. 1.Pomona CollegeClaremontUSA

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