Animal Worlds and Anthropological Machines in Yann Martel’s Millennial Novel Life of Pi

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


A broad range of fields have recently turned attention to the animal. Despite the singular sound of “the animal turn,” attempts to think about animals have persistently proceeded via conceptual pairs. At the heart of this area of inquiry, for instance, Matthew Calarco identifies two core questions: “One question concerns the being of animals, or “animality,” and the other concerns the human-animal distinction” (2). Similarly, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s dramatic declaration of humankind’s “becoming animal” opposes this process to any real form of animal being: “The becoming-animal of the human being is real even if the animal the human becomes is not; and the becoming-other of the animal is real, even if that something other it becomes is not” (238). Most relevantly for the present chapter, Giorgio Agamben distinguishes between modern and ancient “anthropological machines,” or conceptual mechanisms for producing human-animal difference. Agamben’s anthropological machines not only come in a pair, but also give an explicit and detailed account of why dualities persist in philosophies of the animal.


Animal Life Infinite Regress Animal World Conceptual Pair Author Persona 
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© Hilary Thompson 2016

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  • Hilary Thompson

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