Creatures on the “Night-Side of Nature”: James Thomson’s Melancholy Ethics

  • John MillerEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


The Victorian poet and essayist James Thomson was remarkable, above all, for the darkness of his vision; his work, in the words of the novelist George Meredith, was “plucked out of the most tragic life in our literature.” It is precisely because of his distinctive, nihilistic cast of mind that Thomson’s writing comprises a significant contribution to Victorian ideas about animals. Although inevitably it is impossible to disentangle the intellectual from the pathological in Thomson’s melancholia, his fascination with the “night-side of nature” was more than a tragic personal circumstance, but part of a complex, idiosyncratic and evolving philosophy that overlaps in important ways with animal studies as it has developed over the last two decades.


Thomson, James Evolution Melancholy Animal ethics 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SheffieldSheffieldEngland

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