Black Beauty: The Emotional Work of Pretend Play

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


Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, one of the most popular books ever written in the English language, has often been slighted by critics who have dismissed it as merely children’s literature. This chapter argues that the novel is an important statement about animal ethics, drawing upon Donna Haraway’s critique of Derrida’s The Animal That Therefore I Am to assess the significance of the concept of “play.” “Play” describes ways a human being may begin to imagine the perspective of nonhumans through observation and response to their postures, movements, and sounds. Sewell, an astute and sensitive observer of horses, deliberately invites her readers to develop similar perspectives as they “play in horsehood” through reading the autobiography of a horse.


Sewell, Anna Black Beauty Animal autobiographies Play Derrida, Jacques Haraway, Donna 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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