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George Orwell’s Imperial Bestiary: Totemism, Animal Agency and Cross-Species Interaction in “Shooting an Elephant”, Burmese Days and “Marrakech”

Please always quote using this URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-194200
  • This essay argues that Orwell’s representation of animals as companion species offers a strikingly new, as-yet largely neglected view of animal agency and interiority in his work. In “Shooting an Elephant”, Burmese Days and “Marrakech”, the writer’s focus on the social reject is supplemented by a marked sense of community implying human tragedy yet framing it within precariously situated human-animal, colonial or urban-imperial transitions that visualise animals as agents of change and co-shaping species interdependent with the lives of theThis essay argues that Orwell’s representation of animals as companion species offers a strikingly new, as-yet largely neglected view of animal agency and interiority in his work. In “Shooting an Elephant”, Burmese Days and “Marrakech”, the writer’s focus on the social reject is supplemented by a marked sense of community implying human tragedy yet framing it within precariously situated human-animal, colonial or urban-imperial transitions that visualise animals as agents of change and co-shaping species interdependent with the lives of the humans that utilize and domineer them. Animals are required whenever Orwell aspires to shift from isolation to communality, from the self-conscious outsider to the larger realm of ideas framing the world in which his characters strive to overstep the accepted lines of social performance and conformity. Read in and around disciplinary structures of rationalization, Orwell’s animals appear to secure themselves, quite paradoxically, a place within the normative anthropocentric framework excluding them. They extend beyond anthropomorphising or allegorical modes of description and open up bio-political perspectives within and across regimes of knowledge and empathy. Orwell’s writings thus present a challenge to the culturally accredited fantasy of human exceptionalism, collapsing any epistemic space between humans and animals and burying the idea of sustaining radical species distinction.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author: Ralph Pordzik
URN:urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-194200
Document Type:Journal article
Faculties:Philosophische Fakultät (Histor., philolog., Kultur- und geograph. Wissensch.) / Neuphilologisches Institut - Moderne Fremdsprachen
Language:English
Parent Title (English):Anglia
ISSN:1865-8938
ISSN:0340-5222
Year of Completion:2017
Volume:135
Issue:3
Pagenumber:440-466
Source:Anglia 2017, 135(3), 440-466. doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/ang-2017-0045
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/ang-2017-0045
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 82 Englische, altenglische Literaturen / 820 Englische, altenglische Literaturen
Tag:Burmese Days; Georgre Orwell; Marrakech; Shooting an Elephant
Release Date:2020/11/26
Date of first Publication:2017/09/19
Note:
This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht