Animal Book Club discussion

Love in Infant Monkeys
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Books We Want to Read > Can reading fiction about real animals help us understand them?

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Jennifer Molidor (jennifermolidor) | 35 comments Mod
In Lydia Millet's "Love in Infant Monkeys" she fictionalizes the real-life Harry Harlow, who conducted some horrible maternal deprivation tests on infant monkeys. She pens an imagined interaction between monkey and the human source of pain:

"“He saw each infant in the heart of its mother, precious, unique, held so close because the mother was willing to die for [him]… All she wanted was the safety of her infant. She would chew off her feet for it. She would do anything… When he took the baby from her arms, her panic rose so high it could rise no higher; if she knew how to beg she would beg till the end of the world, scream until her throat split. Give me my baby back.”

Does putting animal suffering into literature like that help us understand and come to terms with the terrible suffering animals go through?

This week's book review: Love in Infant Monkeys

message 2: by Robin (new)

Robin Lamont | 7 comments Yes, yes and yes! In fact, recent neurological studies are showing that the brain is actually changed while reading fiction that engages. Martha Nussbaum writes in her book Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life that fiction cultivates the imagination, which she argues deepens our capacity for moral reflection and affords us a visceral opportunity to walk in another’s shoes. Any time a reader connects with the emotions of an animal will deepen his or her understanding of animal sentience.

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