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Poor, Bare, Forked: Animal Happiness and the Zoographic Critique of Humanity

Poor, Bare, Forked: Animal Happiness and the Zoographic Critique of Humanity

Chapter:
Chapter Three (p.127) Poor, Bare, Forked: Animal Happiness and the Zoographic Critique of Humanity
Source:
The Accommodated Animal
Author(s):
Laurie Shannon
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226924182.003.0004

In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear considers the naked Edgar to be mad, that the unaccommodated man has dissolved into nothing but a “poor, bare, forked animal,” a statement which is, in essence, a comparative reference between humans and the bodily forms and natural capacities of nonhuman animals. Lear’s lament offers a natural-historical account of human estate, a tradition that this chapter aims to explore. The chapter argues that the discourses more commonly known today as “the happy beast tradition” are given with a more scrutinizing eye as to their actual criteria and the rationales given for animal happiness. The chapter examines the traditions conveyed by Pliny and Plutarch, as well as the responses made in Gelli’s La Circe and Montaigne’s “Apologie.”

Keywords:   King Lear, Shakespeare, nonhuman animals, human estate, happy beast tradition, animal happiness, Pliny, Plutarch, La Circe, Apologie

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