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Minor CreaturesPersons, Animals, and the Victorian Novel$
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Ivan Kreilkamp

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226576237

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226576404.001.0001

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Tracking Animal Agency in Conan Doyle and Hardy

Tracking Animal Agency in Conan Doyle and Hardy

(p.133) Chapter Six Tracking Animal Agency in Conan Doyle and Hardy
Minor Creatures

Ivan Kreilkamp

University of Chicago Press

In the late nineteenth century, we begin to see a new representational concern with the problem of animal signification – manifesting itself in a special focus on the animal track, trace, or marking as a form of legible signification. If we turn to fiction of this period, we can see a new interest in animal signification that can be understood in relation to Charles Darwin and Charles Sanders Peirce’s investigations into nonhuman semiotics. Considering a lecture by Thomas Huxley, Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Priory School” and The Hound of the Baskervilles, and several Thomas Hardy novels, this chapter argues that Hardy can be understood as trying to create a novelistic form that might more satisfactorily transcribe nonhuman agency or sign-making – recognizing it as signification – while still respecting or acknowledging its difference. This chapter thus demonstrates the ways later-Victorian novelists struggled to find new ways to acknowledge animal agency, consciousness, and even signification within a literary form (the novel) that remained, at the core, anthropocentric.

Keywords:   justice, Charles Sanders Peirce, language, animal communication, biosemiotics, Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy, animal tracks

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