The Culture of Using Animals in Literature and the Case of José Emilio Pacheco

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CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, Vol: 2, Issue: 2

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Malamud, Randy
Purdue University (bepress); Purdue University Press
Arts and Humanities; Comparative Literature; Critical and Cultural Studies; comparative literature
article description
In his article, "The Culture of Using Animals in Literature and the Case of José Emilio Pacheco," Randy Malamud argues that the animal poetry of Mexican writer José Emilio Pacheco, compiled in his 1985 collection Album de zoología (trans. 1993 by Margaret Sayers Peden as An Ark for the Next Millennium) embodies a vast literary account of a range of animals. This book represents one of the most extensive treatments of animals by any modern poet, and one of the most sensitive and ambitious attempts to craft a discourse that facilitates an approach to animals on their own terms -- representing their authentic existence and consciousness, in a poetic that assumes and preserves the integrity and dignity of the subjects, and unlike most representations in culture and literature which clearly exploit or coopt animals in the service of our own aesthetic agendas. Malamud situates Pacheco's poetry against an unrelated but provocative strain of Mesoamerican spirituality, one that embodies a fervent conviction in the integrity and the importance of animals and "animal souls," suggesting a template for a potentially compelling trope that will allow people to regard animals in ways that transcend our cultural preconceptions.