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Humanities 2016, 5(4), 84; doi:10.3390/h5040084

Narrating Animal Trauma in Bulgakov and Tolstoy

Department of English, North Dakota State University, Department 2320, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050, USA
Academic Editor: Joela Jacobs
Received: 5 October 2016 / Revised: 6 November 2016 / Accepted: 8 November 2016 / Published: 15 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
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Abstract

Following the recent “animal turn” in literary studies, which has inspired scholars to revisit traditional human-centered interpretations of texts narrated by animals, this article focuses on the convergence of animal studies and trauma theory. It offers new animal-centered close readings of Tolstoy’s Strider and Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog, paying attention to animal pain rather than seeing it, and the text as a whole, as an allegory of human society. Like many other authors of literary fiction featuring animal narrators, Tolstoy and Bulgakov employ a kind of empathic ventriloquism to narrate animal pain, an important project which, however, given the status of both the animal and trauma outside human language, and thus susceptible to being distorted by it, produces inauthentic discourse (animal-like, rather than animal narration); therefore, these authors get closest to animal pain, not through sophisticated narration, but through the use of ellipses and onomatopoeia. Ultimately, any narratological difficulty with animal focalization is minor compared to the ethical imperative of anti-speciesist animal-standpoint criticism, and the goal is to reconceive the status of animals in literature so as to change their ontological place in the world, urging that this critical work and animal rights advocacy be continued in the classroom. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal narrators; animal studies; human-animal studies; speaking animals; Tolstoy; Bulgakov; trauma theory; Russian literature animal narrators; animal studies; human-animal studies; speaking animals; Tolstoy; Bulgakov; trauma theory; Russian literature
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Andrianova, A. Narrating Animal Trauma in Bulgakov and Tolstoy. Humanities 2016, 5, 84.

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