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The Lives of Animals
J. M. Coetzee
Edited and with an introduction by Amy Gutmann

Book Description | Table of Contents


"The Lives of Animals is a stimulating and worrying book. It is hard to imagine anyone coming away from it without a new perspective on our relation not only to animals but to the natural world in general, and, indeed, to ourselves."--John Banville, The Irish Times

"I found The Lives of Animals a genuinely troubling book. . . . I imagine that Coetzee feels the force of almost all the ideas and emotions that his characters express. He is working and living at the edge of our moral sensibilities about animals."--Ian Hacking, The New York Review of Books

"There is a general message that resonates throughout this novella, and one that I found quite compelling. It is that we often assess our relationships with animals based on whether they have human-like mental status, like rationality or self-consciousness, and if they don't, then we feel justified in using them as objects . . . I found the book deeply disturbing . . . [It] offers a passionate and compelling look at one side of the debate."--Asif A. Ghazanfar, Nature Neuroscience

"A little-known but brilliant tour de force. . . . It's the most artful, thoughtful piece of writing I've come across on the subject of animal rights."--Marni Jackson, The Globe and Mail


"Coetzee stirs our imaginations by confronting us with an articulate, intelligent, aging, and increasingly alienated novelist who cannot help but be exasperated with her fellow human beings, many of them academics, who are unnecessarily cruel to animals, and apparently (but not admittedly) committed to cruelty. The story urges us to reconceive our devotion to reason as a universal value."--From the introduction by Amy Gutmann

"Magnificent. . . . Coetzee's powerful and subtle text is irreducibly about real animal suffering, but it is also about much more."--Phil Baker, Sunday Times (London)

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File created: 4/21/2017

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