The Ape Speaks: Rereading Red Peter in the Twenty-First Century

Timothy C. Baker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Franz Kafka’s ‘A Report to an Academy’ remains one of the central literary examples of the speech of a suffering animal. This chapter discusses contemporary responses to Kafka from multiple species positions. J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello and Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, as well as similar accounts of cross-species fostering, place Kafka’s work alongside encounters with living animals to challenge traditional ideas of narrative. Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals and Yoko Tawada’s Memoirs of a Polar Bear present nonhuman responses to Kafka’s story. In their often-fragmentary narratives and pointed use of intertextual allusions, these novels offer an opportunity to see how literary fiction can reshape questions of suffering and species identification.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWriting Animals
Subtitle of host publicationLanguage, Suffering, and Animality in Twenty-First-Century Fiction
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2019

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Animals and Literature
ISSN (Print)2634-6338
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6346

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).


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