Focusing on Franz Kafka’s “Investigations of a Dog” (1922), Samuel Beckett’s Molloy (1955), and Paul Auster’s Timbuktu (1999), this essay reflects on how these works represent the fundamental unknowability of animal perspectives while at the same time suggesting how dogs and humans still remain close. I make the claim that, as with speaking in place of another, speaking for oneself also entails the production of an other, and that these efforts to read and give voices to dogs point toward the rupture of the self-reflective human subject. In featuring their failed attempts to write canines, these works succeed in writing the human ignorance of nonhuman animal worlds, but they also expose the fissure within human autobiography itself.
Dogdom: Nonhuman Others and the Othered Self in Kafka, Beckett, and Auster
Joseph Anderton is assistant professor at the University of Nottingham, UK. He is author of Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure after the Holocaust (2016). His journal articles and book chapters include “Hooves! The Equine Presence” in Beckett and Animals, “Ceremonious Ape!: Creaturely Poetics and Anthropomorphic Acts” in Performance Research, and “The Impulse towards Silence: Creaturely Expressivity in Beckett and Coetzee” in Beyond the Human-Animal Divide. His reviews have appeared in Journal of Beckett Studies and European Journal of Humour Studies.
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Joseph Anderton; Dogdom: Nonhuman Others and the Othered Self in Kafka, Beckett, and Auster. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 September 2016; 62 (3): 271–288. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-3654203
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