My inquiry into the role apes play in the imagination of humans began when I asked a group of my students to consider why novelist Daniel Quinn had chosen a gorilla as the mentor and main character in his 1992 novel Ishmael . Some time after this bibliography found a home on the NILAS website, I received a letter from Daniel Quinn confirming that whenever I go to speak, the question 'Why a gorilla?' is invariably asked, so much so that I start every Q&A session by saving someone the trouble of asking it. He went on to say that he had been puzzled why people had focused on 'Why a gorilla?' rather than what he saw as the more relevant 'Why a nonhuman?' He admits he was frankly unaware that gorillas have long been cast in Ishmael-like roles, that by his choice he now belonged to a literary tradition which included more than a remote philosophical connection between Kafka's ape and his Ishmael. Having been sent the link to Apes of the Imagination, he was writing to acknowledge a new appreciation for the importance of his to-that-point unconsidered (but, without a doubt, inspired) choice of a gorilla mentor. I am thrilled that now visitors to Quinn's own website find a link to Apes of the Imagination as part of his answer to 'Why a gorilla?' (Quinn 2003).
Quinn's unconscious choice may have been partially the result of zeitgeist--emerging theories about the relatedness of the great apes to that other ape, the human. Philosopher Barbara Noske, in Beyond Boundaries: Humans and Animals (1997), reinforces primatologist Donna Harroway's observation that among the animals themselves the primates are preeminently the boundary animals, and the discipline of primatology is really about the simultaneous and repetitive constitution and breakdown of the boundary between the human and the animals: that it [primatology] can be viewed as an exercise in boundary transgression (80).
In The Monkey as Mirror: Symbolic Transformations in Japanese History and Ritual , Ohnuki-Tierney explains that throughout Japanese history, the monkey/ape has been seen as both mediator between and threat to the human-animal boundary (6). He contrasts the Judeo-Christian belief that transgressing the demarcation between humans and animals is ... blasphemy to the acceptance of metamorphosis between humans and animals in most other religions (21). No animal is more intimately involved in the Japanese deliberation upon the crucial distinction between humans and nonhuman animals than the monkey, who presses hard at the borderline, constantly threatening human identity and forcing such questions as 'Who are we?' and 'How do we differ from animals?' (21-22). Significantly, the monkey is the only animal addressed and referred to by san [the address used for humans] ... in adult language in Japan (25n).
That association seems consistent in Western traditions as well, explaining why the majority of literary works in which apes other-than-humans figure large are also exercises in boundary transgression and self-examination--in other words, satires. Yet even in these, the most recent example being Will Self's 1997 novel Great Apes, the ape characters, protagonists and narrators, are never simply stand-ins for humans. Instead, through the magic of imagination, they become the subjects of stories that reveal how the animals themselves experience the world and how they organize this experience and communicate about it (Noske 144), allowing them to become both Other and kin for their human readers.
Work after work reveals as well how the ape has been valued or devalued in human cultures and how those human ideas about apes have changed the history of all the great apes. Hans Biedermann's Dictionary of Symbolism tells the reader that:
Various species of apes (Greek pithekos , Latin simia ) were known in the ancient world and were occasionally trained and exhibited in theatrical performances. Ape was a pejorative epithet, and the animal was a symbol of malice and physical ugliness. Nevertheless apes were often kept as exotic pets. It was popularly believed that an ape's eye rendered its possessor invisible, and that an ape's urine, spread on the door of an enemy, would make that person generally hated. In ancient Egypt, apes (long-tailed monkeys and especially caped baboons) were viewed with great respect; Nubian tribes had to provide them as tribute, and it was said ... that they understood human speech and could learn better than many schoolchildren. The screeching of baboons at dawn was interpreted as the pious animals' prayer to the sun-god coming over the horizon. Thoth (Djhuty), the god of wisdom, though usually portrayed with the head of an ibis, also appears as an old white caped baboon, sitting behind a scribe and overseeing his transcription of important texts. The ape was a holy animal in ancient India as well, as is seen from the worship of the apogee Hanuman, who appears in the epic Ramayana as Rama's powerful assistant and emissary. He is the symbol of strength, loyalty, and self-sacrifice. Although Indian farmers suffer from plagues of apes, they eagerly celebrate the festival of Hanuman-Jayanti, Hanuman's birthday. The ape was revered in China as well. In South China and Tibet families proudly trace their ancestry back to simian forefathers who abducted women and had children by them. The ape Sun Wu-k'ung is famous for the acts of bravery and the many pranks he is said to have carried out while accompanying the Buddhist pilgrim Hsuan-tsang on his journey to India.... In the Chinese zodiac the ape is the ninth sign. The ape is a calendar symbol in ancient Mexican cultures also, lending its name (in Aztec Ozomatli, in Mayan Ba'tz) to the 11th day of the month. The ape was a god of dance, and those born under this sign were expected to become jugglers, pranksters, dancers, or singers. In ancient Mexico the ape has a not entirely explicable symbolic connection to the wind. In the ancient Mexican myth of periodic ends of the world, the second era or sun, the wind-sun, was ended by devastating tornadoes, and the humans of this era were transformed into apes.
In Christian symbology the ape is seen negatively, as a caricature of the human and as an emblem for the vices of vanity (with a mirror in its hand), greed, and lechery. Apes in chains symbolize the Devil vanquished. They also stand for uninhibited, filthy humans, a metaphor probably derived from the early Christian text Physiologus, where the ape is portrayed as wicked but also as prone to imitation. The hunter pretends to rub glue into his own eyes, then hides; the monkey descends from the tree and, aping the hunter, glues its own eyes shut, and thus can be easily snared. Thus, too, does the great hunter--the devil--hunt us. With the glue of sin he dazzles the eyes, makes our spirit blind and sets a great snare, ruining us body and soul. In the psychology of the unconscious, the ape is taken to be a symbol of insecurity and doubt about one's own role, as well as of immodesty. In the language of dreams, any species of ape is that which is like the human without being human but which seeks to attain humanity; a person who dreams of an ape approaches this possibility from a starting-point held in contempt (Aeppli). Asian sculptures now sold widely portray three monkeys with their hands over their mouths, eyes, and ears. Although in some countries this is widely taken to mean that it is better to see, hear, and say nothing, this is of course incorrect; it is precisely evil that one is to avoid seeing, hearing, or speaking. These monkeys supposedly originate with simian spies that the gods sent among humans to get information about their actions; charms to ward off this spying supposedly portrayed the monkeys as blind, deaf, and mute. In Japan the three monkeys are also explained by the homonym of the word saru, which means both monkey and not do, thus symbolizing conscious abstinence from evil. (Biedermann 14-16)
Since the Renaissance, artists have been symbolized as apes, after the animal's cleverness at imitation, and they even devised singularities, ornaments and images and furniture that mischievously accepted and played with this identity (see 1740 Chardin's The Monkey as Painter ). But the devil is referred to as the ape of God, mimicking divine creativity with his perverse works (Warner 247). And, interestingly, Byron refers to himself in his role as creative artist as a diabolically grotesque 'ape' or imitator of God (Kenyon-Jones 36).
The devil was called 'the ape of God,' by no less an authority than Augustine, because he imitated the divine blasphemously, through inversion and parody. The word simius, ape, was related by Isidore of Seville in his fanciful etymologies to similies, like, stressing the animal's powers of mimicry. In French, le singe was seen as a meaningful anagram of le signe , and the animal's copycat powers of signifying inspired pleasure, awe and fear: it did not need Darwin to notice the closeness of humans to apes. Naughty monkeys frolic in the margins of medieval manuscripts, playing tricks and filching from unwary travelers, apparently participating in that mark of the human, Baudelaire's satanic mirth. The animal's cleverness at imitation made it a symbol of representation, the symbol for art itself [The point, I believe, of Will Self's 1997 novel] . In the 17th century a fashion for monkey pictures, developed in Italy and Holland, showing monkeys dressing up, reading, painting: the chimpanzee's tea party at the London Zoo, which was a feature of children's treats in the city until 1972, is the direct successor of this comic anthropomorphism. It still continues in television in Britain in the advertisement for PG Tips tea [and in the US in the 1999 sitcom about a TV station run by apes]. (Warner 335-336)
Understandably, apes figured large in the consciousness of Western cultures after Darwin's theories began to work on the human imagination. Gordon Grice explains in his Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators that things scare or repulse us when they are either too human, too like us, or too alien. For example, apes appear in a disproportionately large number of horror fantasies, from The Murders in the Rue Morgue to King Kong. Apes disturb us with their imperfect humanity (72). As Boria Sax points out,
What bothered people was the idea of an ape for a grandfather, an animal that long had had a reputation as amoral and contemptible. The ape was rather an unromantic animal. Fables tended to stigmatize apes for trying to imitate human beings, while legends sometimes made them degenerate people. Apes had a reputation for lacking dignity and morality. Long before Darwin, the essayist Montaigne, chastising human pride, had observed that of all animals the apes, those that most resemble us, were the ugliest and meanest of the whole herd. (Evolution 3-4)
Bellone du Chaillau's
Explorations and Adventures in Equitorial Africa
(1861) reports proudly on
his exploits involving the very remarkable nest-building ape, the Troglodytes caliris , or gorilla, about which very little was known at the time. His armed triumphs over the ape are related in heartbreaking detail, and the reader is further educated concerning their appearance by graphic woodcuts, which depict the animal standing upright over a fallen native while baring its teeth as it approaches its enemy, which is presumably the author. (Alexander 74-75)
That de Chaillau was later discredited by the scientific community did little to diminish the harm done to the gorilla's reputationespecially since the later reports of the explorers and travelers who came after him, looking for sales and a popular audience, confirmed his account (Alexander 75). Perhaps the most famous of these was Richard F. Burton who includes gorilla accounts in both Two Trips to Gorilla Land and The Cataracts of the Nile (1876). Few of them, collecting tales and specimens for zoos and museums seem to have gained the empathy Ethedra Lewis ( Trader Horn , 1927) did when he 'shot a mother .When she was dying she lifted her hand and put it on the baby .No man that's not homo stultus could stand it. I tried to make amends to outraged Nature' (quoted in Alexander 78).
More contemporary is what Cartmill refers to as the killer ape image meant to show humans as sick animals, alienated from the harmony of nature by their own destructive technology found in the writings of many influential modern scientists, writers, and artists (1993: 11-14, 20-24, 211ff; see also Hunting and Humanity in Western Thought, Social Research 62 (Fall 1995): 783). Cartmill mentions in particular Robinson Jeffers, R. A. Dent, and William Golding, but the image figures in Ishmael as well: an advertisement for Goliath at the carnival where the student narrator finds Ishmael/Goliath near the end of the novel is described as more lurid than the rest [of the side show's posters]. It depicted the gorilla brandishing the broken body of an African native as if it were a weapon .the bloodthirsty monster (20).
The image is both speciesist and racist. Charles Kingsley responded to the famine-induced destitution he witnessed in Victorian Ireland: 'I am daunted by the human chimpanzees I saw along that hundred miles of horrible country. I don't believe they are our fault ..But to see white chimpanzees is dreadful; if they were black, one would not feel it so much, but their skins, except where tanned by exposure, are as white as ours' (Cahill 6). Further support can be found in Perry J. Curtiss' Apes and Angels: The Irishman in Victorian Caricature where the escalating harshness of cartoon images of the Irish in London, Dublin, and New York newspapers during the Victorian era is well-documented (The Capitol Sale Catalog [Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, September 30, 2002]: 21).
Although we may not be as upset by the killer ape image or the open sexuality of the great apes as were our Victorian ancestors who reveled in rumors about young ladies being abducted by apes, there is still reluctance to acknowledge how close the kinship is among orangutan, gorilla, chimp, and human. Nonetheless, increasingly, the scientific evidence makes it impossible not to acknowledge, as Marian Scholtmeijer points out in her essay on nonhuman characters in the work of Flaubert and Kafka,
In a post-Darwinian world, all stories are stories about apes told by other apesor at least primates. Implicitly, all stories are about the struggle of a particular species of ape to invent and preserve a nonanimal identity for itself. (What Is 'Human'? 139)
As she goes on to write, Only a few writers consciously incorporate that struggle into the bodies of their texts. Gustave Flaubert and Franz Kafka are foremost among them (139). But they are far from the only writers conscious of the significance of that struggle to the survival of humans and other species. The ape narrators in Flaubert's Quidquid volueris and in Kafka's A Report to an Academy were given voice in order to help readers see that their culture had conditioned them to deny their animality, their essential primate nature, although one sign of difference between Kafka and Flaubertand, I would argue, of cultural progress on thinking about animalsis that Kafka's ape is not a biological hybrid of ape and human, as [Flaubert's] Djalioh is, but an ape who has decided to become human (Scholtmeijer "What Is Human?" 128).
What the Western human culture story defines as human seems to the ape in Kafka a series of tricks suitable for the vaudevillian stage, a kind of overlay willed onto animal nature. The text itself consists of his explaining to a group of scientists how he became human (Scholtmeijer "What Is Human?" 129). Like most of the works of the human imagination included in this bibliography, the tone of A Report to an Academy is ironic and the literary mode it most closely fits is satire, but it is the human animal who is the butt of the jokeand only humans who deny their animal nature. In Flaubert and Kafka, as in the other writers who have created related ape characters, the animal does not represent limitation, lumpish materialism, stupidity as they often do in works by human primates intended to bolster rather than challenge the culture story. Instead, the ape characters stand as a reasonable ontological alternative to the human state, with the power to challenge [human] metaphysical values and thoughts (Scholtmeijer "What Is Human?" 129).
This is precisely the power the American novelist Daniel Quinn gives to his gorilla mentor in Ishmael (1992) and My Ishmael (1997) and the British Will Self gives to his chimpanzee characters and narrator in Great Apes (1997), marking these novels as the latest in the line that begins actually even before the contributions of Flaubert and Kafka. And just as Kafka's vision suggests an evolutionary leap beyond Flaubert's, Quinn's and Self's suggest the continuing process of growth in our cultural thinking about animals and about our own animality. What follows is an annotated bibliography, arranged chronologically, of the stories told in texts and films relevant to this growth. It is my hope that readers will use it--as critic Marian Scholtmeijer has in "Animals and Spirituality" (cf. Entry 1992 Ishmael for extensive quote).
Recent scientific studies of ape behavior confirm that much of what had been assumed to be anthropomorphized or fantasy in fiction's depiction of apes is closer to the reality that earlier scientific assumptions could admit. Philip Armstrong's What Animals Mean in the Fiction of Modernity (2008), in a section titled The Island of Doctor Yerkes, goes so far as to state that The shift in representations of human-animal relations during the twentieth century can be measured in reference to one speciesthe gorillaindeed in reference to one gorilla narrative, King Kong. He finds Barbara Creed's 2007 essay What Do Animals Dream Of? Or King Kong as Darwinian Screen Animal particularly helpful because it traces how the changes in Kong's characterization over seven decades derive from an equally marked alteration in perception of the great apes, resulting not just from the influence of environmentalist thought but more specifically from the work of primate researchers, both in the field and in laboratories, giving us a detailed examination of the interconnections between primate-themed fictional narratives and scientific study of the great apes in the last century (200).
The importance of story in establishing and changing the attitudes of a culture
make understanding the status of an animal in literature particularly important
for students of animal/human relations attempting to better the lives of
nonhumans and humans alike. As Robert Michael Pyle puts it In the Shadow
of Jane Goodall:
Children's [and adult's] stories about animals are often faulted for being anthropomorphic, or mere human projections. The danger of this lies in reducing animals to our own amplitude of motive by giving them human traitsbig bad wolves, wise owls. But I believe that children [and, he might add, adults touched by Ishmael's teaching] relate to these fabulous animal characters more than to plain descriptive accounts. Because they're more accessible, these compelling stories can teach more of how real animals might behave. In Grahame's Wind in the Willows , Rat and Mole have human speech, but behave like their animal namesakes. Thornton Burgess's Grandfather Frog may have worn a waistcoat, but he also did what frogs do. After all, emotion, play, and intelligence did not arise with us. Jane's work with the chimps demonstrated this conclusively. In giving them names and viewing them as personalities, which they patently possess, she mortally punctured the self-serving view of the world as a human-centered place. Maybe imagination is as good a way as science for individuals to discover this for themselves. (43)
the devil resembles the monkey in that he has no scripture (caudex, i.e., codex), and thus the ape/monkey symbolizes base forces, the devil in disguise. The much maligned animal appears in medieval art as a symbol of sin, malice, cunning, and lust (Benton 89-90).12th century (See 1994, Salisbury) c. 1425-50 (French, Burgandy) Monkey Breaker . Silver, gilt, painted enamel. Cloister Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
It is true that Caliban shares his tempestuous island with monkeys and that he worries that Prospero will magically transform him into an ape with a forehead "villainous low."But these primates belong to an Aristotelian zoology, closed before the opening of Africa , lacking any reference to the humanoid great apes of that continent: the chimpanzees, bonobos (sometimes called pygmy chimps), and gorillas. (15)
Like the European characters in The Tempest, we are [still] perfectly convinced that our little drama is the only one that matters, that our little island has space for only a single species, that our little universe contains the sole important reality and ethical significance.He writes:
Caliban knows better. (86)
Before Europeans came to the island, Caliban was mute--capable merely of "gabbling" like an animal or, to recall the words of Prospero's daughter, Miranda, "a thing most brutish." Out of pity Miranda taught him language, and Caliban became one of the most eloquent characters in the drama. [He is also the only character who speaks both verse and prose. The Europeans are limited by class: aristocratic characters speak only in verse, while lower class characters express themselves entirely in prose.] . Language endows Caliban with great dramatic power. And it emphasizes for us the paradox of his treatment by the Europeans. He talks entirely like a person, like an intelligent and refined fellow European; but the Europeans continue to regard him as a slave or animal, an irritatingly contentious piece of property that can be bought and sold and owned and used, a strange and deformed brute who by his very nature is [like Wu Chang's Monkey(1659)] "deservedly confined into this rock." (Peterson 223)Peterson's conclusion is that this attitude exactly parallels "The fundamental paradox of our treatment of the great apes in general and of chimpanzees in particular" (223). The final words in his Visions of Caliban are: "Prospero and Caliban are, we recognize at last, partners and twins, both slaves, both masters. Slavery violates equally the owner and the owned. By enslaving Caliban [the chimpanzee] we enslave ourselves. Only when we free Caliban will we free ourselves" (310).
Different as they are, both of these bronzes reflect the period's growing interest in primates. They stand on the threshold between the singeries of the eighteenth century and the very different perceptions of the late nineteenth century, when Darwin had narrowed the gap between humans and apes (Lippincott and Bluhm 95; illustration 95).1837 Alexandre-Gabriel Descamps. French. The Experts. Oil on canvas. 18½ x 25 ½ inches. The metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
Fremiet's sculpture depicts another [besides Poe's orangutan] criminal ape, this time a gorilla. Information about gorillas reached Europe in the 1850s, and they were soon competing with orangtutans for the title of 'scariest living arthropoid' in the human imagination. Fremier made his first sculpture of a gorilla dragging off the body of a woman in 1859. In this later version, the gorilla has captured a live female, and the mystery is not 'whodunit' but 'why?' The sculptor provides some ambiguous clues. The wounded gorilla carries a rock, so it may be fleeing a conflict. The woman is young, naked, and struggles ineffectively . A snake slithers out of a crack in the rock of the bas. It might suggest a jungle environment, or a fall from innocence.
Contemporary critics interpreted the scene as a rape. This readingthe King Kong versiongained strength from ideas about race and gender that we find abhorrent today, but which were widely accepted as 'scientific' in the late nineteenth century and beyond .Thus the notion of a gorilla consumed with passion for an African woman (just one step away on the hideous evolutionary ladder) seemed feasible.
Fremier himself countered the rape story by stating that his gorilla is a female. If so, her motive is hunger, and murder and cannibalism would be her crimes. Ironically either interpretation would represent an advance inhuman understandings of primate psychology, by acknowledging that such animals were capable of feeling and independent action, and (think of the gorilla's rock) were intelligent enough to use tools or weapons deliberately (Lippincott and Bluhm 134; illustration 135).1888 Harry Prentice. The King of Apeland: The Wonderful Adventures of a Young Animal Trainer. New York: A. L. Burt.
Actually Tarzan first appeared in a short story in 1912 in a magazine called All Story ; once the novel appeared, 24 Tarzan novels followed. David Arthur Jones, in a comprehensive essay on the ape in Burroughs' Tarzan series, asserts that the ape is the central character in the Tarzan Series .It is a basic relationship with apes, or with ape-like creatures, that must be considered absolutely fundamental to a complete understanding of Tarzan and, perhaps in some ways, an understanding of the entire Burroughsian world (1).
Certainly no earlier literary treatment allowed the gorilla to be seen as such a complex and sympathetic character, and the popularity of the series undoubtedly influenced the popular view of them. Particularly important is the range of personality types found among Burroughs' gorilla characters. Kala, who, having lost her own infant, eagerly adopts, nurses, protects and teaches the orphaned white ape, John Clayton, Lord of Greystoke, is undoubtedly meant to invoke comparisons with the wolf mother of Romulus and Remus. However, she evokes reader empathy as her more famous predecessor does not (although allusions to Kipling's Jungle Books and presenting Tarzan as Kala's "best beloved" suggests Kipling's more sympathetically presented wolf parents were consciously on Burroughs' mind). In contrast are old Kerchack who killed Kala's original infant and her mate Terzok who hates the adopted white ape and remains his arch enemy through much of the novel, coming closest to revenge when he carries away Tarzan's mate-to-be, Jane Porter, to "a fate a thousand time worse than death." These primates are, in other words, as fully developed as characters as are Burroughs' human creations, interacting in Tarzan's life as fully, if not more fully, than do most humans he encounters in the novel. Some, like Kala and Terzok even have whole chapters devoted to presenting their points of view and perspectives, not only on Tarzan's life, but on their own ape dramas. This actually calls into question theories like Berglund's which claims that [t]he immediate vision of the book figures these ideogogical correlatives --emperialism, idealism, mimeticism, monoculturaliztionthat sustain a tradition of Commonwealth history (55).
To be fair, Burroughs does differentiate these apes from ordinary gorillas: they are "of a species closely allied to the gorilla, yet with more intelligence, which with the strength of their cousins, made [them] the most fearsome of those awe-inspiring progenitors of man." Actually, the gorillas who attacked and killed Tarzan's human parents are "the deadly enemies of his [adoptive] tribe." Kala herself, but nine or ten when she adopts Tarzan, " was large and powerful--a splendid, clean-limbed animal with a round, high forehead, which denoted more intelligence than most of her kind possessed. So, also, she had a greater capacity for mother love and mother sorrow." (One almost suspects Burroughs had at least imaginatively happened upon the prototype of the close relative of the chimpanzee, the bonobo!)
The reader learns that Tarzan means "white skin" in the language of these super-apes, a language they use to communicate daily but also use to tell stories which pass both new information and rituals from generation to generation. This is often overlooked by critics commenting on Tarzan teaching himself to read and write from the books in his parents' hut. Berglund assumes that Tarzan intuits writing is a product of humans yet refrain[s] from using it with the native humans because he is, at heart racist and senses an inherent connection between the written word, the self-created English book and whiteness (60). Actually, he probably is aware the natives, whose oral culture is familiar to him, simply do not read, making it as useless to share the books with them as with the apes he respects.
When Kala is killed by a poisoned arrow, Burroughs shows Tarzan grieving as any man would for a beloved mother, but he also reveals that Tarzan's aesthetic sense has been affected both by nature (attraction to Jane) and nurture: "What though Kala was a fierce and hideous ape! To Tarzan she had been kind; she had been beautiful." Without question, Burroughs' fiction remains essentially focused on the human, ascribing most of Tarzan's finer senses and impulses to his being human (and aristocratic!). But readers nourished on his empathetically presented apes and his frequent editorializing on the false boundaries erected between humans and other animals, would be especially open to the work of Goodall, Fossey and Galdikas that has fueled the current drive for equality under the law for all the greater primates (see Peterson and Wise).1915 Edgar Rice Burroughs. Jungle Tales of Tarzan. New York: Ballantine, 1963.
This fifth novel in the Tarzan series is of particular interest because in it Akut, a gorilla from Tarzan's adoptive band, serves as the mentor of young Jack Clayton, Tarzan's and Jane's only child, after the boy rescues the captive ape from life as a circus performer in London. The two embark for Africa where Jack intends to return Akut to his people. When circumstances lead Jack to return with Akut, the boy is quick to answer the call of the wild. In fact, this novel is really Burroughs' Call of the Wild , just as the original Tarzan is his White Fang .
Showing himself the true son of Tarzan, he becomes Korak which, in the language of the apes (a tongue for which the boy has a natural aptitude), means Killer. Here, as is not so evidently the case in earlier novels, the ape is a speaking character: "The language of the great apes is a combination of monosyllabic gutturals, amplified by gestures and signs. It may not be translated into human speech." Burroughs uses the adventure of the two to force his readers to recognize the remarkable similarities between the two primate species as well as the crucial differences. The maturing Korak is more and more attracted to the girl he rescues, fortuitously revealed to be the kidnapped daughter of a French nobleman and a suitable mate for a Lord of England. But Akut's sexual interest is also aroused by one of his own kind. He finds the human Meriam too "smooth and hairless," "snakelike," and "unattractive," while the "true feminine beauty" of his own species lies in the "great, generous mouth; lovely, yellow fangs, and softest side whiskers." No interspecies sex despite clear similarities!1917 Franz Kafka. A Report to the Academy. The Complete Stories . Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. New York: Schocken Books, 1971. 213-225.
The story and its narrator, Red Peter, play a crucial role in a lecture being delivered to an academy by the main character in J. M. Coetzee's 1999 The Lives of Animals . Her point is that Kafka intended his character to be understood, not as a "defective human being" but as "a branded, marked, wounded animal presenting himself as speaking testimony to a gathering of scholars." It is toward that end that Coetzee's readers are asked to understand the "arduous descent from the silence of the beasts to the gabble of reason" that the experimental ape took upon himself. Kafka, whom Coetzee sees as playing a similar scapegoat role in the Europe of his time, was not unaware of the parallels between the ape and his fellow Jews, but Coetzee's text speaks of the nonhuman--not of members of human minorities--as the real scapegoat in human history.
Other critics have suggested that 'A Report to the Academy' seems to be a communication seeking to establish a contrast between two life forms in an objective fashion. After all, it is crafted as the presentation of a learned paper before a scientific society, a paper in which the deliverer is engaged in describing his former life-style as an ape. The chronological distance between the life reported upon and the actual life of the reporter may be shortjust five yearsbut it is in fact a chasm, for, as its author points out, 'an infinitely long time [in which] to gallop at full speed' had indeed transpired. And this is a gap equivalent to the ape's humanization. The instrumentality required to bring this qualitative change was precisely the ape's refusal to be 'stubbornly set on clinging to my origins, to the remembrances of my youth.' But is this not the same as having broken the lived continuity of the ape's life? Is this not precisely the reason for autobiography having in this case been transmogrified into a scientific report? In other words, the ape has become a man by having stepped outside his former life and thereby gained the capacitysince the sufficient distance of objectivity had thus been brought into beingto speak of an ape's life in a detached, scientific manner. The ape's purpose, namely, 'imparting knowledge,' was accordingly accomplished to perfection.
Yet there are indicationsthe possible product of Kafka's ironic self-distancing from the ape's own self-distancewhich suggest that the humanization of the ape is not and cannot possibly be achieved completely since, in a way, the ape-man mirrors his present companion, 'a half-trained little chimpanzee' that he cannot bear to see, for 'she has the insane look of the bewildered half-broken animal in her eye.' (My italics.) In his present condition, he seems to connect with his companion as his manager relates to him, for the manager 'sits in the anteroom; when I ring, he comes and listens to what I have to say. Nearly every evening I give a performance, and I have a success which could hardly be increased.' (Garcia-Gomez 125-126)Down the street he pointed out a war poster on a billboard. It was a picture of a gorilla making off with a white woman. It said in big black letters: "Save your sweetheart from the Huns! (description of WW I setting in Zane Grey's 30,000 on the Hoof . NY: Harper Paperbacks, 1990: 223.)
...the film was inspired by the then-current interest in the Voronoff theories of prolonging life and youth by the transplanting of animal glands (mostly from monkeys) into human beings. These experiments, well-covered by the press of both continents, had inspired a best-selling novel Black Oxen (later released in movie form early in 1924), as well as the dusting off of an old Marie Corelli novel, Young Diana , which served as a Marion Davies vehicle in 1922.... A Blind Bargain was more outrageously fantastic than either of these:
Robert, a young man down-and-out (Raymond McKee) agrees to submit to an experiment to be performed on him by the eminent scientist Dr. Lamb (Lon Chaney) in return for which Lamb agrees to treat Robert's sick mother. The young man soon realizes that the experiment may cost him his life after he discovers that the hunchbacked assistant (Lon Chaney) of the doctor is really an ape-man, the result of a previous experiment. The ape-man reveals to Robert the doctor's secret operating room and the hideous creatures kept in cages in varied stages of human completion. Dr. Lamb overpowers Robert and straps him to the operating table, after which the ape-man releases a gorilla-like monster who crushes the life out of the mad scientist.1923 Carl Akeley The Chrysalis (bronze sculpture) .
Based on the novel The Octave of Claudius by Barry Plain, the film is basically a free adaptation of Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau with its semi-human horrors, sympathetic man-beast, and grisly climax. It was to become the archetype of the mad scientist movies and it further enhanced the reputation of Lon Chaney... (Clarens 46).
Every other summer or so I reread "His Monkey Wife" and urge others to do so too. The stumbling block has been that the book has been out of print for years . So I am happy to report that Collier's work has just returned to print thanks to Paul Dry Books ($14.95).1931 The Gorilla
The novel is one of the great idiosyncratic comedies in English--a designation, incidentally, that is a literary category in my mind . Suffice it to say that what distinguishes the books in this category is not only that each is so idiosyncratic as to be sui generis, but also that the fulcrum of their comedy is cultural piety and the Western literary tradition .
"His Monkey Wife" is written in high-flown, often urgent prose. It is a love story and concerns Mr. Fatigay, a schoolmaster, and his "petit, dark and vivacious" disciple, Emily: the toast of the British Museum Reading Room and a chimpanzee. As in most love stories there are moments of passionate jealousy, longing, and fierce romantic intrigue, all conveyed with such a fine and delicate sensibility that one should, perhaps, be ashamed of oneself for laughing. But then, as P. G. Wodehouse observed, comedy is "the kindly contemplation of the incongruous."
The original beauty and the beast film classic tells the story of Kong, a giant ape captured in Africa and brought to New York as a sideshow attraction. Kong falls for Wray, escapes from his captors and rampages through the city, ending up on top of the newly built Empire State Building. Moody Steiner score adds color, and Willis O'Brien's stop-motion animation still holds up well. Remade numerous times with various theme derivations. Available in a colorized version (what a monstrosity).
The laserdisc, produced from a superior negative, features extensive liner notes and running commentary by the film historian Ronald Haver ( VideoHound's 161).
Clarens credits Merian C. Cooper, one of America's foremost documentary film makers: While Cooper and Schoedsack were on location in Africa shooting some animal footage for Paramount's version of the Four Feathers (1929), Cooper became interested in the habits of the gorilla. He conceived an idea about an outsized ape of superior intelligence running amok in the city streets of the civilized world. He embellished this concept with a few more specific scenes: the gorilla would fight one of the giant lizards of Komodo (then of widespread topicality because two of the reptiles had been brought alive to New York's Bronx Zoo where, with dispatch, they died); for a climax the gorilla would make one last stand on top the recently finished Empire State Building... (91-92).
There can be no doubt that its Beauty-and-the-Beast leitmotiv formed itself in the core of the original conception. The film opens with an 'old Arabian proverb': 'And the Beast looked into the face of Beauty and lo! his hand was stayed from killing and from that day forward he was as one dead.' It closes with the mournful Dedham, standing to the side of the fallen giant, informing a callous cop that 'Twas Beauty killed the Beast'--and this theme is reiterated and enhanced throughout the film by the secular liturgy of the myth: the golden-haired virgin offered to the barbarous demigod (variously a dragon, unicorn, minotaur or, here, an arthropoid) who is unable to spill this ritual victim's blood, the sacrificial maiden then becoming the prize in a combat between beast and hero (Clarens 93-94).
King Kong (1933) encapsulates these underlying misconceptions [of the 19th c belief that the missing link among Other people in Other places]: this classic film, still one of the most popular ever made, begins as an ethnographic expedition, to find the 'Eighth Wonder of the World.' Kong is once described as an ape in the film, but he is far more deeply anthropomorphized, as a king who is worshipped as a god by the dancing and drumming savages outside his sanctuary. The moment that he desires Fay Wray, King Kong defined for generations of viewers, his tragic, transgressive, beast-like male desire. King Kong is a dark, looming, cannibal giant who snatches tiny victims; like the bogeymen of myths, he changes scale phantasmagorically in the course of the film, all the better to penetrate the innermost corners of the mind. Like ogres and giants in fairy tales, he symbolizes a prior time of greater barbarism that threatens to wreck the civilization of the heroes, exercises an irresistible fascination, but cannot in the end prevail against it. In the course of the film, he changes, however, into a symbol of tragic male bondage and is felled by his own overweening desires. The final icon of the filmKing Kong on the pinnacle of the Empire State Building snatching at aeroplanes like a cat swatting at fliescrystallizes the lure and fascination of the imagined unruly and primitive rampant, the very thrill of the bogey inside us. (Warner 336)
The misestimation of our genetic neighbors in the cinema has never abated since King Kong set the high-water mark for countless scary gorilla movies. Degrading stage acts with live chimps and orangutans dressed in human clothes began in vaudeville and continue today. From the indignities of the organ grinder to Bedtime for Bonzo , primates have never had a chance to be them-selves in our eyes. (Pyle 310). Especially suggestive are Kinnard's observations that "O'Brien's strangely beautiful landscape on the lost [Skull] island" are "based on the eerie black and white drawings of Gustav Dore" (16); that much of the film "is intentionally styled larger than life in order to impart a mythic, timeless structure" (27); and that, in fact, "Everything about KING KONG--the writing, the direction, the acting, and special effects--is larger than life, aiming for a fairy tale, story book quality" (33). See also Mitman, 55-58.1933 Son of Kong
Jungle lord Johnny Wessmuller returns in a hair-raising adventure, the second installment in the MGM series. The Ape Man and his British gal, Jane, see their exotic lifestyle threatened by the arrival of Jane's ex-beau and his ivory-hunting pal. This restored version features Maureen O'Sullivan's long-unseen topless swimming scene. With Neil Hamilton, Paul Cavanagh.
"This was the second MGM Tarzan picture of six starring Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, and since it was the last one made before the Production Code came into full effect, it goes much further in playing up the erotic life of Tarzan and Jane (a practically naked Maureen O'Sullivan) . Jane's skinny-dipping still shocks" (Daly 76).1935 Regis Messac. Le romans de l'homme singe . Les Primaires 10 (66): 324-335; 10 (67): 402-417; 10 (68): 451-464.
A lonely ape-man (Zack Williams) supposedly created by the experiment of a female mad scientist, breaks loose and kidnaps a newlywed bride. Early all-black horror film from the story House of Horror by star Spencer Williams, late in TV's Amos 'n' Andy . The title is a take-off from the successful early mondo movie Ingagi , which had phony scenes of apes abducting topless starlets. Although race movies were made in every genre, strangely, this is one of the very few black-cast horror movies ( Video Hound's 248-249).
Other entries add to our understanding of mondo documentaries of the 1930s in which the hunting and dissecting of wild animals, including the gorilla, were as frequent as the unfamiliar and therefore astounding customs of indigenous peoples (lip-splitting, bug eating). There was apparently as endless an appetite for apes capturing buxom women as today's nature films display for predators chomping on prey. Ingagi , as well as Forbidden Adventure and Bowangi Bowanda , led the way for Kroer Babb's release of Karamoja ( Video Hound's 296).1941 H. A. Rey and Margaret Rey. Curious George . New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Works of science fiction written around the premise of genetic accident exhibit striking similarities, even when the fictional sources of the accident may contrast sharply. Genetic alteration caused by man himself is perhaps the most common subject in biological fiction. Aldous Huxley's Ape and Essence (1948) early raises very disturbing questions about the possibility; and, as more people began to recognize the potential destructiveness of atomic war and radioactive fallout, the 'alteration by warfare' motif became increasingly popular in science fiction. Huxley's novel, like his After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1939) and Wells's The Time Machine (1895), builds on the idea of man's degeneration as a species. Ape and Essence , however, is an even more forceful, more sardonic condemnation of human weakness and stupidity than the two earlier works. Within a 'screenplay' framework, Huxley unfolds his portrait of the human species, whose genetic structure has been mutated by radioactive fallout, rapidly degenerating into bestial, fear-ridden behavior and slavishly devoted to the 'worship of Belial.' In a series of often bitterly satiric scenarios, Huxley delivers a powerful warning of how men, disregarding even their own self-interest, have set themselves in a direction which will lead to their own destruction. Either men, reproducing without limit and plundering their own planet, will eventually starve to death or, more likely, they will turn their own technology loose and ravage the world in a great holocaust.
The pessimism and distrust of technology and science voiced in this novel finds similar, though usually less skillfully crafted expression in many fictional [and filmic] speculations about accidental genetic alteration (Parker 36). Cf. also Stableford 314-315.1949 Mighty Joe Young
Peterson points out that this Universal International film, like so many cinematic comedies that feature performing apes, is less concerned with realism than with entertainment. As a result "the apes are humanized to such an exaggerated and surprising degree that they become central characters in what would otherwise be purely human drama." Here, Ronald Reagan plays Peter Boyd, a "psychology professor," who is engaged to the Dean's daughter. When his paternity is revealed, Dean Tillinghurst breaks the engagement, leading "to a nature versus nurture debate between the dean and the psychology professor." Bonzo becomes the professor's project to prove his nurture hypothesis.
In the end, as we might have guessed, instead of Professor Boyd teaching Bonzo to be more human, Bonzo teaches Boyd to be more human--to descend slightly from his professorial remoteness and to recognize that he really loves the beautiful woman he hired to help him play 'father' to Bonzo, rather than the spoiled and manipulative Valerie Tillinghurst. [Peterson's main point here is that] the exaggerated anthropomorphism leads us into deeper and deeper levels of illusion [that provoke the viewer to ask: If Bonzo is] someone profoundly humanlike and ultimately fragile why is he being treated so much like an animal?" (140-143).1952 Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. Director: William Beaudine. Mad scientist needs human subjects to turn into apes.
The story centres on.a member of the rare (fictional) primate species of the title, who is being studied along with his mate in a zoo enclosure until the military decides to send the ape into orbit in a rocket as part of the space race between the Soviet bloc and the Western allies .Attempting to save 'his' ape from such a fate, [Professor] Darrelhyde appeals to the head of the League for the Prevention of Unkind Practices to Animals who assures him that 'Percy is being sacrificed in a good cause' (Brophy 1953: 65), because the rocket experiments will lead to space stations allowing allies to spy on 'the Ruske' from space .Brophy's satire thus suggests a structural link between the biological ordering of nonhuman animalsinto lists of laboratory subjects sacrificed, taxonomic categories, reproductive statistics, habitat fields, research stations and zoological parksand the administration of human space by the military-industrial complex (Armstrong 187).1953 Phantom of the Rue Morgue
The last book in the Chronicles of Narnia , this is the final confrontation between the forces of evil and good. Once more Aslan and the children triumph, but at a price that may have the listener/reader asking questions. The ape, Shift, gets a lion skin that he drapes over the donkey, Puzzle, and passes him off as Aslan. The killing of the Talking Trees and selling of the Talking Beasts into slavery with the Calormines begins. King Tirian and Jewel, the unicorn, arrive, the King quickly giving himself up to Shift so that he can find out about Aslan. Two children, Jill and Eustace, come to his aid as the sides of good and evil are drawn once more (Apseloff 433). What is significant is that the ape Shift is a negative character who is largely responsible for the fall of Narnia. He and the Cat are, as Blount points out, the only delinquent Talking Beasts:
Shift, who is lazy, artful, ambitious, and greedy, starts by exploiting the gentle donkey Puzzle and goes on to exploit all the other Talking Beasts by working on their simple, loyal credulity. In a way, he is a Beast descending into Humanity, for this is what humans do. Shift even ends by dressing like a human. The Ape's aim is to sell Narnia to Calorman. Only the Cat sees through the Ape's trickery and connives at it, and is punished in the inevitable way by losing the faculty of speech, becoming witless and wild. (302-303)1957 The Bride and the Beast . Weiss.
What would you do if you took your newly-wed wife on a honeymoon and found your pet gorilla making unseemly advances toward her on your wedding night? That's what Lance Fuller didshot the beast! But worse was to come. On honeymoon safari in the jungle, another gorilla kidnapped her to join his male pals in a cave of sin. What's more, she liked it and threw rocks and things at hubby to keep him away (Gifford). Written by Edward D. Wood and produced by Allied Artists, Frank reports that the film is about A big game hunter [who] discovers that his wife is the reincarnation of a gorilla--when they go on an African safari honeymoon [and] she regresses to simian form and rejoins her own people. A really ridiculous monster movie but great (if unintentional) fun. A dreadful warning against marriage if there ever was one. [He quotes:] '...will need lurid advertising to pay off....an odd and unconvincing mixture of hypnotic regression and big game hunting in Africa'. Variety (24).1957 Teenage Zombies . GBM Productions.
speculative fiction adventure with Swiftian social satire (Greene 2). Source of idea for the film series, but quite different from the films. In the novel a manuscript containing the story of three astronauts and a chimpanzee named Hector who reach an earth-like planet in a far off galaxy is found drifting in a bottle in space. The identity of the two travelers who find the tale is kept secret until the final pages of the novel. They are not human as the reader assumes, but chimpanzees, part of the society of higher primates (chimps, gorillas, and orangutans) that rose on Earth after the fall of humans--exactly as the astronauts in the story had found to be the case on the planet they "discover" and are stranded upon.
It is a shock to the two surviving astronauts to find humans, fine physical specimens with no cultural, linguistic, or intellectual attainments, used as experimental animals by the higher, rational apes who have speech. One of the astronauts devolves under the force of the shock. The other, the narrator of the tale, succeeds in convincing his ape masters that he is not like the humans of their planet by revealing his skill with language and technology while a subject in their human language experiments. Although this brings him equal treatment initially, he is soon perceived, as was Gulliver by his Houhyhmn masters, as a danger. With the help of two sympathetic chimpanzee scientists, he escapes with his primitive human wife and their son, managing to get back to the spaceship and return to Earth. In the intervening centuries, Earth has become a mirror image of the planet he has escaped, ruled by chimp intellectuals, orangutan administrators, and a gorilla military.
These make the same arguments in reverse that are current in our own culture now ("Ape is of course the only rational creature, the only one possessing a mind [and a "spiritual essence"] as well as a body;" "The scientists were divided into two groups: those who refused to acknowledge that an animal had a soul of any sort, and those who saw only a difference of degree between the mentality of beasts and that of apes").1963 King Kong vs. Godzilla
"In his last years [Willis] O'Brien toyed with the idea of reissuing KING KONG in a film pitting the giant ape against an animated version of the Frankenstein monster. Attempting to secure permission for the use of the Kong character from RKO, the project was taken out of his hands and licensed to the Japanese Toho Studios, which used O'Brien's concept as the basis for the juvenile film King Kong Vs. Godzilla" (Kinnard 34). Fortunately O'Brien died in 1962, a year before the resulting film was released in the United States.
The planet issues a collective shudder as the two mightiest monsters slug it out. In the Arctic Ocean, Godzilla frees himself from the iceberg prison he found himself in at the end of Godzilla Raids Again, destroys a nuclear sub for a snack, and heads for Japan to raise hell. Meanwhile, on tropical Farou Island, rare medicinal berries cause an ape to grow far beyond Kong size. The president of Japanese drug company (Ichiro Arishima) has the beast captured, with plans to star him on the TV show he sponsors, but the monster escapes en route and swims ashore to raise hell. Kong is subdued by the berry juice and transported to meet Godzilla, in the hope that the two menaces will finish each other off in a grand duel on Mt. Fugi. A co-production between Toho and various American parties, this was the first Godzilla (or King film for that matter) to be shot in color and scope. The f/x are not as good as in sequels to follow, but acceptable-though the Kong costume is horrible. A persistent false rumorthat a different ending was seen in Japan with Kong defeatedmakes no sense, as Godzilla is the villain in both versions. However, Universal drastically changed the original for U.S. release, adding senseless scenes while omitting vital footage, even going so far as to replace the score with stock library music. AKA: King Kong Tai Godzilla ( Video Hound's 161-162).1963 King of Kong Island
Walcott has admitted to drawing in Makak a 'portrait of the black man as an ape, the black man as a savage, the conventional, very hard-to-break, heraldic, inherited view which we were taught in the Caribbean about the African' (Remarks, 24-25). His comment Came in response to Walcott's description of the character called Malak in Dream on Monkey Mountain [based on a man named Malak (Monkey) Roger he knew in Saint Lucia] .he may have worked for somebody called Roger, so people were calling him: Roger's monkey. He would get very drunk. He was an ugly, short, ferocious man . But the central thing, of course, is the figure of the Ape. The African is the ape. The African is the baboon. Tarzan and the Apes. It is not only Tarzan and the apes; it's Tarzan and all of the apes, meaning not only Cheeta, but Cheeta's buddies. Meaning those wild guys coming through the jungle screaming . That's the African we were shown in the Caribbean (Afterword, 272-273). Quoted in Arnold 8-9.1967 King Kong No Gyakashu (King Kong Escapes) Japanese
They didn't have much trouble1970 Trog
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into a chair
then tied his pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
And whispered into his ear:
"You look like a god sitting there.
Why don't you try writing something?"
Sheila Egloff comments that Donovan's novel is descended from Aesop's didactic beast tales and sees it in the mainstream of escape stories. She writes that it follows the experiences of a group of apes fleeing the laboratory experiments in transplants for the betterment of the human race. As didactic as [Adams'] The Plague Dogs [which also takes aim at senseless experimentation of nonhuman animals], it also touts the superiority of apes over humans. Sasha, the commentator, says of humans:
They are taught at the youngest age to see progress in change. It is why they get their education, and subsequently set their minds to improving the world. I dearly love their innocence, it is so sweet and shortsighted. And their great intelligence, it makes them the most stupid of all animals. This is another sad truth that all apes know.
....the group of apes does become a 'family.' In the end they are defeated by hunters and the weather; and the two remaining apes have to return to the experimental station. Donovan's message is clear and simple ( Thursday's Child , 114-115; Worlds Within 260). As Judy Allen-Newberry puts it: Family speaks clearly in behalf of all animals....Sasha [the narrator] best explains Donovan's intentions: 'As I am not by ape-nature reflective, I hope the facts that I recount will speak for themselves' (43). They do.1976 John Goulet. Oh's Prophit . Morrow Press. My thanks to Professor William Washabaugh for this entry (email April 9, 2007).
An expedition looking for oil deposits on an uncharted island finds a giant ape which they trap and bring back to New York. The creature escapes and wreaks havoc until it is killed on top of the World Trade Center. Glossy, overbudgeted remake of the classic King Kong which abandons all the mystery and fantasy of the 1933 original in favor of a facetious and camped up version that never thrills. The special effects are dismal in comparison with its predecessor and, instead of Willis O'Brien's superb animation, most of Kong's appearances here are reduced to Rick Baker running around in an obvious monkey suit (Frank 86).
Kinnard refers to the film, not as "a remake at all, but a spoofy send-up, so corrupt and so diffused by its negative, low-brow 'camp' approach that it completely dissipated the mythic potential of the original material" (32).1976 Wilson Rawls. Summer of the Monkeys . New York: Bantam Doubleday Yearling, 1999.
A fourteen-year-old Ozark farmboy learns an invaluable lesson, not only about monkeys and chimpanzees, but about human values and self-involvement. The novel brings the science and ethics of Jane Goodall to a situation Ishmael might have arranged for a young student deeply influenced by patriarchial values but also possessing the goodness and love necessary to seeing the world anew. Adults will find the novel interesting and moving as wellat least I did.Became the basis of the 1996 film of the same name.
A Warner Brothers film "starring Clint Eastwood and an orangutan identified in the credits as Mantis, another ape comedy classic." Eastwood plays tough guy Philo Beddoe, under whose "chiseled Ice Age exterior churns a New Age male sensitivity" for which Beddoe finds no outlet until he meets "Clyde, the orangutan." Clyde becomes "the barfighter's confidant and foil--at once pet, pal, and sidekick. Late one night Beddoe and Clyde sit together under the stars; the barfighter unburdens himself to the ape: 'I suppose you think I'm crazy, traipsin' across the country after a girl I hardly know. Hell, I'm not like Orville [his best human buddy] . I'm not afraid of any man, but when it comes to a woman, my stomach just turns to Royal gelatin.' Beddoe even takes Clyde to bars for a drink , and in a moment of enormous inspiration decides that Clyde needs a positive sexual experience ('to get laid'), just like any other normal guy, so they break into a zoo and find a female orang for Clyde. Discreetly, we are shown Clyde entering a cage occupied by the female of his choice and then the door slowly closing. Clyde has found his own stuff of dreams" (Peterson 142).
As with the 1951 Bedtime for Bonzo, the film's "exaggerated anthropomorphism" succeeds in leading the audience to ask questions about the ethics of our treatment of "so human an animal." Ironically, Peterson discovered that the ape who played Clyde, Popi, was a featured performer in Bobby Berosini's Las Vegas Chimp Act, the subject of a well-know PETA exposé (Peterson 158ff).1978-81 BJ and the Bear --a TV series in which the Bear is a chimp
Although humans, genetically enhanced dolphins, and other galactic species are featured in this first Uplift novel, one genetically altered Chimpanzee, Dr. Jeffrey appears early in the novel. He is "the first of his species to become a full member of a space research team": "two centuries of genetic engineering had wrought changes in the skull and pelvic arch, changes modeled on the human form . He looked like a very fuzzy, short, brown man with long arms and huge buckteeth" (77). His thumb had been altered but he is still able to communicate only with the help of a computer keyboard. Still he is skilled enough to pilot a Sunship, a solar probe, and has a well-developed sense of self. There is real grief among his various colleagues when "Scientist-Chimpanzee Jeffrey's Sunship [is] destroyed in the chromosphere of [Earth's] Sun!" (110).As it turn out, the tragedy is the work of the Pila Bubbacub, a member of one of the old Galactic races, "a representative" of the prestigious Galactic Uplift Institution, to whom "Jeffrey represented a abomination , a species that had been uplifted a mere hundred years before and yet dared to talk back" even to Bubbacub! (224). He
Hated what chimpanzees represent . Along with dolphins, they meant instant status for the crude, vulgar human race. The Pila had to fight for half a million years to get where they are . (224-225)
For more on Brin's concept of Uplift and its effects on the great apes, see the other novels of the series: Startide Rising (1983), The Uplift War (1987), Brightness Reef (1995), Infinity's Shore (1996), and Heaven's Reach (1998).1980 Michael Crichton. Congo.
Unlike the real Congo, Crichton's Congo is bursting with gorillas. First, there is Amy, a fast maturing female mountain gorilla who is really the novel's leading lady. Amy has, under the guidance of primatologist Peter Elliot and the staff of Project Amy, acquired a signing vocabulary of 620 words. Her dream-inspired finger-paintings, mysteriously reminiscent of a 1642 Portugese print of the Lost City of Zinj, lead to Elliot and Amy joining forces with a field expedition from the Huston-based Earth Resources Technology Services on the trail of rare blue diamonds valuable as superconductors. The expedition encounters both the mountain gorillas with whom Elliot hopes Amy might serve as ambassador and what appears to be a new species of gray gorilla, warrior apes, developed and bred by the people of the Lost City to guard their diamond mines. Apparently after a rebellion against their masters, these gray gorillas continue to protect the Lost City from all who venture too close. Like Amy, these apes sign but use their gestures only to supplement a spoken language that Elliot guesses may be the result of their former masters' primitive experiments in interspecies breeding. Just as Amy represents the good gorilla of contemporary literature, the gray apes represent the fearsome and brutal ape of legend and folk tale--with a typical Crichton twist or two. First, except when their boundaries are threatened, the gray apes are typical peace-loving and family-oriented gorillas. And, second, what will be the effect on the culture of the mountain gorilla when Amy's offspring, fathered by wild gorillas and taught by their mother to sign, interbreed with other wild gorillas and signing becomes part of their culture? Or, indeed, what will happen 'when circumstances may force some human beings to communicate with [nonhuman] primate society on its own terms. Only then human beings will become aware of their complacent egotism with regard to other animals'(253). 1980 The Hairy Ape --based on Eugene O'Neill's play of the same name, the film isn't literally about an ape but about a man with ape-like physical characteristics. Still it suggests the bias humans have against apes.
Big gorilla in the L. A. Zoo1980 The Wild and the Free --two researchers study chimps
Snatched the glasses right off my face
Took the keys to my BMW
Left me here to take his place
I wish the ape a lot of success
I'm sorry my apartment's a mess
Most of all, I'm sorry if I made you blue
I'm betting the gorilla will, too.
They say Jesus will find you wherever you go
But when He'll come lookin' for you, they don't know
In the meantime, keep your profile low
Gorilla, you're a desperado
He built a house on an acre of land
He called it Villa Gorilla
Now I hear he's gettin' divorced
Layin' low at L'Ermitage, of course
The the ape grew very depressed
Went through Transactional Analysis
He plays racquetball and runs in the rain
Still he's shackled to a platinum chain
Big gorilla at the L. A. Zoo
Snatched the glasses right off my face
Took the keys to my BMW
Left me here to take his place
"This story, set in California, is told in the third person by a
twelve-year-old boy named Kriss
"Kriss is hopeless in the woods, so his parents are sending him to camp in his grandmother's backyard near Big Sur. Planning to ride as far as Soledad and then hike the rest of the way on his own, Kriss leaves early and alone for the bus station. He does not have enough money to ride the bus, so he hitches rides and makes it to Route 1, running along the coastline, where he is picked up by a driver in a white van.
"The van contains chimps
from the UCLA Language Lab that can talk in sign
Language. A radio warns that an earthquake is predicted, but Ed, the van driver, says it will only be a little tremor. An enormous earthquake hits, cars are overturned, and the road becomes a mass of tumbled blocks.
"Kriss and the chimps escape from the van and begin walking. Before long one of the chimps is killed when the bank it is standing on gives way. Kriss and the other chimps break into a cabin to get a little food. They are joined by an old Man and meet another chimp from an abandoned pet shop. The old man is ill and Kriss lights a fire to help keep him warm. This attracts a helicopter that rescues Kriss and the old man. The chimps are left behind." ( Exploring the World of Animals [Teacher Ideas Press, 1997] 94).1982 James Blaylock. The Elfin Ship . The Bedlington Ape.
As in Gor's Saga, a sadistic scientist
with a God-complex, seeks to create a sub-human race through combining ape and
human genetic material, suitable for tests of drugs and medical procedures.
Dr. Jenner's experiments are backed by a sinister government agency,
Rather like 'The Shop in Stephen King's Firestarter. Chad is the first successful ape-human hybrid, produced at the Jenner Clinic, a Laboratory masquerading as a fertility clinic. (Embryos of the hybrids Are implanted in the wombs of women clients.) Chad is treated with such brutality that he escapes and massacres everyone at the clinic. An impassioned argument for animal rights, Chimera explores the ethics of cloning, fertility experiments, genetic engineering, and animal experimentation (Blousfiled 4).
Although, as in Sundiver (1980), only one chimpanzee character appears, Charles Dart, a paleontologist, holds his own among Brin's neodolphins, humans, and other less familiar galactic citizens. He is a more central and complex character than Dr. Jeffrey, although their shared characteristics mark each as markedly chimpanzee despite their genetic enhancing. Dart, unlike Jeffrey, can speak ("At his best, Charles Dart sounded like a man speaking with gravel in his throat. Sometimes, when he had something complicated to say, he unconsciously moved his hands in the sign language of his youth"--73). Not a particularly sympathetic character as are most of Brin's chims and neo-chimpanzees, he is obsessed with his work and his self-importance.
While the crew of the Streaker struggles to avoid detection by other galactics in the seas of Kithrup, Dart wants only to explore the subduction zone he has discovered on the planet. In order to reach the depths of the subduction, he plans to split it open with a small A-Bomb, thus endangering the indiginous life on the planet as well as his own crewmates. His determination to have his work recognized as being "on a par with any human!" comes from a sense of ultimate rejection as a scholar. Once he had reached what he had thought of as success--memberships in "all the right professional societies," enthusiastic responses to the papers he presented on earthquake activity in Chile, California, and Italy; and good job offers, it came to him that much of what he'd assumed was acceptance was "tokenism." And that, plus plain old fashioned speciesism, explained why no graduate students sought to study with him when his human colleagues were overwhelmed with eager candidates (397). This may be Brin's way of suggesting some of the problems to be faced should chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas be acknowledged as the equals of humans in our own time.1983 Mr. Smith TV series featuring a talking orangutan. (Balaban)
Features Lamark's Educated Apes, a dozen chimpanzees, dressed and seated at desks, while another, dressed as the professor, teaches the class. Unaware that they are being observed, the apes are in fact in charge of their own behavior and are engaged in discussing a diagram the professor has placed on the blackboard. When the clown Walser, the human observer, is himself observed by the apes, the professor quickly erases the diagram and the group indulge in the antics humans expect of monkeys. The professor quickly puts dunce caps on all, including Walser. As he does so, [t]heir eyes met.
Walser never forgot this first, intimate exchange with one of these beings whose life ran parallel to his, this inhabitant of the magic circle of difference, unreachable but not unknowable; this exchange with the speaking eyes of the dumb. It was like the clearing of a haze. Then the Professor, as if acknowledging their meeting across the gulf of strangeness, pressed his tough forefinger down on Walser's painted smile, bidding him be silent (quoted in Adcock and Simms 220).
Although the novel's main characters are a human, Amanda Jaworski, "a sexy subparticle physicist and 'America's leading lady astronaut'" and her beloved cat, Schrodinger (who is, indeed, alive and dead at exactly the same time!)--and who is, according to Washington Post reviewer Grace Lichtenstein, "perhaps the best-realized animal in recent popular fiction," the brainy chimp 342 is also a fully and realistically realized character who plays a crucial role in the novel's theme and plot. He recalls the chimps used in NASA space experiments as he and Amanda--"'sponsored by the entire military establishment of the United States and utilizing all of technology'"--chase to the moon after Schroedinger. They are finally successful, not because of military might and technology, but because they are protected by "a young boy and a magic ring..and by the cat" himself (Lichtenstein 6).1985 Lillian Hoban. Arthur'a Loose Tooth . New York: Harper Collins.
Findley's novel tells the story of Noah's Ark from the point of view of those creatures Noah did not include among the clean animals. Narrated by his wife's blind cat, who is one of the unwanted, events lead inexorably to the reader's discovery that, far from saving the world, the voyage destroyed what was valuable in the world--enchantment, the unicorn, fairies, and man's sense of unity with the rest of creation. The apes here are the children of Noah and his wife and sons and daughters-in-law who are throwbacks to the evolutionary past they have come to deny. Rather than being bestial, these children are peaceful and loving. And are born under a death sentence, for Noah has decreed that each one shall be destroyed at birth, an order Mrs. Noah has ignored now and then, putting her into the camp of the unwanted along with the cat her husband, the master scientist and rationalist, blinded in an experiment.1986 King Kong Lives
In 2035 the world is populated by computers, smart apes, humans, and talking animals of all species. From this mix, 3, then 12 genius children, only a few human, emerge. Does one of them contain the serpent's egg that will save or destroy the world?1987 Terry Pratchett. The Light Fantastic . London: Collin Smythe.
Dr. Horace Worblehat, a member of a small elite group of senior Librarians of Disk World's Unseen University. He (thereafter called the Librarian) is transformed by a magic spell into a large male orangutan and, discovering that being an orangutan has certain advantages to a librarian, he refused to be transformed back into a human, and has remained an orangutan ever since ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Librarian_(Discworld) ). [H]e has shown considerable interest in the arts, both as a patron and performer and often participates directly, indirectly, or tangentially in the many strange adventure that occur in Terry Practhett's novels (Gwyn 2). He is able to travel through L-space and is an on-going player. He plays major roles in Sourcery , Guards! Guards! , Moving Pictures , Small Gods , Lords and Ladies , Men at Arms , Soul Music , Interesting Times , Maskerade , Hogfather , The Last Continent , The Last Hero , Night Watch , Thud! , and the Diskworld computer game. See Gwyn: one of Terry Pratchett's most brilliant and endearing creations.1987 Project X. Director: Jonathan Kaplan.
An Air Force pilot is assigned to a special project involving chimpanzees. He must decide where his duty lies when he realizes the chimps are slated to die. Peterson describes the film "as an animal-rights fantasy based on a true story" in which the Air Force "subjected at least 3,000 rhesus monkeys to blasts of radiation up to 200 times the standard lethal dose and then observed how well and how long they could perform various tasks while they were dying of radiation sickness." The point was to determine how humans might function under similar circumstances. The film, "produced by Walter Parkes and Lawrence Lasker, substituted chimpanzees for monkeys, recognizing that apes would much more fully communicate their own personalities and potential for suffering. 'This is a film about people coming to grips with the fact that nonhumans have emotions and intelligence, and that therefore we have a responsibility towards them,' said Parkes.
"The central chimpanzee character is a charming young individual, named Virgil in the movie. He has been taught sign language by a beautiful woman scientist (played by Helen Hunt) before winding up in an Air Force laboratory cage that is opened and closed by a pilot on probation for being too much of a hot dog (Matthew Broderick). That a caged chimpanzee can communicate with sign language leads the hot dog pilot to wonder where the animal came from, which leads boy to meet girl and a mutual love interest to develop, which leads the Broderick character to begin 'coming to grips with the fact that nonhumans have emotions and intelligence, and that therefore we have a responsibility towards them" (Peterson 147).
At the end of the film, Virgil and the other chimps [Bluebeard, Ethel, Ginger, Goliath, Goofy, New Recruit, Razzberry, Spike, Winston] fly off in a plane as the flight simulation used in the radiation experiments have taught them to do! They crash in the Everglades, but after the rescue attempts cease, the Hunt and Broderick characters spot the chimps close enough by for her to be able to sign to Virgil "You are free" and for him to respond by leading the others, among them young females, off deeper into the wilderness.
Ironically, despite the pro-chimp messages of the film, Peterson's research provides evidence that the chimpanzees used in the film were mishandled and even beaten by their trainers and that "criminal complaints" were filed "on eighteen felony counts of cruelty to animals against six animal trainers involved in" the Twentieth-Century Fox film (Peterson 148-149).1987 Time of the Apes
After a car crash leaves her in an irreversible coma, 13 year old Eva Adamson wakes up to discover her brain has been transplanted into the body of a chimpanzee. Her father, a chimp researcher, saw the operation as the only hope to save his daughter's life. Having grown up with her father's subjects, Eva in time becomes their champion, determined to save them from exploitation and experimentation and drawn by her new biology to leave the human world and enter the world of the chimpanzee.
"Eva" (Laureleaf, $5.50 paperback) is my own favorite of Dickinson's works. In this provocative tale, the brain of a young accident victim is implanted in the head of a chimpanzee. But Eva is not only an inteligent girl with an exterior now hideous by human standards; she has taken on the primate's sensibility along with its form, and the book becomes a meditation on identity. "What you are is a pattern," Eva realizes, "an arrangement, different from any other pattern that ever was or ever will be." Eva's mother is nearly destroyed when Eva, human brain still active, joins the chimps, but Eva, despite her abiding love for her mother, accepts the primate life and bears daughters of her own. The book presents mother-daughter relationships not chiefly as emotional bonds but as the species' way to educate, to refine--a bold and satisfying bit of feminism. (A. S. Byatt, on first encountering this writer's work, mistakenly guessed that Peter Dickinson was the nom de plume of a woman.) Eva grows old within her tribe. She accepts the implacability of death as instructively as a Tolstoy hero. All this happens, too, under a brilliant surface: the biography of a notable being. (Pearlman N4)1988 Gor (BBC Three-part production based on Maureen Duffy's novel, Gor Saga 1981).
Though he won a Nobel Prize for his genetic research into cures for lethal diseases, Richard Lee has become a recluse. He lives in a walled compound with a strange child, Adam, whom he keeps from all contact with the outside world. Dick, we learn, was fired from a prestigious position at a Cambridge University research institute because of a coalition of religious fundamentalists and animal rights activists. Violent protests erupted when Dick published a paper concluding that a species of chimpanzee is genetically 90% identical to a human being and postulating a common ancestor for both. Adam is the result of Dick's having altered simian chromosomes responsible for the difference between the two species so as to make a chimp's offspring more human. In the near future world of the novel, the existence of humanity is threatened by climatic changes, war, and disease. The dominant species of the future, the novel suggests, will no be humans, but descendents of the chimpanzee. Gribbin is a science popularizer as well as a science fiction writer. Unlike many of the more fantastic uplifted animal fictions, Father to the Man is informed by a knowledge of genetics (Bousfield).1989 Lillian Hoban. Arthur's Great Big Valentine . New York: Harper Collins.
Although no ape actually appears in her novel, Kingston claims I was playing with the idea of the mythic monkey, the saint/trouble maker who brought the Buddist scriptures from India. He stops in China, but I have him continuing until he comes to America in the '60s. You could see it breaking up the order of the Establishment, making chaos and freedom, trying to do things through trickery (Denison 10). Wittman Ah Sing (the obvious allusion to the great American trickster, Walt Whitman, is intentional and telling), the human protagonist of Tripmaster Monkey , is the reincarnation of the mythic adolescent Monkey. Breaking boundaries is his natural activity. One of his Monkey fantasies may perhaps be the source of Simon Dykes' apocalyptic vision in Will Self's 1997 Great Apes : 'The curtain opens...the great killer ape in chains sees the audience.... The chains snap.... Swooping Fay Wray up in his mighty arm, he and she swing across the ceiling of the San Francisco Opera House.... The ape is loose upon America.' ...the proud Chinese King Monkey becomes the hunted King Kong, American movie outlaw beast (Hyde 352). If Wittman has his way, a new American novel and drama will soon appear (Hyde 354).
Kingston describes this novel of broken boundaries whose protagonist would combine the spirits of Monkey and Tripitaka and would come 'singing a new theogony' (Hyde 310). What she calls the Global novel is to encourage nonviolent means to arrive at a nonviolent end and is not conceived solely in terms of human action or drama although it will require humans that have learned the culture and history of the land as have the Native Americans, humans who are root[ed] in the earth. Animal helpers like coyotes (the archetypal Native American trickster) and pheasants will appear miraculously...and will help deconstruct the cities, and Monkey, retaining his ancient symbolic powers, will become the intermediary in destroying the boundaries that separate humans from one another and from the other animals (Kingston 38, 39).1989 Mary Tannan. After Roy . New York: Knopf.
Maggie, scientist, teacher, chimp-trainer, determines to recondition the chimpanzee Hilda, the star of a language-learning experiment, raised like a human child. The plan is for Maggie to spend six months with Hilda in the wilds of D'Jarkoume in West Africa, teaching Hilda to fend for herself and to rejoin a wild band of chimps when she comes into estrus. The novel opens after they have spent eight years attempting to get Hilda, who does not want to return to the wild, to accept the necessity of doing so.1990s TV series Quantum Leap .
During the 1970s a head injury study sponsored by the NIH led to "a 1990s script for the American television series Quantum Leap--in which a human inhabiting a chimpanzee discovers his head ready to be smashed by a piston for research purposes--some research-industry spokespeople leapt into action, eager to deny any image that so powerfully compared the suffering of humans to the suffering of chimps. Frankie Trull, executive director of the National Association for Biomedical Research, also complained to the producer. As Trull wrote elsewhere, having a person enter a chimpanzee's body in a piece of fiction on television might 'reinforce the idea that at least some animals are morally equal to humans'" (Peterson 230-231).1990 William Boyd. Brazzaville Beach . New York: William Morrow (Barber, 1995).
To the Ete people, the advancing jungle was just another invader to adjust to. Legend told of many others, even long before the Tall People came and went away again.1990 Monkey Boy . Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark.
Now a new invader was seen clambering through the trees. Chimpanzees, spreading from what had been their last redoubts, were also increasing, returning to reclaim their last ancient range.
"Are they good to eat, grandfather?" . Kau thought back, remembering meat he'd tasted in his youth. It hadn't been all that bad.
But then he recalled also, when the Ete used to squat at the back of the Lesse village clearing while movies were shown against a tattered screen. One had been a disturbing tale, all about apes that had talked and yet were misunderstood and abused in one of the Tall People's crazy cities. He remembered being sad--thinking of them as brothers.
"No," Kau told his grandson, improvising as he went along. "They have almost-people spirits. We'll eat them only if we're starving. Never before."
One day, not long after, he awoke to find a mound of fruit piled high beside his hut. Kau contemplated no connection between the two events. He did not have to. (352-352)
Private investigator Stuart Winter, searching for a missing deaf woman, investigates the gorilla trainer, Dr. Harrison, who directed the missing woman's teaching the gorilla Joseph to sign. Since her disappearance Joseph has been morose and shows emotion when the woman's name is mentioned. The gorillas Joseph and Bathsheba are treated as complex characters and the problem of their education and upkeep and the ethics of using them in a language experiment are all woven into the mystery of Anita Walters' disappearance.1991 Blood of the Apes . Adventure Comics: 4 issue comic miniseries.
The people of your culture cling with fanatical tenacity to the specialness of man. They want desperately to perceive a vast gulf between man and the rest of creation. This myth of human superiority justifies their doing whatever they please with the world . But in the end this mythology is not deeply satisfying. The takers [Ishmael's name for Western humans] are a profoundly lonely people. The world for them is enemy territory, and they live in it everywhere like an army of occupation, alienated and isolated by their extraordinary specialness. (311-312; see also 1960 Roger Price, J. G., The Upright Ape )Scholtmeijer asks:
Why do we need a gorilla to offer us a new philosophy of living? Marion Copeland asks this question at the start of her online posting "Apes of the Imagination." The bibliography Copeland provides offers many uses of apes both sacred and secular. At the end of her survey the question remains open. [But provokes an answer from this critic, who concludes that] It is reasonable to conclude that the novel's spiritual aspect is essentially associated with the fact that, in it, a human person is being schooled by a gorilla. The gorilla assists in the fiction that the novel transcends culture for its message. Unlike a human mentor, a gorilla--notionally--has no personal investment in upholding one [human] cultural system above another--except for that system which will save gorillas.
for all that Quinn makes no effort [earlier she writes "makes little attempt"] to imagine the mind of a gorilla or speak from a natural gorilla's sensibility, there is merit in his choice of a gorilla as opposed to other imaginable beings. The program of living he espouses seems refreshingly earth-bound. Even if it does not take a special perspective to assert that the world was "made" equally for "jellyfish or salmon or iguanas or for gorillas" (57) as for human beings, ex cathedra pronouncements to that effect have a hectoring quality about them. Ishmael's stance is less wise than sensible, and perhaps that common touch could not be achieved, given the subject matter, with a human or superhuman teacher.
However, one is left with a disturbing feeling that the gorilla is gratuitous. Or rather, that the novelty of the philosophy arises only from the fact that it is delivered by a gorilla, and not a very gorilla-like gorilla at that. The spiritual utility of Quinn's gorilla becomes apparent, however, with the koans that frame the story. In response to the opening koan, "With Man Gone, Will There be Hope for Gorilla?" (9), one is inclined to answer with a decided "yes. Even more hope." In response to its reversal at the novel's conclusion, "With Gorilla Gone, Will There be Hope for Man?" (263), one is inclined to answer with a decided "no. Humankind cannot survive without other animals." But the puzzle is less easily answered than this, and more realistic, precisely because Quinn has used a gorilla as his philosopher. Substitute any other creature for "man" and "gorilla" in the koans and the question is still urgent. The koans drive home the message that all species on earth, including the human species, are interlinked, are valuable to one another. The loss of the lemur would diminish the world for sea lions no less than it would for humankind. Furthermore, although an animal rights perspective tends to make a person misanthropic, Quinn effectively presents the case that the loss of the human species, as a species, entails an equal diminishment of the world. The fact that a gorilla has addressed a human being in Ishmael carries the message over the abstract qualities of the similarly positioned Gaia hypothesis and into a fairly effective conjoining of the realistic with the spiritual. Ishmael does not oblige animals to speak before they attain a meaningful relationship with us. ( "Animals and Spirituality" 387-389)
Ads for Jennie call her "one of the most endearing animal heroines of our time." "Endearing," like "charming," is a demeaning term, and no one uses the word "heroine" without intending to raise questions about political correctness -- unless apparently, the female is nonhuman as Jennie, a chimpanzee, is. Without intending to demean, such ads reveal prevalent attitudes toward nonhuman animals that are, in fact, part of what Preston investigates in the novel. For all Jennie's human qualities, she is never presented as anything other than nonhuman. Her difference from human primates become more and more pronounced as she matures, ceases to be cute, and becomes a sexually mature chimpanzee. The fascination of the novel is in the tension developed in and among the novel's characters, including Jennie, by her similarity to and difference from her human family and tutors. The novel, told through excerpts from the writings of and interviews with those humans most involved first with Jennie's being raised as a child and sibling in a human family and then with her becoming the subject of an ASL (American Sign Language) experiment, uses these tensions to raise large moral and ethical questions about primates in particular and all nonhumans by extension.
Readers familiar with the voluminous literature about language experiments with the great apes; about the use of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans in laboratory experiments and in the entertainment industry; and about the poaching and capture of these primates in the wild will recognize the depth and breadth of the research that preceded the writing of this novel and informs its characterization of Jennie and her human contacts. From the opening where her mother, fatally poisoned by the arrow of a bushman employed to obtain museum specimens for the researcher who becomes Jennie's "father," Jennie presents the reader with confusions about gender ("endearing" and "charming" are also terms human women have had to overcome), species and, in general, about Western humans' understandings of nature and the wild -- these are, of course, confusions that have allowed the culture's use and, as is the case here, tragically well-intentioned abuse of the nonhuman (and often of the human as well). Finally, Jennie like the well-known Elsa and Digit, like the female chimpanzee characters in John Collier's My Monkey Wife , Mary Tannan's After Roy , and Peter Dickinson's Eva , is "sacrificed" in what seems, despite her ASL, to be silence. Her screams when she is separated from her family and relocated on an island where experimental chimps are released into the "wild," communicate little, or little that can be admitted to, to the humans whose words record her story for the reader.
Only her human brother, Sandy, and perhaps her human father, Hugo, hear Jennie's final message. Hugo fails to survive a simple operation soon thereafter. Sandy turns his back on what another recent primate protagonist, Daniel Quinn's Ishmael (1990), calls the Story of Taker Culture, a story that must be deconstructed if paradigms that allow Ishmael and Jennie to survive are to emerge. Finally, as seems implicit in Preston's choice of narrative device, the boundaries that separate humans from their animal kin need to be broken down and that can be done only by examining our own human stories and languages for their biases and then by listening to the voices around us, voices that, like Jennie's and Ishmael's, have their own stories to tell. (Copeland 1995; cf review by Cathy Young Czapla in Animal People Dec, 1994:19). See 2001 The Jennie Project .
The animals that seemed closest to humans were monkeys and apes. The Bestiary said that monkeys were named 'simia' because 'people notice a great similitude to human reason in them.' As this descriptive reference indicates, people's interest in apes was largely due to their perceived similarity to humans. Therefore, the popularity of and speculation about apes increased after the 12th century when people began to reflect upon the possibility of similarity between animals and humans. In his comprehensive study of apes in the Middle Ages, H. Janson has observed that there are no surviving representations of apes in early Christian art and no portrayals of apes parodying human behavior before the 12th century. After the 12th century, however, apes were increasingly shown as 'images of man, but a deformed image representing man in a state of degeneracy.' .
The growing popularity of thinking about apes (and therefore about humans) may also be seen in post-12th century literature. Apes had not been particularly featured in the classical fables, nor in the rediscovery of the fables in the early 12th century . As new fables were created for the exempla of medieval preachers, however, apes were popular protagonists. Two of the most frequently used of the top six newly developed exempla in the medieval collections concerned apes. For example, the most popular was that of a foolish ape who threw away a nut because of a bitter rind.
Even in the earlier human exemplar literature, however, apes were treated somewhat differently from the other animals. While other animals were portrayed with human qualities and behavior, apes were shown as themselves, pale imitations of humans. Therefore in the exemplas literature they were disdained as more bestial and thus inferior to other animals that were portrayed as human. For example, in the Reynard epic, when the human-like Reynard meets an ape, he refers to the simian as 'a foul beast.'
Instead of being raised above other beasts because of their perceived similarity to humans, apes and other simians were portrayed as ridiculous. Lacking dignity of their own, they were shown imperfectly imitating their betters, humans. The most popular ape tale of the foolish mother who drops her favorite twin is a lesson of imperfect human motherly love.
Fable stories of how to catch an ape are even more direct examples of imperfect imitation. An often repeated classical tale said that a hunter who wanted to catch an ape could put on a pair of boots weighted with lead in the presence of a watchful ape. The shrewd hunter would then pretend to leave, abandoning his boots. The curious ape would imitate the hunter's actions and try on the boots. Unable to run in the weighted boots, the ape would be easily caught. This classical tale is entertaining and lacks malicious tone, but other similar tales with a stronger warning against imitative behavior were even more popular in the Middle Ages. Alexander Neckham in the 12th century tells about catching an ape by pretending to rub bird-lime in the eyes, which blinds the imitative ape. A prospective hunter had even less work to do in a tale seemingly invented by Alexander. A cobbler, annoyed by an ape, drew the blunt side of a knife across his neck. The foolish imitative ape cut his own throat.
As you see, these tales are not stories of foolish human behavior, but they are tales of foolish ape behavior. And apes were foolish because they were perceived to resemble humans. There seem to be two general morals to be drawn : 1) Do not try to be something you are not . 2) Creatures that do not fit clearly into categories are at best foolish, at worst dangerous. Both these morals and the increasing popularity of apes point to the growing concern with ambiguity between humans and animals.
This increasing ambiguity may be seen most clearly in scientific writings of the 12th and 13th centuries. The two most important and original writers on the subject of apes and people were Hildegard of Bingen, the 12th century abbess, and Albert the Great, the 13th century scholastic .
The two writers represent a striking turning point in the vision of the relationship between humans and animals. As Janson writes, 'Their main significance lies in the fact that they established a theoretical bridge, however frail, between man and the rest of the animal world, with the ape serving as a kind of pillar in midstream.' (142-144)1995 Born to Be Wild
One of a series of encouraging tales for readers age 5-8 featuring a beguiling young chimp (the illustrations are by the author) who longs to be a soccer player but lacks the self-confidence to rely on his own talents (and is too poor to buy the cleats necessary to play well). An encounter with a mysterious old-fashioned soccer player who looks very much like Willy provides him with both cleats and, ultimately, self-confidence. Other Willy stories include Willy the Champ , Willy the Wimp , Willy and Hugh , Willy the Dreamer , and Willy's Pictures . Browne also wrote Gorilla for the same age reader.1995 Kenneth W. Fuchs, editor and annotator. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs: An annotated etext . Rev. October 1999. Internet Publication Copyright, 2002 ( http://www.erblist.com/erbmania/novels/tofuchs.htm ) 244 pages.
Serendipity is sometimes a reviewer's best friend! I began reading The Woman and the Ape immediately after finishing David Abram's The Spirit of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World (Pantheon, 1996) so it was Abram and not other reviewers or jacket blurbs or fond memories of Smilla's Sense of Snow that prepared me for Hoeg's newest novel. This novel is like Smilla only in that its central character is female and Danish, both of which make her an Outsider in the world of her British husband, Adam Burden, a behavioral scientist who treats his wife, Madelene, as a valued and frivolous pet. The ape of the title is not any known species of ape, educated and socialized like Koko or the latest pygmy chimp phenom. He belongs to a species not encountered before by Western science, possesses a brain as large or larger than modern man, walks upright, is capable of eye contact, and, although he does not speak at the outset, learns to speak both English and Danish under Madelene's tutelage once the two have escaped from Adam's control.
He is the prize capture of a crew of traders in exotic animals, one Adam Burden hopes to turn into compelling proof of his own scientific acumen. With the ape's discovery as his crowning achievement, there could be little argument against his being appointed Director of the New London Regent's Park Zoological Garden which, like so many modern zoos, will be a center for the protection and breeding of endangered species as well as an educational and entertainment magnet for the public.
Adam's sister, Andrea, who heads Britain's Animal Welfare Foundation, tells Madelene that biologists calculate that this city [London] contains more than thirty million nonhuman creatures, representing 10,000 separate species. They put the animal biomass at 350,000 pounds per square mile.... there are more animals in London than in any British oak wood.... London is one of the largest habitats for nonhuman creatures on this earth. Interesting in its own right because metropolises world wide are, in fact, inhabited by thousands of species, the fact becomes basic to the novel's theme which Madelene utters when she first conceives of a plan to free the ape, Erasmus. She saw that the principle of the city....had totally enmeshed the globe. There was no longer any outside for the ape at her elbow. Any zoo, any game reserve, any safari park whatever was now contained within the bounds of civilization. She tells Erasmus that If there's any freedom to be found it'll have to be on the inside. Unfortunately, however, it also becomes clear that London -- the city -- is not a natural habitat but a machine. It, not the natural world, is the factory for the manufacture of suffering" which Andrea Burden claims God, like most behavioral scientists "a bit slow on the uptake," had created.
After some truly funny scenes as Madeline and Erasmus escape, St. Francis Forest, "the London Zoo's private wildlife reserve, the largest zoological breeding and research center in Europe," becomes their sanctuary and the setting for the interspecies love and sex that has so titillated some reviewers. Far from being "Ray Bradbury for Vikings," The Woman and the Ape is an environmental fable with a jolting message. Our large brains are turning the planet's natural environments into machines unsuited for the survival of living creatures. The novel suggests that our only hope for a future would be the evolution of a species--the children of Erasmus and Madelene-- that retains the powerful roots in the natural world that Abram refers to as the spirit of the sensuous and would therefore be able to reverse the process by which London has transformed the globe. Perhaps one should, however, find fault with Hoeg's romantic and anthropocentric decision to make that savior species one so like ours that at the end our genes will mix with its, as Madelene's genes do with Erasmus' as they leave England to sail to the undiscovered land of the ape's origin, a land which can only exist if, in fact, there still is an outside, a place that has remained nature and not machine. (Copeland 26)1996 Gary Kern. The Last Snow Leopard . Michigan State University: The Ghost Dance Press.
After many years of language training
In the Yerkes Primate Lab (our animals
have indoor/outdoor access and may
withdraw from lessons at will) Sherman
the chimp, after correctly categorizing
as either food or tool
used the incorrect lexigram
to classify a sponge.
The chimp has one hundred keys
to choose from. First, he was
asked to sort food and tools
into two bins. Later,
instead of bins, to press
the lexigram for food or tool.
He could string lexigrams to say
Sherman's apparent mistake
was subsequently read
as the interpreter's
misunderstanding of the animal's
intent. An active eater,
Sherman is prone to
Sucking liquids from a sponge,
often chewing and swallowing
the tool as if it were food.
Quinn's title for this sequel to Ishmael (1992) lends the clue essential to understanding the theme of My Ishmael. The relationship of the novel's 12-year-old narrator, Julie Gershak, to her gorilla mentor is a jealous one. She takes an instant dislike to his other current student, Alan Lomax, the narrator of the original novel because she is reluctant to share Ishmael with him, and, in fact, she doesn't, refusing to allow her sessions to coincide with those of this dark, intense, conservatively dressed man who seems to her about her mother's age and has 'intellectual--keep your distance' written all over him. Ironically, the really possessive student turns out not to be Julie but Lomax as the reader learns (and possibly remembers) when Ishmael is forced, by the death of his benefactor and former student, Rachel Sokolow, to leave the office building where both Lomax and Julie have served their apprenticeship. The daughter of the man who originally discovered Ishmael's genius and bought him, Rachel had been a student of the gorilla from the time of her birth and his messenger until the time of her death.
Ishmael knows his students well-enough to be aware that, although Julie may be jealous of his time, it is Lomax who, appraised of the gorilla's departure, will display a possessiveness that, given free rein, would return Ishmael to captivity in order to keep him. Ishmael makes it clear in the original novel that the underlying theme of his teaching is captivity, that his effort is to lead his students to free themselves and then others from living as captives to their culture story's capitalist patriarchal paradigm. So it is particularly ironic that Alan Lomax fails to see that his plan to save Ishmael by buying him and keeping him a prisoner of his need, albeit while caring for him, demonstrates his continued adherence to his culture story. Therefore, Ishmael knows Lomax is helpless not to stand in the way of his return to the place of his birth and captivity in Africa to rejoin the Leaver culture of the endangered wild Mountain Gorillas.
He also knows that Julie, although also loath to lose her teacher, would never attempt to subvert his plans. He literally trusts her with his life. She instinctively understands that he is well aware that he may not survive in the wild, may not be accepted by a gorilla band, may fall prey to poachers, but she respects him (and herself) enough to allow him to make his own choices and to help him in whatever way she can. As it turns out, Julie becomes key to the success of Ishmael's plan, in the process demonstrating that she will be both a good teacher and an able bearer of Ishmael's message to the world (which Alan Lomax becomes, too, after he believes Ishmael had died and can let him go). For both, writing the story of their apprenticeship becomes the first step in their own curriculum, their first contact with those who are to become their students and carry their version of Ishmael's message to the world.
Alan Lomax was too absorbed by what Alan wanted to be able to give any thought to what Ishmael wanted. Worse than possessive, his unwillingness to allow Ishmael to move on and to move on himself threatens his usefulness as Ishmael's message-bearer. The reader comes to understand that Ishmael's plan to thwart Lomax is as much to free the man to take on the burden of his message as to assure Ishmael's own survival or freedom. It remains for Lomax to learn from Julie's story why others cannot be bought or owned or kept in captivity even if it is a protective captivity. It will undoubtedly be a painful lesson just as the lesson learned in Quinn's second novel, The Story of B (1996) is a painful one. And Julie's education will continue as she reads first Alan's and then B's versions of Ishmael's story and writes her own at 16, publishing it when she is 18 and the political situation in the countries that border on Ishmael's territory make it safe to share. Patience and timing are crucial skills for any teacher to learn.
There is more in My Ishmael about the gorilla's theory of education than would have interested Lomax, who has completed his culture's curriculum, since Julie is still in public school and very much involved in the existing system. Perhaps for the same reason, there is also a clear statement of the value system Ishmael believes his students can learn from observing Leaver cultures like those of indigenous humans and nonhumans like the gorilla: Julie becomes more open to the wisdom of our neighbors in the community of life than most students would be because she has done less forgetting of her original ties to nature and the planet than Ishmael's adult male students have been led to do. She even comes to understand what seems to be the hardest thing for Western patriarchal cultures to accept: that there is no one right way for people to live and that no one has the right to impose unwanted values and beliefs on another individual or culture. Unlike Ishmael, which ends in Lomax's despair over the gorilla's death and his own loss, My Ishmael has a positive ending. This is obviously intended to provide proof of the wisdom of supposing that a little child may well lead us into a sustainable future that will allow both Ishmael and his kind and our kind to survive and be happy.1997 Will Self. Great Apes . New York: Grove Press.
In The New York Times Book Review 's Notable Books of the Year 1997 (7 Dec 1997), Great Apes is described as The seventh book of a death-defying British satirist [. It] proposes a world of civilized chimpanzees, in which a celebrated artist registers his alienation by suffering delusions of humanity (62). Self's narrator, a chimpanzee psychologist obviously inspired by Oliver Sacks, is called upon to treat a well-known chimpanzee artist who thinks he is human in this clever and affecting satire, a kind of updated Planet of the Apes .
In the Author's Note, W. S., who identifies himself as a chimpanzee novelist, explains that his decision to create a human protagonist was directed by the great tradition of satire. His goal? To promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of humans, thereby improving the conditions under which domesticated humans, especially in research facilities, are kept. He is anxious to have his readers give the whole question of animal rights their fullest attention and to consider enlarging the franchise of chimpunity to admit subordinate species, such as humans. Self's novel uses its chimpanzee protagonists, including the artist Simon Dykes (whose delusion that he is human powers the plot), for exactly such purposes in terms of enlarging the anthropocentric franchise to admit the other Great Apes. In the process it is hard for the reader to ignore just how close to and yet how distinct from chimpanzee culture human culture is. His conceit, once acknowledged, is simple: chimps rather than humans have evolved to produce a technologically and intellectually complex culture by the 21st century. Self underscores this reversal by a further reversal of domesticated species [16 hand dogs live in the chimpanzee's stables while lap horses share their homes]..., adding a further half-twist of weirdness to the [human/chimp] reversal....
The depth of Dykes' delusion (and Self's satire) demands the reader's attention -- perhaps even a second or third reading, since most readers initially deny their own primate, indeed their own animal identity. Reading a work like philosopher Barbara Noske's Beyond Boundaries: Humans and Animals carries Self's thesis from fiction to reality with startling effect. Regaining the relationship makes reading Great Apes an easier if not necessarily more comfortable experience. Questions are inevitable. Is Self (or W. S.) right that our innate need to be touched/groomed, as gorillas and chimps groom, has been sacrificed to our denial of our primate identity, leading to the need for drugs and kinky sex as an excuse to touch? Premature babies, denied touch, fail to thrive. What else, essentially human, perishes without a cloth mother in the behaviorist-psychologist's lab of a civilization the novel exposes?
The satire slices to even deeper nerves. Chimp or human, 21st century civilization seems inevitably to be a realization of Lang's vision [in Metropolis] of an inhuman, urban [world], ruled by the Moloch of machinery in which individuals are the clogs. It is that vision--the twisting and distressing of that body by the metropolis, by its trains and planes, its offices and apartments, its fashions and fascisms, piazzas and pizza parlours--that has become the subject of Dykes' paintings and perhaps, as well, the cause of his denial of his body and identity. In this Self echoes the warnings of Peter Hoeg's 1996 apocalyptic novel Woman and Ape although, unlike Hoeg, Self makes use of his extensive knowledge of apes in film and literature. Self's readers will be led to reconsider the implications of works as varied as King Kong and Thomas Love Peacock's Melincourt . Dr. Busner's therapy to reawaken Simon Dykes' chimpunity includes gathering together all the works of theoretical anthropology, field studies, fictional works....films, television documentaries, still photographs that examine the human--all reversals of works depicting the chimpanzee or other great ape from Edward Topsell's 1699 anatomy to Jane Goodall to all four of the Planet of the Apes videos and relevant websites, all obviously sources Self himself utilized in researching his subject to establish the verisimilitude essential to his satire and theme.
Along the way Busner, the chimp Oliver Sacks, provides the psychological theory appropriate both to understanding his patient and to reading Self's novel: an inter-subjective ... approach, somehow to...see the world with his eyes, to enter the protagonist's story as the protagonist, actively deconstructing the ideological categories that surround our notions of disease [and species]. Concern is expressed for the suffering of veal calves and others slaughtered for food, for the imminent extinction of both the whales and wild humans (i.e. great apes). As in Hoeg, there is need for another Ark to sail a menagerie away from the inundation of the city. Ground it again on a greenfield shore, where evolution could begin anew.1997 George of the Jungle .
Entertainment Weekly 's Mike D'Angelo (16 Jan 1998) warns that This fictionalized account of socialite Trudy Lintz ([Rene] Russo), who maintained a menagerie on her Brooklyn estate, may look like an adorable kiddie romp, but it has more in common with King Kong than with Going Ape . The title character, a baby gorilla adopted by Lintz in the 1930s, grows to be an uncontrollable force of nature (a teenager, in short); the resulting violence is probably too intense for small children. Older viewers will be distracted by the blatant Buddy fakery--he might as well have a sign reading 'Property of the Jim Henson Creature Shop' hung around his neck. (Having him interact with real chimps was a bad move.) Russo emotes her heart out, but this strange little movie remains a nice try at best (74).
Perhaps the best thing about the movie is where it deviates from history, allowing Lintz to come to her senses about allowing her apes to be apes instead of pseudo-humans and providing them with a protected but relatively natural and ape-appropriate habitat.1997 William Joyce. Buddy . Harpercollins Juvenile.
THE LARGEST GORILLA EVER
THE WORLD'S MOST TERRIFYING
GARGANTUA THE GREAT! (Hahn 60)
In addition to Prity ( Brightness Reef  and Infinity's Shore ), Brin introduces a major neochimpanzee character here. Harry Harms, a scout for the Institute of Navigation, is a particularly skilled explorer of E-Space where "dreaming was part of the job." Harry's dreams "were filled with spinning dizzying allaphors, which billowed and muttered in the queer half-logic of E Space" (4). Able to talk, he can describe both his dreams and encounters in this "vast metaphorical realm" (6) where memes "roamed free" and became "palpable ideas" (34). Nonetheless, Harry nursed no illusions about status. Harry knew this job was just the sort of dangerous, tedious duty the great Institutes assigned to lowly client of an unimportant clan. (51)
The most troubling problem he faces involves off-duty time since he feels he has no home in the universe, having been born of a pair of chims assigned to Horst, a planet he hates and been schooled on Earth where he felt himself discriminated against. Kazzbeck Base, his latest assignment, has become familiar, but he is the only one of his kind there--so it also is not home: "the warm physical contact of mutual grooming was the one thing he missed most about his own kind" (233). After a space accident turns him white and adds a tail to his anatomy, Harry meets humans from Jijo who, though they consider him a very strange chimp, tell him others of his kind live there. There is to be no Ptiry/Harry alliance (at least not in this trilogy), since ironically Prity and Sara are, just as he reaches Jijo, headed for Earth on the Streaker. Still, it is clear that Brin feels they all need to rediscover "home, hearth, and low, melodic rituals inherited from a misty past, before [any of them or us] ever trod the road of Uplift or cared about distant stars" (546).1998 Bill Fitzhugh. The Organ Grinders . New York: Avon.
Chimpanzee families have much in common with human onesrivalrous siblings, loutish teen-agers and overwhelmed mothers, for example. Jane Goodall's book 'With Love' offers 10 vignettes from her decades of observation of chimps in Tanzania's Gombe National Park. The material is rich, giving us both glimpses of Goodall's seminal fieldwork and stories about common family troubles, which are perhaps more easily told to children through animal behavior than in human terms.
In her research, Goodall has seen a good many soap operas unfold, and she presents them in the unvarnished form that children find so gripping. There is the tale of Flo, an older mother, and her son Flint, a spoiled, overly dependent brat. Goodall observes Flint's demands on Flo and is infuriated, but thinks that Flint gives her reason to carry on. The youngster wins little sympathy from readers until Flo dies, arousing compassion even for the selfish Flint: 'Sometimes he pulled at her dead hand, as though begging her to wake and groom him. Then, disconsolate, he climbed up and sat, huddled and miserable, looking down at his lifeless mother.'
Then there's Sprout, another ancient female, called upon to defend an aggressive 25-year-old son, Satan, who starts a fight he can't finish.
In addition to tales of dysfunctional families, Goodall draws upon the kinds of caring moments among siblings that leave parents startled and touched when they occur among human children. Seven-year-old Prof wipes his younger brother's nose with a bunch of leaves, and Pom, an 8 year-old, heroically saves her baby brother from a deadly predator.
There's also Auntie Gigi. At 38, without offspring of her own, she provides an invaluable service to the group by adopting a number of orphans in the wake of an epidemic.
Jane Goodall's extraordinary respect and affection for the chimps she has lived among since 1960 are conveyed resoundingly in these stories. Goodall chose Alan Marks for his fine naturalistic illustrations, which, in her estimation capture the spirit of the chimpanzees. (Finnerty)1998 Sparkle Hayter. The Last Manly Man . New York: William Morrow.
Atsuko Morozumi's MY FRIEND GORILLA is an elegant and charming picture book about friendship and tolerance. Morozumi's spare text and her luscious pictures will move just about any preschooler from giggles to sadness to a measure of understanding about how good friends are always a part of us. Adults may get teary-eyed. When a gorilla comes to live with a zookeeper's family, the zookeeper's son is at first scared of the huge creature who sleeps on his bottom bunk. But gorilla is nice, and soon the boy has a new friend. Together boy and gorilla go to the park, read books and dream in the trees. The gorilla even goes to the boy's birthday party, where he is the largest guest. Then the cold weather comes, and it is time for the gorilla to go back to Africa. The boy cries when he says goodbye. He stays sad until a letter comes one day with a picture of the gorilla in the African jungle. The gorilla has a baby on his back! He looks happy, and so the boy is happy too. 'I still remember him,' the boy says on the last page, gazing out his window, looking past the gorilla's photograph on the sill. Thumbtacked to the wall is a picture the boy has drawn of himself and his friend, holding hands. Everyone will adore the illustrations; the best is of the gorilla sitting at the boy's birthday table alongside nonchalant little girls in party dresses. Friends, of course, don't have to look at all like us (Bumiller).
Equally addressed in Morozumi's text and pictures is a respect for the gorilla as gorilla missing in earlier children's books (and in most adult books). He is not in captivity either at the zoo or the zookeeper's house and, like Ishmael, can be a friend to man only as long as his identity as a gorilla is respected and retained. Only on those terms can friendship between the two species exist. Such texts bring the most important aspects of Ishmael's message to children early enough to offer some deterrent to the culture story that would teach them to value the gorilla only as a possession without inherent rights.1998. The Mighty Kong
Here's my dream of a final exam:
two apes, in chains, sitting at a window.
Outside the sky is flying
And the sea bathes.
I am taking the test on human history.
I stammer and blunder.
One ape, staring at me, listens with irony,
The other seems to doze--
But when I am silent after a question,
She prompts me
With a soft clinking of the chain.
HOLLYWOOD -- It could have been a moment from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Two actors were being led to their marks on a sound stage while crew members
were wondering if they'd had a lot to drink.
"Sometimes when they have Pampers on, even through Pampers, if they have to go, they have to go," costume designer Terri Valazza said with a sigh.
The actors weren't Errol Flynn or John Barrymore but Kenuzi and Jonah, two water-imbibing stars of "The Chimp Channel," TBS' first original sitcom and the first all-simian series since ABC's Saturday morning "Lancelot Link Secret Chimp" departed in 1972.
Unabashedly lowbrow, the show, which debuts tonight, concerns characters who work at a TV studio. Among them are schmoozing general manager Harry, vainly handsome leading man Brock, diva Mariana and eager intern Timmy. Nippets of parodies have titles such as "NYPD Zoo" and "Touched by an Anvil." ( The Daily Northampton [MA] Gazette 10 June 1999: D8).
According to a commentary in The TV Guide (23 October 1999: 4), Jane Goodall is "'appalled by The Chimp Channel'" exactly because the training method used "'in any sort of entertainment is typically harsh.'" After reading Peterson, I would have to agree, but I find the program appalling simply because, in the interests of entertainment and satire, the chimps are made to appear as ridiculous parodies of humans instead of as themselves.1999 Kenneth Fuchs. Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan: An Annotated Text . New York: Ballantine, 1963; 1995.
David Denby writes: "Somewhere in the universe, there has to be something better than man," Charlton Heston said before he met the furry superior creatures in "Planet of the Apes." Anthony Hopkins comes to the same conclusion in "Instinct." Hopkins plays an anthropologist who lives with the mountain gorillas of Rawanda, accepted by them as a fellow-creature. Though he appears to be content, some of us might wonder what two years of hunching, grooming, and scratching in the forest might do to a man's soul. In time, Hopkins does go ape and murders a couple of people, but only in defense of his new animal family. Some years later he recalls these events while he's incarcerated in a Florida prison ward for the criminally insane . [hot-shot young psychiatrist] Cuba Gooding, Jr., has to get him to speak [only to find that Dr. Powell] .thinks that civilization is a disaster and that man was better off when he hunted merely to avoid starvation rather than to conquer or to make himself wealthy. "Dominion," he explains sagely, summing up in a single word the faults of advanced life. We are takers, therefore we are evil. It is the straight Rousseau line, announced without irony or historical awareness, and some of us have heard it before, and rejected it before, though New Age guilt-trippers may find it enlightening. "Instinct" which was written by Gerald DiPego (from a novel by Daniel Quinn) and directed by Jon Turteltaub, preaches against violence and then seeks to entertain us with scenes of Hopkins bashing people . "Instinct" is a whorish movie lusting after purity. Most of it takes place in the prison and consists of endless soulful confrontation between Hopkins and Gooding. After a while one longs for a glimpse of this superior nature we've been hearing so much about, but the mountain scenes are disappointingly brief, and the gorillas (played by men in suits) are far too tame (91-9).
I actually found the film a far better translation of Quinn's novel, by which, the credits tell us, it was "suggested than I had expected. The themes remain in tact and Hopkins, though he over-acts as Ishmael would not, comes as close as a human probably can to serving as a stand-in for Quinn's gorilla mentor.1999 Being John Malkovich . Interesting chimpanzee character named Elijah.
" what the Disney artists pulled off with a background-enhancing technology called Deep Canvas looks just as exciting at home as it did in theaters .
"Take the staggering sequence in which Tarzan rescues Jane from a pack of jabbering baboons. Here's a long, sustained chase where the characters don't just move across the screen, past layers of flat backgrounds. They go around, into, and through backgrounds that are themselves animated--yet still look as if they were painted with feathery brushstrokes, not drawn as hard-outlined shapes and then filled in with colors. Japanese animated fare has simulated these types of camera moves before, but never in ways that looked this thoroughly three-dimensional, or that blended so seamlessly with regular, static painted backgrounds.
" .There's a quiet moment where the odd-couple lovers (voiced beguilingly by Minnie Driver and Tony Goldwyn) visit Tarzan's simian relatives. The camera actually appears to tilt upward in space past the duo, then moves up into the branches to reveal dozens of apes gathered to greet them" (Daly 75). These effects lend an authenticity to the apes and their environment often lacking in live versions. As Daly comments, no previous version has surpassed the "emotion of the last scene of Disney's version. It's a sustained, exhilerating dolly shot, during which Tarzan and Jane bough-surf through the trees past their own unique extended family: Jane's human dad, Tarzan's ape mom, all their animal friends--until they finally arrive at a treetop clearing that's theirs alone" (76).2000 Michael Atkinson. "Thieving the Gorilla Child--from L'Action (Cameroon), 0/22/97." The Massachusetts Review XLI (Spring 2000): 142
Although Skink as well as Kaz and his buddy Chim (and the bully Blok) are rhesus macaques, native to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, rather than true apes, I choose to include this young adult novel because it is narrated by Kaz himself and raises themes and issues essential to all the works included here with clarity and a point of view seldom voiced. Skink comes as the new-comer to the long-established macaque colony in what turns out to be a safari park type zoo. He brings with him many bad experiences quite different from those of the other members of the colony and particularly appeals to Kaz's curiosity about what lies beyond the enclosure. When they escape, Kaz adds Skink's experiences of the bad things humans do to monkeys (experiments including space flights and radiation testing, both of which the author comments on it his Author's Note, zoos, circuses and other entertainments, as well as captivity, Ishmael 's theme). When their adventure is over, Skink determines not to be caught and returned to the Enclosure but Kaz, who has seen that there is no way his kind can live on their own in the place he now finds himself, opts to return to the Enclosure where he determines to become the leader of the Colony which he plans to reform so that macaques tend to treat one another less the way Skink has shown him humans too often treat other animals.2001 Ian Edginton, Paco Medino, and Adrian Siban. Planet of the Apes: The Human War TPB. Dark Horse Graphic Novels.
Several decades after human astronaut Leo Davidson's adventure on the ape world, ape society has been torn apart from within by a horrible civil war that's erupted between ape rivals advocating human integration and the fearful but powerful ape regime. Is the ape Seneca and his scattered but loyal followers of humans and apes strong enough to defeat the charismatic Shiva and her imposing ape army? The conflict has reached a bloody stalemate. But Shiva has a deadly secret that will end the war and wipe out mankind. After all, the only good human, is a dead human!
Very much in the Crichton tradition, Dark Inheritance has a bonobo protagonist, Umber, one of a small number of genetically augmented (uplifted) apes placed with human families around the world by the pharmaceutical giant SAC. Actually bred to be returned to the wild and engender an ape population able to survive the threats posed to present wild populations, the apes develop in unexpected ways. When SAC demands Umber's return, her father and sister, primatologist Jim Dutton and his 13 year old daughter Brett arrange to accompany her to the refuge for once-captive apes where SAC plans to use the apes. Uncovering SAC's secrets becomes a struggle to survive for Umber and her human family as well as for Brett's mother, an investigative journalist for Triple N news who had decided to give her husband full custody and continue her career when Brett was born. Not only is what ensues great adventure, it also raises important issues about the statuslegal and ethicalof the other-than-human apes, making a thought-provoking contribution to the work of Jane Goodall and Steven Wise.
The authors, both anthropologists, write: We wanted to deal with some of the moral dilemmas of using higher primates for medical research. Chimpanzees are remarkably sensitive and intelligent creatures. They are almost us. We do not believe they are disposable as 'property.' Captive apes aren't the only ones at risk. There may be less than twenty thousand bonobos left in the wild. Chimpanzees are being hunted to extinction for the illegal pet trade and for 'bush meat.' Hopefully readers of DARK INHERITANCE will come away with a better understanding not only of apes, but of ourselves as human beings (Gear and Gear).
The X-Files' spin-off trio, grown to a quartet, receive a mysterious email of voice simulation from someone claiming that he and his companions are slaves in a government Behavioral Facility in Massachusetts and need their help to gain their freedom. The call for help comes from Peanuts, the smartest of a group of experimental apes. Obviously his ability to compose and send the email prove his literacy and sentience! The experimenter cannot get the apes to exhibit this level of competency although he senses it is there. The catalyst for Peanuts is his love for one of the female chimps whose group is kept separate from the males. It is the fourth gunman whose innate empathy becomes the key to liberating the chimps. The drama provides a convincing portrait of the chimps, particularly of Peanuts, making the episode a real argument for legal rights for at least the higher nonhuman primates.2001 The Lost Empire (Based on the Chinese legend of the Monkey King: Wu Cheng'en's Journey to the West ). 11-12 March (NBC Hallmark Entertainment Series).
The impact of Wu
Cheng'en's novel (or the tale of the Monkey King it brought to the West when it
was translated) is startling. In Jeffrey Deaver's
The Stone Monkey
(2002) an amulet of a soapstone original located in Quintcan, south of Fuzlon,
of a monkey sitting on his haunches, is a central symbol. The
character wearing it explained, 'Wily and shrewd
.[h]e is a famous
character in Chinese mythology, The Monkey King' (110). Later in the
novel a Chinese detective advises Lincoln Rhyme, Deaver's quadriplegic hero,
that, rather than risk surgery, he should put his life in balance, likening him
to the Monkey King:
You are like Monkey, I'm saying. Monkey do miracle things, magic, smart, toughhad temper, too, I'm saying. Like you. But he ignore naturelook for ways to cheat gods and stay alive forever. He steal peaches of immortality, got names erased from Register of Living and Dead. That when he got in trouble. Got burned and beat up and buried under mountain. Finally Monkey give up wanting to live forever. Found some friends and they all make pilgrimage to holy land in the West. He was happy. In harmony, I'm saying. (251)
One of the most anticipated flops to appear in a long time, Burton's remake, the result of a decade of planning by Twentieth-Century FOX, was supposed to mine sci-fi gold. Despite able writers and the advice of Richard D. Zanuck, (who nursed the original Apes onto theaters when he was head of Fox in the '60ies), its producer, the remake fell far short of the original (Svetkey 35). Perhaps Zanuck, careful to call the film a revisiting, should have guessed that messing with a cult classic was foolhearty to begin with? The media storm that preceded it's opening (see Endelmann), including a web site (www. planetOapes,tripod.com) far exceeded the responses of critics' and movie audiences alike. New Yorker critic, David Denby, begins his review describing Tim Roth's enthusiastic portrayal of the chimp warrior Thade, concluding that he's by far the most interesting thing in 'Planet of the Apes.' In fact, he's just about the only interesting thing . The relationships among the humans, and between the humans and the apes, are so negligently conceived that almost nothing comes through (87). Most damning, Denby concludes: Burton and his screen-writers never capture the grand sense of myth that made the earlier film exciting. Despite the film's extraordinary production skills, like the ape-school actors attended and Burton's own study of ape behavior, they forgot to teach themselves how to create a narrative structure that anyone could give a damn about (89).2002 Ian Edington, Paco Medino, and Adrian Sibar. Planet of the Apes, Vol. I: Old Gods TBP . Dark Horse Graphic Novel.
Anything that could went wrong after the Human War. Now the human rebel Esau and the ape leader Seneca are on trial for crimes against the ape state and face a hangman's noose. Rescued seconds from death by the once great gorilla warrior Attar, they soon discover his ulterior motiveto find his long-lost chimp friend, Ari. Hunted by ape Commander Kharim, Esau, Seneca, and Attar head into the uncharted wilds where they discover a besieged outpost of apes and humans, masters and slaves, fighting side by side against a primal, ancient evil that reveals the dark side of origin of both ape and man.2002 Justin Cartwright. White Lightning. London: Septre.
Given [the narrator] Kronk's humanism, the sacrifice of the animal [the baboon Piet] is the only possible outcome to a narrative of human and nonhuman animals. Kronk's unspeakable transgression against both human and nonhuman animals is also a colonial one in a post-colonial world he has not been able to read and it has brought about the deaths of Zwelakhe, whose care he had taken on as an expiation for the neglect of his son and of Piet, whose friendship he had so anthropocentrically cultivated as a memorial to both his father and his son. Relationships between humans and nonhuman animals, Cartwright seems to be saying, are defined by blindness and prejudice, not only philosophically but psychologically, with no respite from the realities of post-1994 South Africa. James Kronk has been taught about the white man's place inpost-apartheid society at the expense of the caged baboon, whom he tried, always from his 'peculiar self-understanding' (Woodward 2004: 139) so ineffectively to befriend (Woodward 89-90).2002 Ian Edington, Paco Medino, and Adrian Sibar. Planet of the Apes, Vol. II: Bloodlines TBP . Dark Horse Graphic Novel.
The quest for answers continues as Esau, Seneca, Attar, and the human woman, Crow, flee from the ape soldiers. When they make a stand in a snowy forest, all seems lost until a mysterious warrior in black armor comes to the rescue. Their futures uncertain, they face momentous decisionsto return to Derkeen and try to halt the bloodshed, to continue to hunt for Ari, to use the near-mythical Chimera to sever or unite humans and apes?2002 Ralph Lee. The Stone Monkey.
Perhaps the most crucial human character, next to Isabel herself is Marshall, whose own 'great-great-grandmother was [a] Green sea turtle' who is still recalled in 'one old Hawaiian song.' In a telling moment, right after asking Isabel if she believes in her own family legend, he responds to her denial with 'you still believe it, you just can't tell anybody' (65). Like Isabel, Marshall is a singer of the old songs of his people. Unlike her, he has inherited from his Scottish astronomer father a weak heart. It is when that heart fails him and the donor heart which is his only hope of survival is bruised in transit and also fails, that the radical procedure that gives the novel its title is introduced.
A large baboon heart replaces the failed transplant and, against all odds, brings Matthew back to life. When he finds out what has happened, he pronounces the situation'I'm part baboon''creepy' (87, 89). Isabel, visiting him after the orperation, long before the possibility of zenotransplantation being another form of shapeshifting occurs to her, responds intuitively to the presence of the baboon sacrificed to save Matthew's life: she feels that familiar dread she usually sensed when an animal was in danger (91). Later, as he finds himself privy to the baboon's past, even to the nameSol--his band had given him when it accepted him, Matthew sees that the strange dreams and visions he is experiencing are the memories of the baboon whose heart is now so crucial a part of his body. Marian Windhorse Grey, less than surprised by what has surfaced, comments: If Marshall would listen to the part of him that still belongs to his mother's people, he'd at least have an eldera kaluna , or medicine personto show him how to cross over into the animals' world. Shamans were the first healers. Their medicine is older than Western science (180).
Irene Feinstein, a fellow transplant patient, much younger and more open than Marshall, has no problem accepting that she is now 'part pig' and Marshall, 'part baboon' (99). It is Irene who takes Marshall to the local zoo's primate center to meet his baboon relatives, creatures he learns in an overheard comment are 'capable of abstract thought' and were held sacred by the Egyptians who believed that Toth, the baboon god, knew all. It was he who weighed the soul of the dead (117). Irene's animal activism as well as the empathy for the baboons Marshall develops, weave yet another thematic concernanimal experimentation and the use of animal parts for transplant--into the web of Peterson's amazing novel.
Interestingly, Peterson had originally intended to allow Sol, the baboon whose heart now beats in Marshall's chest, to narrate, through Marshall, the portion of the novel that recalls his past. Her editor, however, advised her to stay with the human narrator, because the novel was too important to risk push[ing] people over the edge with [so radical] a point of view (Howard interview: (a href="http://www.bookpassage.com/author_interviews/petersonBrenda.html">http://www.bookpassage.com/author_interviews/petersonBrenda.html). (Copeland H-NILAS Review).
Captivity begins as several chimpanzees escape from the South Carolina Primate Project, a sanctuary for liberated laboratory apes located near a rural community. This is of special concern because several of the apes are diseased and one has been driven mad by his experiences in the labs. The story behind the escape forms the backbone of the novel's complicated plot, all of which relate to the novel's major themes. Abuse and captivity. The director of the sanctuary, primatologist Dana Armstrong, is herself the survivor of her psychologist father's language experiment. Both she and her infant brother and the chimpanzee infant, Annie, were raised together and encouraged to communicate in ASL as well as spoken language. In Dana's mind the other two are equally her siblings and Annie's abrupt disappearance when she became what the Armstrongs saw as a danger to their human children remains an echoing emotional wound. The history of the three Armstrong children, preserved in detail on films, has become a part of every primate studies program.
Dana's early experience as a subject of scientific study has made her empathy with her current charges especially compelling. Wesselman has had no comparable experience. She came to her subject after reading a brief article about female primatologists who taught captive baby chimps how to behave around their own species, an experience reflected in the novel as Dana and her assistant attempt, to what extent that is possible, to prepare their new resident apes to enter into one of the two chimpanzee cultures the Project's grounds has room to house. Wesselmann spent about a year researching chimpanzee behavior before attempting to create chimpanzee characters, research that intensified while she was writing the novel. She credits Goodall's In the Shadow of Man , Roger Fouts' Next of Kin , and Franz de Waal's Chimpanzee Politics and Chimpanzee Culture , as well as her work on the animal rights movement and the illegal marketing of exotic species for an earlier novella, Vibrissa which explores the theme of animal rights. I have no proof that her research led her to Preston's novel Jennie but the thematic parallels between his chimpanzee's story and Wesselmann's Annie's (and of course between both these novels and the titular character of Daniel Quinn's by now iconic Ishmael ) would suggest she had.
I found it disappointing
that, unlike Preston and Quinn, Wesselmann fails to make
as much the story of its nonhuman primate characters as of its human primates.
When she discusses point of view in the Readers Guide provided by the novel's
publisher, Wesselmann admits she favors strong woman [characters] like
also occasionally write[s] from the point of view of men, as
. She does not discuss the possibility of writing from the nunhuman
point of view. Even when Dana finds that one of the new chimps seems to know
sign language, her determination to break the Project apes of identifying with
humans prevents her from asking for and possibly learning the chimp's story
from her own perspective. In contrast to Preston, who takes his readers into
the tormented mind of the adult captive Jennie. Wesselmann's readers know the
chimpanzees at the Primate Project only through the eyes and minds of the
novel's human characters. Because they are, for the most part, trained
primatologists, one would like to suppose theirs would be objective and
unbiased perspectives, but of course the reader is haunted by both the language
experiments recalled in
and the debilitating laboratory procedures that have left the chimpanzees
Wesselmann's Dana is able to protect maimed in mind and body.
According to HSUS's Michael Markarian's Animals & Politics blog as of 18 April 2008 1,200 chimpanzee are still used in U. S. laboratories and the U. S. remains the largest user of chimpanzees in biomedical research, as England, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Australia, and Japan have all banned or limited their use. Some chimps have been languishing in labs for more than 40 years, confined in steel cages for most of their lives and enduring sometimes painful and distressing experimental procedures despite the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act Congress passed in 2000 and upgraded in 2007. That upgrade was meant to insure that chimps, once in sanctuary, could not be placed back into research.
But there is, as Wesselmann's novel recognizes, a paradox inherent in our efforts to save these and other abused beings. Despite our efforts, they will never exist outside of captivity. Similarly, endangered or threatened wild animals protected in wild life parks and reserves also survive in captivity and, should they escape, will be returned or killed as are the chimpanzees at the beginning of Captivity . Quinn's Ishmael tells his human students that all beings who live by the laws of Mother Culture are equally captive. Can any of us, under those strictures live as free beings with certain inalienable rights? Or is survival inherently dependant on remaining in captivity? And, if that is so, should any endangered species, including our own, be prevented from determining its own fate (or taking its own chances) as have all the species that lived and disappeared before us and have lived and disappeared unnoticed all around us ever since? (Copeland review)
The finalists for the U.K.'s prestigious Man Booker Prize this year include new novels by Nobel winner J.M. Coetzee, A.S. Byatt, and Me, Cheeta , a 'memoir' by the chimpanzee star of 1930s Tarzan movies (published in the U.S. on March). British writer James Lever is actually the uncredited author of the book, a satire of golden-age Hollywood that boasts cameos by Esther Williams and Errol Flynn. But if Me, Cheeta actually wins, can it still be called the Man Booker Prize? (Geier 62).
In his review in The Guardian , Nicholas Lezard confirms that This Chimp's a Champ claiming that what he first took for a tiresome rip-off; ooh, the chimpanzee who starred in the Tarzan movies hasho ho!written a book! turned out to be the most audacious, funny and even moving novel that I have come across in years .And the prose well, no wonder people were wondering whether Will Self or Martin Amis were behind the pseudonym (only revealed some time after publication. There are sign, incidentally, that Lever has read, and tried not to overlap with, Self's splendid Great Apes ). The prose is impeccablesupple, intelligent, penetrating, vigorous. A delight to read.2010 Sara Gruen. The Ape House . Highly anticipated novel by the author of Water for Elephants .
Prepared by: Marion W. Copeland, 128 Amherst Road, Pelham, MA 01002: