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

  • Timothy C. Baker
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


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

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy C. Baker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of English and Film Studies University of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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