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On Refusal

  • Benjamin Westwood
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)

Abstract

This essay proposes that refusal is at the centre of vegan modes of being in the world. Noting the frequency with which refusal is connected with tragedy, Westwood explores a diverse range of vegan and non-vegan examples of this association—ranging from Melville’s iconic “Bartleby, the Scrivener” through Thoreau, Christina Rossetti, Franz Kafka, and Margaret Atwood to Han Kang’s recent The Vegetarian—and proposes instead a non-tragic “grammar of refusal.” From within familiar scenes of anti-social withdrawal and heroic resistance, he recovers a less melodramatic, less combative understanding of refusal in the language used to make them. This provides, he suggests, a truer and more usable reflection of the daily negotiations and repeated declinations that shape vegan forms of life.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Westwood
    • 1
  1. 1.Wadham CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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