Primater emellan. En läsning av Henry Drummonds berättelse ’’Apan som ingen kunde döda’’
‘‘The anthropocentric primate. A species discursive reading of the story ‘The monkey that would not kill.’’’ In children’s literature nonhuman primates are often represented either as ferocious beasts or as curios and charmful vicarious children. In this article I demonstrate how these different constructions interestingly coexist in the popular story ‘‘The monkey that would not kill’’, written by the Scottish evangelist and professor of the natural sciences Henry Drummond in 1891. My study anchors the figuration of the monstrous ape historically in a Christian discourse and the figuration of the childlike ape in a zoological discourse, and link them to the literary genres of horror and comedy, respectively. Both of the figurations are anthropocentric in their reductive ways of representing the ape as strange enemy or subordinate ‘‘friend’’: they confirm the hierarchic dualism between man and ape. My reading also points out the excessive passion that characterizes the meeting between the species in the story, as a kind of leakage from the dualism. In light of Giorgio Agamben’s concept of the ‘‘anthropological machine’’, I conclude the article reflecting on the human shepherd’s energetic attempts to kill the animal not only as an act of domination, but also as bearing witness to the obsession with ‘‘experimenting’’ with other primates, in order to consolidate a human species identity.
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