Sorry my posts have been a little sporadic of late – I’m afraid that’s going to continue for a while, as I’m off on several exciting little trips – to Momentum (a Christian student camp thing), a couple of friends’ weddings, and Youth Hostelling with the Carbon Copy. Will try and get a few quick ‘hello’s in when I’m near a computer, but otherwise… To placate you, Patch has made a return, in cartoon form.
Anyway, plenty of books to chat about before I head away. And when writing about Three Men In A Boat, I got thinking about animals in literature – Montmorency the dog being rather a wonderfully comic creation… Animals must be quite a tricky thing to pull off successfully in a novel, especially if they’re made to speak – even the idea of introducing animals to a book brings out all sorts of unpleasant connotations of whimsy and saccharine kittens (actually, I can never dislike kittens in any context; throw more of ’em into novels, I say). When done well, though, novelistic pets can be witty, illuminating about the other characters, and a very valid contribution to literature. My favourite has to be the cat in Ivy Compton-Burnett’s Mother and Son – sardonic, selfish and unfeeling, he is the most sympathetic character in the novel. Any other animal favourites?
…and so, of course, I went to scout out some other books on my shelves. To be honest, the chosen tomes merely have animals in their titles, but that’s a valid alternative…
1. Tortoise by Candlelight – Nina Bawden
2. The House of the Deer – DE Stevenson
3. Lady Into Fox – David Garnett
4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
5. Toad of Toad Hall – AA Milne
6. Mr. Fox – Barbara Comyns
7. Flaubert’s Parrot – Julian Barnes
8. Love Among The Chickens – PG Wodehouse (my personal favourite title!)
9. Performing Flea – PG Wodehouse
10. Lobster Salad – Lynne Doyle
11. The Go-Away Bird – Muriel Spark
12. Animal Farm – George Orwell
So… which is your favourite animal in literature? And any other titles to contribute?