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"By nature volatile and discordant, the human animal looks to silence for relief from being itself while other creatures enjoy silence as their birthright."
In a book by turns chilling and beautiful, John Gray continues the thinking that made his Straw Dogs such a cult classic.
Gray draws on an extraordinary array of memoirs, poems, fiction, and philosophy to reimagine our place in the world. Writers as varied as Ballard, Borges, Freud, and Conrad have been mesmerized by forms of human extremity—experiences on the outer edge of the possible or that tip into fantasy and myth. What happens to us when we starve, when we fight, when we are imprisoned? And how do our imaginations leap into worlds way beyond our real experience?
The Silence of Animals is consistently fascinating, filled with unforgettable images and a delight in the conundrum of our existence—an existence that we decorate with countless myths and ideas, where we twist and turn to avoid acknowledging that we too are animals, separated from the others perhaps only by our self-conceit. In the Babel we have created for ourselves, it is the silence of animals that both reproaches and bewitches us.
“Nothing will get you thinking as much as this brilliant book.”—George Walden, The Sunday Telegraph
“[Gray] blends lyricism with wisdom, humour with admonition, nay-saying with affirmation, making in the process a marvellous statement of what it is to be both an animal and a human in the strange, terrifying and exquisite world into which we straw dogs find ourselves thrown.”—John Banville, The Guardian
“A work of modern philosophy that is no less readable and compelling for being rigorously bleak."—Publishers Weekly
John Gray is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including The Immortalization Commission, Black Mass, and Straw Dogs. A regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, he is Emeritus Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics.