Encountering the Posthuman Animal: Revisiting Dian Fossey’s Gorillas in the Mist

Claudia Alonso Recarte


Posthumanist theory has rendered possible the rereading of texts that have until now been subjected to more traditional humanist critiques. By opening new exegetical dimensions through which to approach the literary artifact, we can not only challenge speciesist assumptions but also revisit the implications of both literary conventions and literary theory. The aim of this paper is to present an alternative, posthumanist interpretation of Dian Fossey’s Gorillas in the Mist (1983) so as to analyze the manner by which the de-voiced nonhuman others are rendered as full biographical subjects that rise above the humanist emphasis on speech and reason. I begin with a critical overview of the posthumanist challenge and of the dialectical resistance imposed by humanist ideology. I then turn to an in-depth analysis of Gorillas in the Mist as an example of literary defiance of humanism. Through a series of rhetorical strategies, Fossey finds a way through which to speak the gorillas, at the same time as she relocates her own condition as a human within a space where a new form of encountering the other is possible.

Keywords: posthumanism; Dian Fossey; primatology; (auto)biography; (animal) consciousness

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