Melancholia's Dog: Reflections On Our Animal Kinship

Paperback | October 17, 2013

byAlice A. Kuzniar

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Bred to provide human companionship, dogs eclipse all other species when it comes to reading the body language of people. Dog owners hunger for a complete rapport with their pets; in the dog the fantasy of empathetic resonance finds its ideal. But cross-species communication is never easy. Dog love can be a precious but melancholy thing.

An attempt to understand human attachment to the canis familiaris in terms of reciprocity and empathy, Melancholia’sDog tackles such difficult concepts as intimacy and kinship with dogs, the shame associated with identification with their suffering, and the reasons for the profound mourning over their deaths. In addition to philosophy and psychoanalysis, Alice A. Kuzniar turns to the insights and images offered by the literary and visual arts—the short stories of Ivan Turgenev and Franz Kafka, the novels of J. M. Coetzee and Rebecca Brown, the photography of Sally Mann and William Wegman, and the artwork of David Hockney and Sue Coe. Without falling into sentimentality or anthropomorphization, Kuzniar honors and learns from our canine companions, above all attending to the silences and sadness brought on by the effort to represent the dog as perfectly and faithfully as it is said to love.

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From the Publisher

Bred to provide human companionship, dogs eclipse all other species when it comes to reading the body language of people. Dog owners hunger for a complete rapport with their pets; in the dog the fantasy of empathetic resonance finds its ideal. But cross-species communication is never easy. Dog love can be a precious but melancholy thin...

Alice A. Kuzniar is professor in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

other books by Alice A. Kuzniar

Format:PaperbackDimensions:226 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:October 17, 2013Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022610270X

ISBN - 13:9780226102702

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Muteness
2. Shame
3. Intimacy
4. Mourning
Notes
Works Cited
Index

Editorial Reviews

“This is probably the first time that a scholar of Kuzniar’s ability has shown the courage to tackle the deeper aspects of our relationship with dogs. . . . Our dogs are metaphors for ourselves, something that many of us may have long suspected, but because the idea had never been articulated, or not fully, perhaps we did not appreciate the fact. Or perhaps we didn’t want to face it. Thanks to Alice A. Kuzniar, we know it now.”