Other Selves: Animals in the Canadian Literary Imagination begins with the premise, first suggested by Margaret Atwood in The Animals in That Country (1968), that animals have occupied a peculiarly central position in the Canadian imagination. Unlike the longer-settled countries of Europe or the more densely-populated United States, in Canada animals have always been the loved and feared co-inhabitants of this harsh, beautiful land. From the realistic animal tales of Charles G. D. Roberts and Ernest Thompson Seton, to the urban animals of Marshall Saunders and Dennis Lee, to the lyrical observations of bird enthusiasts John James Audubon, Thomas McIlwraith, and Don McKay, animals have occupied a key place in Canadian literature, focusing central aspects of our environmental consciousness and cultural symbolism. Other Selves explores how and what the animals in this country have meant through all genres and periods of Canadian writing, focusing sometimes on individual texts and at other times on broader issues. Tackling more than a century of writing, from 19th-century narrative of women travellers, to the natural conversion of Grey Owl, to the award-winning novels of Farley Mowat, Marian Engel, Timothy Findley, Barbara Gowdy, and Yann Martel, these essays engage the reader in this widely-acknowledged but inadequately-explored aspect of Canadian literature.
Janice Fiamengo is an associate professor of English at the University of Ottawa. She specializes in Canadian literature and has published widely on early Canadian writers.
"Other Selves makes a sustained contribution to the critical discourse of animals and literature." -- The Year's Work in English Studies
"Other Selves: Animals in the Canadian Literary Imagination offers an excellent and much-needed collection of essays about Canada’s literary creatures. Despite all of the ink spilled on the Canadian relationship to nature and the wilderness... few, if any, other collections or monographs devote themselves exclusively to the representation of animals in Canadian writing. This collection therefore fills an important gap in the study of Canadian literature. And it does so quite thoroughly, offering fifteen high-quality articles with a wide variety of approaches to a diverse array of animal texts." -- The Bulf Calf Review