To our modern ears the word “creature” has wild, musky, even monstrous, connotations. And yet the terms “creaturely” and “love,” taken together, have traditionally been associated with theological debates around the enigmatic affection between God and His key creation, Man. In Creaturely Love, Dominic Pettman explores the ways in which desire makes us both more, and less, human.
In an eminently approachable work of wide cultural reach and meticulous scholarship, Pettman undertakes an unprecedented examination of how animals shape the understanding and expression of love between people. Focusing on key figures in modern philosophy, art, and literature (Nietzsche, Salomé, Rilke, Balthus, Musil, Proust), premodern texts and fairy tales (Fourier, Fournival, Ovid), and contemporary films and online phenomena (Wendy and Lucy, Her, memes), Pettman demonstrates that from pet names to spirit animals, and allegories to analogies, animals have constantly appeared in our writings and thoughts about passionate desire.
By following certain charismatic animals during their passage through the love letters of philosophers, the romances of novelists, the conceits of fables, the epiphanies of poets, the paradoxes of contemporary films, and the digital menageries of the Internet, Creaturely Love ultimately argues that in our utilization of the animal in our amorous expression, we are acknowledging that what we adore in our beloveds is not (only) their humanity, but their creatureliness.
Introduction: On the Stupidity of Oysters
1. Divining Creaturely Love
2. Horsing Around: The Marriage Blanc of Nietzsche, Andreas-Salomé, and Rée
3. Groping for an Opening: Rilke between Animal and Angel
4. Electric Caresses: Rilke, Balthus, and Mitsou
5. Between Perfection and Temptation: Musil, Claudine, and Veronica
6. The Biological Travesty
7. “The Creature Whom We Love”: Proust and Jealousy
8. The Love Tone: Capture and Captivation
9. “The Soft Word That Comes Deceiving”: Fournival’s Bestiary of Love
10. The Cuckold and the Cockatrice: Fourier and Hazlitt
11. The Animal Bride and Horny Toads
12. Unsettled Being: Ovid’s Metamorphoses
13. Fickle Metaphysics
14. Nymphomania and Faunication
15. Senseless Arabesques: Wendy and Lucy
16. The Goat in the Machine (A Reprise)
Conclusion: On Cetaceous Maidens
Epilogue: Animal Magnetism and Alternative Currents (or Tesla and the White Dove)