On Tails and Tales: Animals, Ethics and Storytelling in Yann Martel's Beatrice and Virgil

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Deemed “misconceived and offensive” by critic Michiko Kakutani, Yann Martel’s novel Beatrice and Virgil was widely criticized for its construction of an ambiguous allegory that appears to compare animal suffering to the Holocaust. In this article, I advance an alternative reading of Martel’s novel, identifying a double-ended allegory that illuminates both the Holocaust and animal suffering and a simultaneous critique of the allegorical method. I situate the latter within the context of Holocaust writing, arguing that Martel’s novel demands that we question both the nature of ethics and the responsibility of storytelling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-51
Number of pages11
JournalCritique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction
Issue number1
Early online date30 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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