Housebreaking the human animal: Humanism and the problem of sustainability in Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake and the year of the flood

Hannes Bergthaller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article discusses Margaret Atwood's novels Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood in the context of sustainability. The novels present the ecological crisis as arising from flaws in humanity's biological make-up; sustainability is thus a question of housebreaking the human animal, that is, of aligning human behaviour to the requirements of the planetary oikos. Through her protagonists, Atwood explores possible answers to this question which can be understood as anthropotechnologies in the sense outlined by Peter Sloterdijk in his controversial essay "Rules for the Human Zoo". Similar to the latter, Atwood's novels arrive at a qualified humanism informed by evolutionary biology and disenchanted with human nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)728-743
Number of pages16
JournalEnglish Studies
Volume91
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Nov
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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