Hackenfeller's Ape

Hackenfeller's Ape

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Author: Brigid Brophy

Publisher: Faber Editions

Paperback

“I dare say there’s no more cruelty now than there used to be. But it’s not natural anymore. It’s not unthinking cruelty; it’s neurotic cruelty. War goes on for the same excuses, but it’s suddenly become a problem.”

Hackenfeller’s Ape was the first novel by legend & icon, Brigid Brophy, written in 1953 and republished this year through Faber Editions. It’s a short book and its main concern is human/animal dynamics. On one hand, there’s the professor who is studying mating between an unwilling male ape and a horny and despairing female ape in Regents Park Zoo, all the while projecting his own insecurities onto the relationship. On the other, there’s the handsome and mysterious military type who tells the professor that his organisation has bought the male ape to send to space. Scheming ensues as the professor tries to save his beloved ape from oblivion. It’s a funny and sometimes bizarre satire about how modern society brushes aside morality for notions of human progress and how slippery morality can be when it is confused for intellectual authority.