Dreaming Jungles

Michel Rio, Author Pantheon Books $10.95 (113p) ISBN 978-0-394-55661-1
The unnamed narrator of this elegant, philosophical tale is a paragon of the French aristocracy who travels to the jungles of Africa in 1913 to study chimpanzees. There, much to his surprise, he falls madly in love with Lady Jane Savile, the brilliant, lusty leader of an English animal-study expedition who posits that altruism among animals is an extension of self-preservationin other words, that some animals sacrifice themselves to enemies to protect their relatives only because the relatives will propagate their common genes. Neither the narrator nor Savile seems able to reconcile passion with their rational, scientific natures, and when the narrator goes into the jungle alone to observe chimpanzees, he is reduced to an animal state, where he ""had to learn to detect without delaythat is to say without thinking, something made possible by a kind of permanent suspicion.'' At the end of the tale, he returns to Savile's camp, and events occur that make humanity seem not far removed from the animal world. Challenging if at times difficult to digest. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1987
Release date: 04/01/1987
Paperback - 113 pages - 978-0-394-75035-4
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