The Woman And The Ape (Panther) Paperback – 7 Aug 1997
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"The Woman and the Ape has many arrestingly stylish and inventive passages and an overall brilliance of tone that shows once again the originality of Mr. Hoeg's voice" (New York Times)
"No imaginative writer working today is any more daring than Danish novelist Peter Hoeg... An utterly original mix of fantasy, fable, myth, and love story" (Backlist)
"Høeg is a writer determined to make new footprints in the snow" (Guardian)
From the author of international success Smilla’s Sense of Snow, comes a brilliant, hilarious and thought-provoking love story, which unites fantasy, fable, and myth with reality, and a woman with an ape.See all Product description
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The ape, named Erasmus, is actually more intelligent than the men who are testing him secretly at the estate of Adam Burden, a zoolological research director. When Madelene, Burden's alcoholic wife, discovers Erasmus, she helps him escape, and the two go off together. Establishing their own Garden of Eden in a protected forest outside of London, Erasmus and Madelene enjoy seven weeks of mutual discovery, learning, and eventually love, hidden from the outside world. When Erasmus learns to speak English and Madelene's native language, Danish, the two return to London.
Hoeg is brutally satiric of British society and academia as Adam Burden, his evil sister Andrea, the scientific community, the smuggling network, and virtually all other humans are shown to be arrogant in their assumptions about the relationship of men and animals. They will be taught an object lesson, and Madelene and Erasmus are only too happy to provide it. Themes of freedom vs. captivity (real and symbolic), man's role in the evolutionary scheme of things, and the fragility of the environment are developed, none too subtly, as the ape proves his superiority to "civilized" humanity. When asked what he calls the other members of his species, Erasmus replies, "People," indicating that humans would be considered "animals" where he lives.
This satire/sci-fi novel, though intriguing, is strange, becoming even stranger with its interspecies love affair. Madelene is a shallow character with no charm, more apt to lose her inhibitions as a result of alcohol than from any deep feeling. Structurally, the novel falls into two parts--the arrival of the ape, his discovery by Madelene, and their escape, which has some hilarious and even empathetic moments to it--followed by their idyll in a nature preserve and their return to London, a section which is very didactic, fraught with environmental messages and social criticism.
The conclusion, which incorporates many surprises, is a dramatically appropriate tour de force, which outweighs many of the novel's other problems. Perhaps too long to carry the burden of its message, Hoeg's novel is still daring and full of unique images and twists--the product of a creative author whose next novel I eagerly await. Mary Whipple
It is unique and exciting and gives us a great fly on the wall view of contempoary society. Even makes you re-evaluate what you consider is your own humanity and think about mans treatment of other sentient beings.
The amazing portrayal of the central characters and their twisted lives was not only clever but brilliantly written.
I found myself truly wondering about the world, I urge you to as well.
The situation can be absurd, as long as the people have depth. The the lack of depth of the characters is demonstrated by the woman curing her alcoholism on a whim.
All that and it's still an OK book, a fine narrative, but somehow I expected more from Hoeg.
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