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“It’s a Question of Words, Therefore”: Becoming-Animal in Michel Faber’s Under the Skin

Sarah Dillon
Science Fiction Studies
Vol. 38, No. 1, Slipstream (March 2011), pp. 134-154
Published by: SF-TH Inc
DOI: 10.5621/sciefictstud.38.1.0134
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5621/sciefictstud.38.1.0134
Page Count: 21
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“It’s a Question of Words, Therefore”: Becoming-Animal in Michel Faber’s Under the Skin
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Abstract

ABSTRACT This essay reads Michel Faber’s debut novel Under the Skin (2000) in the context of contemporary philosophical and literary-critical debates about the ethical relation between human and nonhuman animals. It argues that Faber’s text engages with, but deconstructs, the traditional division of “no language, no subjectivity” by a heretical act of renaming human beings as “vodsels,” and by an extensive process of figurative transformation. The paper then proceeds to a sustained analysis of the main character in the novel, Isserley, in the light of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s theories of becoming-animal, the anomalous, and becoming-molecular. The paper concludes that the novel engages in the limitrophy—Derrida’s neologism—required to negotiate the abyssal limit between the human and nonhuman animal.

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