Hunter and the Hunted : A Bakhtinian Reading of Zoomorphic Instances in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för språk (SPR)

Abstract: In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, the city of Las Vegasrepresents a country that is torn between the flippant capitalism and the dream ofprogress on the one hand, and the need to come closer to your own humanity on theother. Critics have had much interest in the novel and Thompson’s personal relation toit, although they have not treated the dynamic of zoomorphism that informs therelationship between man and animal of the whole novel and how the animal representdifferent values depending on circumstance. This essay provides a new approach to theideas of animalism and to Thompson’s relation to it, and the analysis examines thenovel’s representation of the relation between society, man and animal and how it canbe connected to contemporary 1972 political and personal relations. This essay’s aim isto investigate how the novel through a Bakhtinian carnival reading, together withaforementioned concept of zoomorphism, handles the issue of the underlyinganimalistic tendencies of humans and how those tendencies can represent differentthings depending on context.First, I begin with a description of the concepts and theories of significance that shall beof use in the analysis, mainly that of the Bakhtinian concept of the carnival and to alesser extent Wendy Doniger’s take on zoomorphism, which will then be connectedwith instances in the novel that handles the issue of man and animal coexistence.

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