“More human than others”: Stevie Smith and the Inner Lives of Pets

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Although Stevie Smith repeatedly acknowledges that humans cannot picture the minds of nonhuman animals, she also repeatedly asserts that contemporary petkeeping practices have troubling psychological effects. Examining how she negotiates these beliefs-and her fascination with animals-offers another way of considering her famously shifty stance toward meaning. That shiftiness is made visible in guarded depictions of several domestic animals, especially in “The Galloping Cat,” a late poem that speaks from a cat's perspective; it bridges Smith's strong convictions and equally strong uncertainty. Smith sees people as relentlessly constructing inner lives for animals; through pets, she articulates a view of the human based in constant misreading. At the same time, however, she points out that our attempts to imagine these other subjectivities may have damaging consequences for animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Modern Literature
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • Stevie Smith
  • animals
  • domestication
  • modern poetry


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