Visions of Caliban: Of Chimpanzees, Humans, and the Honored Shape

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In an unusual collaboration, historian Peterson ( The Deluge and the Ark ) and anthropologist Goodall ( In the Shadow of Man ) explore human-chimpanzee relationships, beginning with a look at the interaction of the primitive chimpanzee-like figure of Caliban and the powerful Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest . Peterson reports on the current conservation situation; he gives a chilling account of the illicit international trade, and of the animals used as pets and in the entertainment business. It is an ugly story. Goodall discusses ethical issues associated with our treatment of chimpanzees in captivity, focusing on biomedical laboratories. She advocates legislation to prohibit private ownership of great apes, to prevent their use in entertainment and to phase them out of medical research. Both authors draw on personal observation and experience to make a powerful statement for humane treatment of these close-to-human creatures. (Mar.)
Library Journal
In this sequel to his book about endangered primates, The Deluge and the Ark ( LJ 9/1/89), Tufts English professor Peterson uses Shakespeare's The Tempest as an extended allegory of the relationship between chimpanzees (Caliban) and humans (Prospero). Goodall's comments and recollections are inserted in italics throughout the text, which takes us from the remaining chimpanzee population in the wild and their capture and mistreatment in Africa to their use and abuse in the West as pets, entertainment figures, research subjects, and captives in zoos. Much of this material is heartrending, especially the accounts of chimps raised as humans, taught sign language, and then relegated to research labs or rehabilitation colonies in Africa. By the end of the book, readers will agree with Goodall's recommendations that the use of chimps for pets, entertainment, and research be outlawed and their remaining habitats preserved. This book suffers a bit from some incomprehensible accounts of legal proceedings, the belabored Caliban analogy, and Peterson's weakness in science (at one point, Goodall must gently correct his enthusiastic comparison of tool use by chimps with the purely instinctive behavior of birds and insects). Overall, however, this is a gripping account of an extremely important subject and essential for all libraries.-- Beth Clewis, Prince William P.L., Va.
This collaborative work on humans' attitudes toward chimps (generally demeaning) shows Peterson's and Goodall's writing in two different typefaces to distinguish them. The appendices present the conservation status of the chimpanzees of Africa in 1990, and reprint (from the Journal of Medical Primatology) recommendations to the USDA on improving conditions of psychological well-being for captive chimpanzees. Inexplicably, the book lacks an index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Donna Seaman
Dale Peterson, author of "The Deluge and the Ark" (1989), and chimp expert Jane Goodall join forces to articulate the consequences of our abuse of chimpanzees, a sibling species with whom we share 98 percent of our genetic code. While Peterson has done the bulk of the writing, Goodall's vivid contributions reflect her unequalled experience with and knowledge of chimpanzees. Shakespeare's creature Caliban, from "The Tempest", serves as the book's guiding metaphor. Shakespeare wrote this play shortly after the first reports of the existence of apes in Africa reached Europe, and he raised many complex issues about the European attitude toward animals and other civilizations. An intriguing literary analysis sets the moral tone of the investigative reporting that follows. Peterson and Goodall regale us with examples of the emotional sophistication of chimpanzees and the richness of chimp "culture," which includes instruction in the creation and use of tools and the ingestion of plants for medicinal purposes. Once our close kinship is established, they hit us with the horrors of life for chimps both in the rapidly shrinking wild and in various forms of captivity. Africa's human population explosion, over-hunting, and deforestation as well as the appalling live-chimpanzee trade are driving chimps to the brink of extinction. As Peterson and Goodall reveal the distressing circumstances under which chimps are kept as pets, trained as entertainers, and used in research facilities, we are faced with irrefutable evidence of our selfishness and cruelty. Riveting and illuminating, this is an important book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395537602
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 2/8/1993
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall

JANE GOODALL was born in London on April 3, 1934 and grew up in Bournemouth, on the southern coast of England. In 1960 she began studying chimpanzees in the wild in Gombe, Tanganyika (now Tarzania). After receiving her doctorate in ethology at Cambridge University, Dr. Goodall founded the Gombe Stream Research Center for the study of chimpanzees and baboons. In 1975 she established the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation to promote animal research throughout the world.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Sounds and Sweet Airs 6
2 Man or Fish? 9
3 To Snare the Nimble Marmoset 27
4 Caliban's Island 49
5 What, Ho! Slave! 70
6 No Doubt Marketable 87
7 The Stuff of Dreams 131
8 To Laugh, to Beat 157
9 In Mine Own Cell 182
10 Endowed with Words, Confined in Rock 203
11 I Acknowledge Mine 230
12 Our Pardon 284
Appendix A: The Chimpanzees of Africa 313
Appendix B: Recommendations to USDA 314
Acknowledgments 320
Notes 325
References 348
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