Dark Humorous Mode in Anthropocene Fictions: A Contemporary Carnival of Victorian Grotesques in Liz Jensen’s Arc Baby
Among various other human-induced ecological threats featured in the Anthropocene, species extinction occupies a particularly critical place. Already exhausted with dark, depressive and pessimistic environmental projections, the literary reflections of the Anthropocene are usually as depressing as the scientific denotations of the concept. In Ark Baby (1998), the British novelist Liz Jensen mixes two distinct literary genres: seriousness of dystopia and humorousness of comedy in an attempt to satirize the anthropocentric mentality and human hubris. Jensen deploys the nineteenth century theories of evolution in the Anthropocene context, and engages with the co-evolution of humans and nonhuman animals. Jensen’s dark humorous tone in Ark Baby is set by the grotesque portrayals of ecologically challenged humans and nonhumans.Swinging between the parallel timespans of the nineteenth century Victorian (1845) and the twenty-first century Britain (2005), Arc Baby rewrites the biblical and scientific stories of creation from the perspective of a newly assumed “humanimal” hybrid identity. Within this framework, this paper explores the human-animal entanglements in the Anthropocene facing the species extinction and discuss the effectiveness of humour to express the serious Anthropocenic concerns.
Keywords: Liz Jensen, Ark Baby, the Anthropocene, dystopia, Cli-Fi, satire, species extinction, human-animal entanglements, grotesque
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