This chapter explores texts where an emblematic beast figura suffers violence, oppression, abandonment, exploitation on the part of the stronger, where the narratives stage an allegory of man’s relationship with the defenceless and harmless Other, through a rich web of literary (Milton, Keats, Blake, Shakespeare, Conrad, Melville, Stevenson), biblical (Genesis, Apocalypse, Gospels), and iconographic references. It begins by examining a passage from ‘Piccolo drago (conversazione)’ (1984), which can be viewed as providing an archetype for Ortese’s ethical stance concerning the supremacy and cruelty of man, which is more broadly explored in the sections on Ortese’s major animal novels. The sections on L’Iguana (1965) and Alonso e i visionari (1996) each begin by investigating the intricate issues of genres, then explore the complexities inherent in the fantastical and yet powerfully engagé representation of man’s encounter and dealing with the Other, the Other’s suffering, and man’s journey through awareness and ultimately expiation.
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