At the beginning of the twentieth century, the wild animal story emerged in Canadian literature as a distinct genre, in which animals pursue their own interests—survival for themselves, their offspring, and perhaps a mate, or the pure pleasure of their wildness.
Bringing together some of the most celebrated wild animal stories, Ralph H. Lutts places them firmly in the context of heated controversies about animal intelligence and purposeful behavior. Widely regarded as entertaining and educational, the early stories—by Charles G. D. Roberts, Ernest Thompson Seton, John Muir, Jack London and others—had an avid readership among adults and children. But some naturalists and at least one hunter—Theodore Roosevelt—discredited these writers as "nature fakers," accusing them of falsely portraying animal behavior.
The stories and commentaries collected here span the twentieth century. As present day animal behaviorists, psychologists, and the public attempt to sort out the meaning of what animals do and our obligations to them, Ralph Lutts maps some of the prominent features of our cultural landscape.
The Springfield Fox by Ernest Thompson Seton
The Sounding of the Call by Jack London
Stickeen by John Muir
Journey to the Sea by Rachel Carson
Other selections include esssays by Theoore Roosevelt, John Burroughs, Margaret Atwood, and Ralph H. Lutts.