This study concerns the city dweller. Morris finds remarkable similarities with captive zoo animals and looks closely at the aggressive, sexual and parental behaviour of the human species under the stresses and pressures of urban living.
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(198mm x 129mm x 12mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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US Kirkus Review »
This is a highly readable but thoroughly irritating book. Morris is a forceful stylist but the same quick flow of discourse which can be insightful about modern society often edges over into blunt absolutes or dire predictions open to question. In a chapter discussing man's reaction to too little or too much stimulation, for example, he remarks, "In infancy there is the example of prolonged thumb-sucking, which results from too little contact and inter-action with the mother." Or in a chapter dealing with race relations ("In-Groups and Out-Groups") he blithely says, "A second American Civil War seems to be imminent." in essence Morris' point is that life on our over-humanly crowded planet mimics the unnatural existence of captive animals in zoos. Under such conditions animals may become homosexual, change their eating and sleeping habits, pace to and fro, get bored, enraged, break down. It follows then that "natural" man in "unnatural" society exhibits the same aberrations for the same reasons: isolation, restriction of territory, lack of stimulation, etc. But man today is not the sum of all mammalian or even higher primate behavior, nor are his sexual behavior patterns or his need for stimulation neatly contained in ten phases of six principles. It is this kind of constant reductio ad absurdum that weakens the value and invites the kind of controversy Morris' books have generally provoked. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Desmond Morris
Desmond Morris was born in Wiltshire in 1928. After gaining a degree in zoology from Birmimgham University, he obtained his D. Phil. from the University of Oxford. He became Curator of Mammals at London Zoo in 1959, a post he held for eight years. He was already the author of some fifty scientific papers and seven books before completing The Naked Ape in 1967, which was to sell over 10 million copies throughout the world and be translated into almost every known language. Desmond Morris has made many television programmes and films on human and animal behaviour, his friendly and accessible approach making him popular with both adults and children, and he is now one of the best-known presenters of natural history programmes. He is also an accomplished artists and his books inlcude The Biology of Art, The Art of Ancient Cyprus and The Secret Surrealist, as well as his familiar series of Manwatching, Bodywatching, Animalwatching and Babywatching. His study of the meaning of gestures, Bodytalk: A World Guide to Gestures is published by Jonathan Cape.