Natural History and Narrative Sympathy: The Children's Animal Stories of Edward Augustus Kendall (1775/6? - 1842)
University of Toronto Press
Edward Augustus Kendall (1775/6?–1842), a late eighteenth-century writer of children’s animal stories, deserves recognition for his sustained attempt to offer an empathetic rendition of imagined animal experience in fiction. His early fiction, including the dog story Keeper’s Travels (1798) and several tales of bird life, contributed to the development of more sympathetic attitudes to non-human animals in the late eighteenth century. Two factors influenced the development of Kendall’s innovative treatment of animal characters. First, the natural history of Buffon and his English translators and followers, in particular William Smellie, informed Kendall’s detailed attention to animal behaviour and to questions of animal mind and sentience. Second, the contemporary development of narrative techniques designed, on the basis of the imaginative sympathy theorized by Adam Smith, to encourage readers to identify with protagonists’ feelings, prompted Kendall to extend such methods to the representation of animal characters. He helped shift animal representation away from fable and satire towards naturalism and empathy. His use of third-person narrative proved most fruitful in this regard, and anticipated later developments in the imaginative apprehension of non-human experience.
The definitive published version is available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/ecf.25.4.751
Volume 25, Number 4, Summer 2013 pp. 751-774