Summary and Info
"Ant" is a book in the "Animal series", published by Reaktion Books. Each volume deals with the cultural significance of a certain animal, and the authors are usually literature professors. (The author of this volume, Charlotte Sleigh, is a historian.)
The books I've read so far were very uneven and could have needed better editing.
"Ant" is no exception. It feels like a series of unfinished articles strung together to form a book. While it does contain some interesting pieces of information, I nevertheless felt a bit disappointed after reading it. Also, it contains some very strange claims, for instance that the horror movie "Them!" is anti-Communist, with the monstrous ants being the symbolic Communists. That's hardly likely, since "Them!" implicitly criticizes U.S. nuclear testing and government denial of UFOs. And this in a movie made in 1954! Nor does the author understand the movie "Starship Troopers". And why doesn't she review Bernard Werber's novels?
Another problem with the book is the postmodern perspective. The scientific view of ants is seen as just another "story". Really? When analyzing the conflict between E.O. Wilson and Deborah Gordon, it's obvious that Sleigh sympathizes with the latter, but her postmodernism forces her to say that *both* protagonists are somehow trapped in a socio-cultural matrix of subjectivity, which makes it unclear why we should choose one rather than the other.
I also suspect that Charlotte Sleigh herself feels trapped, since she constantly strays from her subject (ants, remember?) and discusses...bees.
After reading both "Fly", "Bee" and "Ant" , I'm beginning to be a bit tired of this concept, but since I gave the two other books three stars, I might as well give this three stars as well, although it feels mentally like two stars... (I've read some other volumes as well, including the zero star "Parrot". You have been warned.)
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