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A fortuitous re-issue of late Clarence Day's seriocomic ruminations about man's simian ways. The author, remembered mainly for Life with Father, wrote this elegantly turned essay in 1920 when brave new worlds were in the wind, and he not only chirrups with Darwinian speculation, but takes a few Shavian pokes at Western religion and the sanctity of some social behavior. What would have happened, for example, if the earth-rulers had been descended from ants? From snakes, cats and elephants? Ants are good citizens all, but never have the sense to take a vacation. Day's Wellsian views of cat-men, elephant-men are enchanting, but alas, it was the humble monkey, wailing in some far-off, tree, who finally hit upon the self-conscious use of tools -- and here we are. Then follows an airy recall of simian traits, including curiosity, a distractible brain, evolved from a forest of gossip and chatter. Because of simian fears there is ""too urgent need of religion,"" and a god ""who drops any cosmic affair at short notice. . . to notice a fellow when he is going to bed."" But the author's heart still leaps up to behold the remarkable descendants of the (early) simians doing remarkable things. With the author's drawings and an introduction by Dean Acheson, this offers a highly relevant, if light breeze of humanistic comment, on the jungle concerns of Ardrey and Lorenz and the frivolity of Desmond Morris.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1968
ISBN: 1421809168
Publisher: Knopf