Magazine article Variety

'Dogs' and the Tradition of Talking Canines

Magazine article Variety

'Dogs' and the Tradition of Talking Canines

Article excerpt

WES ANDERSON SEEMS TO LOVE loquacious animals. So much so that he has made not one, but two, stop-motion movies starring talking canines: first, "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," which featured the voice of George Clooney in the title role, followed by the endlessly eccentric "Isle of Dogs." This delightful outing opens with a card that reads, "All barks have been rendered into English," and sure enough, Anderson assembled many of his favorite actors - Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton - to do the honors.

That decision has since inspired many a think piece, in which critics questioned the politics of Anderson's choices. It's a valid debate, but I'd prefer to tackle another question: Namely, why do we accept talking dogs in the first place?

The earliest example I can find in Western civilization dates back to "Don Quixote" author Miguel de Cervantes, who penned a novella in 1613 titled "Dialogue of the Dogs," which features a satirical conversation between two canines, Scipio and Berganza, in which they marvel for several pages at receiving "this divine gift of speech."

At first, Berganza says, "I hear you speaking, and I know I'm speaking right back, and yet I just can't believe it, it's so unnatural," before proceeding to poke fun at the humans they have known. It all goes to show that if dogs could talk, their banter would be far worse than their bite.

A few decades later, French author Charles Perrault published literature's first "Little Red Riding Hood" story Whereas wolves had not previously been known to talk, this one came to be known for having "a terrible big mouth. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.