William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies Harvard University
We seem to be living in dog days. From cyberspace to pet stores, pop culture to haute couture, our love affair with the dog has reached new heights and shows no sign of abating. Advertisements, films, “human interest” news stories, and an apparently endless slew of bestsellers celebrate our “best friends” and the qualities – intelligence, bravery, and undying loyalty – that inspire our profound attachment to them. But Marjorie Garber, Director of the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Harvard and one of our shrewdest cultural critics, is the fist to take a look at what our fellow feeling for our famously devoted companions says about us.
Roving from real life to “dogs’ lives” (canine biography and autobiography), kennel clubs to leash laws, “puppy love” to dogs as emblems of mourning and loss, Dog Love unleashes a fresh perspective on a favorite topic. What do the stories of such “celebrity hounds” as Lassie and Millie Bush have to say about the demands we place on their human counterparts in political life and pop culture? In an age when information abounds but comprehension seems to be breaking down, how do fantasies about canine communication express our longing to be understood? Why are we able to accept in our pets the very mix of emotional constancy and sexual inconstancy that dogs our human partnerships? How does our preoccupations with canine pedigree reflect social snobbery, nationalism, and other forms of cultural anxiety? What does the growing body of dog law have to say about our desires to regulate human behavior? Why is it that, from Argus onward, the dog has embodied our most elegiac feelings?
In exploring these and other questions, Dog Love shows how, in a society that is less and less “humane,” it is with the dog that we permit ourselves to experience and express our deepest sorrows and joys, As this profound and profoundly delightful book makes plain, it is the dog who makes us human.
“The title Dog Love says it all. Marjorie Garber has dared to explore the awesome relationship between two species. It is a subject of her mystery of extraordinary complexity and utter simplicity. It has all been captured here, and it is a joy to contemplate. All hail Marjorie Garber.”
– Roger A Caras, President, ASPCA
“In this work of dazzling scholarship and pizzazz, the brilliant Marjorie Garber offers a fearlessly kaleidoscopic view of what it means to love a dog. With a quirky mix of wit, objectivity, and compassion, Dog Love presents an endearing and appealing portrait of the simplest and most complex of human attachments. In delving into a topic easily overlooked, dismissed, trivialized, sentimentalized, or ridiculed, Garber shows us that what it means to love a dog is what it means to love.”
– Susan Conant, author of Stud Rites and other in the Holly Winter series of Dog Lover’s Mysteries
“In Dog Love, the canine canon (for which we are singularly responsible – no dog would ever need to write or want to read a companion volume on ‘human love’) and ever other aspect of our fascination with dogs, from the mystery shelf to the movie theater, from the courtroom to the cemetery, have been inspected as thoroughly and judiciously as the entrants in a benched dog show. In what might have been titled ‘The Hidden Life of Dog People,’ Garber reveals a great deal about our dogged, waggish selves that we wouldn’t have discovered without her trustworthy lead. Among the conclusions I draw: every year of dog love is worth seven years of the human stuff.”
– Michael J. Rosen, Editor of Dog people, Speak!, The Company of Dogs, and other books, and founder of The Company of Animals Fund
“I recommend [this book] highly to dog lovers of every breed. Non-dog lovers, too may glean....what all the fuss is about.”
– Robert Rodi, Chicago Tribune Books
“Witty, intriguing, full of charming observations and anecdotes...Garber [provides] the beleaguered dog owner with a wealth of literary and historical references to fling in the faces of those inexplicable dog haters.”
– Laura Lippman, The Baltimore Sun
“Dog Love is a storehouse of ammunition for dog lovers.”
– Robyn Selman, Newsday
“...a full...captivating read.”
– Diane Porter American-Statesman
“Garber...thoughtfully explores realms rarely given consideration by cultural critics.”