Study Guide

How the Dead Dream, by Lydia Millet in Animal Studies

How the Dead Dream, by Lydia Millet

Yikes, the title makes it sound like this novel is going to be mor-bid. How the Dead Dream is a contemporary novel that takes on issues of extinction and human longing. Extinction and human longing? Seriously, this sounds like it's going to be pretty depressing.

Luckily, a lot of animals come into the picture and help the human characters of this novel relate and make it through to a better day. Yay, animals.

The novel is interesting to animal studies scholars because it dramatizes and aestheticizes biological concepts like extinction. It gives us a chance to see what culture and the arts have to say about these topics. A lot of these theorists think that what culture has to contribute on these issues is just as important as what the scientists are telling us—and that these realms should be involved in more of a conversation. Millet's book allows us to do this.