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Great Apes (Will Self) Paperback – August 11, 1998
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Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The descriptions and displays of the ape society are nearly perfect. The constant grooming, "arse-kissing" (literally; it's a display of respect), physical recriminations, and especially the wall-to-wall copulating ("mating") are jarring at first, but eventually become routine for the reader. If there's any satire here, it's in Self trying to elicit a horrified response from his more prudish readers. I found the rules and regulations of his ape society fascinating and very well drawn.
I also enjoyed the fact that he took human cultural items (O.J. Simpson, HIV/AIDS, The Planet of the Apes movies) and hypostatized them, as they would appear in the ape world. He also had much fun substituting human for chimp/ape and chimp/ape for human whenever he could ("chimpanity", going "human sh*t", etc.)
My complaints about the novel are thus:
The secondary plot, in which several ape underlings conspire to form an alliance against Dr. Busner, felt tacked on. It never went anywhere, and hardly affected the plot. The one revelation that it provided had literally no dramatic effect at all. Pity, because it could have provided a much-needed narrative shake-up, to move the story along.Read more ›
(updated from my anonymous review)
I don't think, as one reviewer wrote here, that the Zack Busner character is particularly based on Freud. There is evidence early on that he is at least partially based on Oliver Sacks (his list of publications in the world of chimps has titles very much like those of Sacks' books, and his intimate relationships with his patients are similar to Sacks' style).
However, Great Apes is much, much more than an academic exercise. It is a, too often, disturbing allegory of the superficial nature of constructed culture and manufactured reality. It illuminates just how fragile our cosy and insular existences might be - presenting a perspective that is a little too genetically familiar for comfort.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
so again, i bought this book for english class assigned reading. this book has so many words that you can't figure out unless you have a dictionary with you. Read morePublished on April 19, 2013 by pritam
Self's satirical ersatz for The Planet of the Apes is a funny, raucous, and often brilliant book that compels us to face our own stupidity through the lenses of the apes. Read morePublished on December 24, 2012 by Steiner
This book is a clever piece of social satire. The concept of inserting chimp social dynamics into our world is brilliant in itself and the author expands it with a penchant for... Read morePublished on June 12, 2012 by CaRaPr
Self's final book from his drug induced phase, before he went clean. And it's as packed with ideas, language riffs and gags as any of his best fiction. Read morePublished on June 10, 2009 by Sirin
There is so much potential in the background of this story, looking at humanity from the outside, considering how life on earth could have unfolded differently, and of course... Read morePublished on December 8, 2008 by Cup of Tea
One of the funniest, most dazzling linguistic and intellectual displays I've read in years. Self's gleefully coprolalic, vertiginously fluid command of the English language recalls... Read morePublished on August 14, 2007 by E. Walton
Great Apes was a waste of time to read. The author was obviously trying to comment on modern society through a "Planet Of The Apes" type gimmick, but the payoff isn't worth the... Read morePublished on July 28, 2005 by Curran Filer
There really isn't too much to add to what others have said in reviewing the book. This is a world weary cynical satire of human life which is one of the funniest things I have... Read morePublished on July 11, 2004 by Lizzie D
A wicked view of humanity and its hypocrisies. A great novel to make you think about humans, their genetic programming and their place in the world. Read morePublished on March 6, 2004 by A. Dutkiewicz