Roderick L(angmere) Haig-Brown The Times Literary Supplement - Essay

The Times Literary Supplement

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In his preface to Panther … Mr. Haig-Brown anticipates a possible criticism: "this story of a panther is too bloody, there is too much killing and cruelty in it." He answers that a panther is not "cruel": it kills for food or from sexual jealousy, because so to kill is the law of its being. And Mr. Haig-Brown's Ki-Yu is entirely a panther, not at all a four-legged philosopher. A more reasonable criticism is that the life story of an animal, when the author sternly resists the temptation to make the animal think and speak in human terms, is scarcely sufficient to fill a book. And a story written quite objectively can never be so enthralling as one which has in it a strong subjective element.

Perhaps, from the story-teller's point of view, it would have been wiser to establish a more definite human background. But the book undoubtedly has its fascination: it is a genuine piece of nature study based on long and accurate observation of the Vancouver Island panther (or cougar) and of its habits….

Story-telling apart, Mr. Haig-Brown gives his readers much curious and interesting information about panthers' ways.

"Shorter Notices: 'Panther'," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1934; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 1709, November 15, 1934, p. 794.