Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Inventing the Cave ManFrom Darwin to the Flintstones$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Andrew Horrall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526113849

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526113849.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use (for details see www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 14 November 2018

Darwin, Du Chaillu and Mr Gorilla: the lions of the season

Darwin, Du Chaillu and Mr Gorilla: the lions of the season

(p.30) 2 Darwin, Du Chaillu and Mr Gorilla: the lions of the season
Inventing the Cave Man

Andrew Horrall

Manchester University Press

This chapter explores how Charles Darwin’s 1859 book On the Origin of Species and the explorer Paul Du Chaillu’s almost simultaneous encounters with gorillas in West Africa focussed popular fears about evolution. Gorillas were a frightening suggestion that apes and humans were related, and that ancient hominids might still inhabit the unexplored parts of the Earth. Scientists and theologians publicly and angrily confronted each other, providing satirists with the basis for cartoons, songs, plays, stage sketches, acrobatic routines and literary fantasies about gorillas. These reflected a generalised knowledge about evolution. Cartoons, poems and jokes in humorous magazines adopted the gorilla’s voice, making the animal quasi-human and having it comment directly on the contemporary world. The almost invariably humorous tone in which gorillas were invoked in British popular culture deflected unease about the animal’s relationship to humans. Such ideas were far more threatening in the United States, where debates about the future of slavery were plunging the country into Civil War. Americans had little interest in comic depictions of simian prehistoric humans.

Keywords:   burlesque, Darwin, evolution, Paul Du Chaillu, gorillas, Thomas Henry Huxley, minstrel shows, Oxford debate, Punch magazine, slang, Samuel Wilberforce

Manchester Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.