Victor Pelevin: Жизнь насекомых (The Life of Insects)

insects

The latest addition to my website is Victor Pelevin‘s Жизнь насекомых (The Life of Insects). This is a thoroughly original book which takes as its premise the idea that insects can also have human form and behave and act like humans. We have mosquitoes who travel the world, looking for the ideal blood to suck, but dress in business suits and wander around as humans, even having a sexual relationship with a fly in human form. We have a moth that smokes (lighting his cigarette with a lighter!) and reads Marcus Aurelius but also discourses on light and darkness with his moth friend. There is a cicada that goes to the office like anyone else. However, as well as behaving and looking like humans, they can fly, burrow and build ant-hills. They suck human blood, eat their own kin, push dung balls (dung-beetles), eat and drink what insects eat and drink and die, e.g. by being squashed by a human foot and by being caught on flypaper. In a lesser hand, this might seem silly, but Pelevin uses it both for post-modern games and jokes but also to make some serious points as it is the insects in insect form that seem far more philosophical than the humans. What is the dung ball of dung-beetles for? What is the moth’s strange relationship with light and dark? It is very well done and a thoroughly original piece of work, which I can highly recommend.

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