‘Magnificence’ by Lydia Millet
In his essay “Why Look At Animals?” John Berger mourns the lost reciprocity of human/animal exchange. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, he writes, animals were not just meat, leather, and horn, but “with man at the centre of his world.” As animate metaphors, they could explain the mysterious. As distant relatives, they were our beginning and end. As separate from us, they were a way for our world to look back. “Magnificence”, the final installment in Lydia Millet’s unnamed trilogy, teems with turn-of-the-century emissaries from this vanishing world.