This book-length essay presents a fretful picture of our personal relationships to the climate as it changes around us. Hildyard proposes the idea that in addition to our flesh-and-blood bodies, we each possess a second body, one which is part of a shared climate-catastrophe-causing mass, dispersed across the globe. Culminating in a flood that upends the writers' entire life, Hildyard writes, “My second body came to find my first body when the river flooded my house.” For any of us who are waiting for the flood to come find us.
Every living thing has two bodies. To be an animal is to be in possession of a physical body, a body which can eat, drink and sleep; it is also to be embedded in a worldwide network of ecosystems. When every human body has an uncanny global presence, how do we live with ourselves? In this timely and elegant essay, Daisy Hildyard captures the second body by exploring how the human is a part of animal life. She meets Richard, a butcher in Yorkshire, and sees pigs turned into boiled ham; and Gina, an environmental criminologist, who tells her about leopards and silver foxes kept as pets in luxury apartments. She speaks to Luis, a biologist, about the origins of life; and talks to Nadezhda about fungi in an effort to understand how we define animal life. Eventually, her second body comes to visit her first body when the river flooded her home last year. The Second Body is a brilliantly lucid account of the dissolving boundaries between all life on earth.
About the Author
Daisy Hildyard holds a PhD in the history of science, and has previously published essays on the language of science, and on seventeenth-century mathematics. Her first novel Hunters in the Snow received the Somerset Maugham Award and a '5 under 35' honorarium at the USA National Book Awards. She lives with her family in North Yorkshire, where she was born.