Gerald's Family and Other AnimalsIt is doubtful whether the readers have ever noticed the signifiacance of the title, My Family and Other Animals
, written by Gerald Durrell. For him there is absolutely no difference between human beings and animals. His mother, brothers and sister, friends and animals form part of that great Being. His sense of ecology turned him into an extraordinary being. This peculiar quality, blended with his sense of humour and the great ease with which he could write, enabled him to leave behind some marvelous books, the like of which we may not see again. Love was a weakness in his family, and the gift for words and imagination was unique, as shown by his elder brother, one of the greatest writers of twentieth century, Lawrence Durrell.Durrells were born in India, when their father was working there as an engineer. When the father died they moved to London, but the instinct to live in a pastoral set up, gained during their days in Darjeeling, was so much rooted in them that they had to pack their things and move to a place of their childhood likeness. Thus they reached Corfu, one of the most beautiful Greek islands. The islomania which they developed since then could be seen in Larry's island books. It did not take them much time to merge themselves with the local place and people. Gerald moved in his circle of family, friends and the peasants. The person who influenced Gerald very much in Corfu was Theodore Stephenides. His sense of Ecology changed Gerald so much that this young boy developed in him a strong love for animals, which ultimately resulted in the establishment of the great zoo, Jersey Zoo.
He could find in animals a kind of human personality. The events and animals in the book take the form of human actions filled with emotions. His power of observation is sharp. The whole family enjoyed his adventures, sometime these adventures were testing their nerves. He describes one such interesting episode in this book. He collected a scorpion and its babies in an empty match box and left it on the mantle piece, with the intention of putting them later on along with his other collections. But he forgot. After some time, Larry picked it up to light his cigeratte. The scene would lose its originality if reproduced here. Many vauable things were broken in the confusion which followed Larry's search for the match box.The readers find themselves enriched, reading Gerald is not an ordinary experience. We get a sudden awreness of the mysteries of nature, hitherto unfamiliar. A sense of cosmic oneness is felt. The book crushes the human ego, by slowly surrendering and merging into the vast cosmic ego. We are compelled to realize our actual place in this universe. Gerald's greatest contribution, apart from his message that we are part of a vast animal kingdom, seems to be that he could turn ecology as literature.