255 . THE GORILLA HUNTERS . R.M.BALLANTYNE
THE GORILLA HUNTERS
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The Gorilla Hunters: A Tale of the Wilds of Africa (1861) is a boys’ adventure novel by R. M. Ballantyne. A sequel to his hugely successful 1858 novel The Coral Island and set in “darkest Africa”,its main characters are the earlier novel’s three boys: Ralph, Peterkin and Jack.
Central in the novel is the hunt for gorillas, an animal until recently unknown to the Western world, which came to play an important role in contemporary debates on evolution and the relation between white Westerners and Africans.
After their adventures in the South Sea Islands, Jack Martin, Ralph Rover, and Peterkin Gay go their separate ways. Six years later, Ralph (again the narrator), living on his father’s inheritance on England’s west coast and occupying himself as a naturalist, is visited by Peterkin, whose “weather-beaten though ruddy countenance” he does not recognise. Peterkin, who has stayed in touch with Jack, has hunted and killed every animal on Earth except for the gorilla and now comes to Ralph to entice him on a new adventure. After Peterkin writes him a letter, Jack joins the two, and they leave for Africa. …