Comments by Others Essays


Which are nastier? Chimps or people?

The Evolutionary Psychology of PRIMAL


Hover the mouse cursor above a book cover to see its publisher, date of publication, and ISBN;
click to go to an online bookseller of the edition


Stripped of everything, how would you behave in paradise?

English (UK)

English (USA)
Would you put all self-interest aside to help form a moral, caring and supportive society? Would you be prepared to share food, space and even your lover in order to reduce conflict? And even if you would, how would you cope with others in your group who wouldn’t? Those who are more jealous, spiteful, possessive and aggressive than yourself?
French (2nd ed.) French (1st ed.)
These are the dilemmas that confront a group of 15 students and staff from the Orwellian University of Manchester in the novel, PRIMAL. Taken on a field trip to a remote and uninhabited Pacific island by their charismatic Professor, Raúl Lopez-Turner, the students at first see the trip as just a fun way to earn marks towards their degrees. But then things start to go wrong and eventually they find themselves stripped of everything: clothes, medication, shelter, tools, all hope of rescue, and most of all law and accountability.
Czech Slovakian
But thanks to the determination and courage of two of the students, after thirteen months on the island the group is rescued. By then three people are dead, all but one of the women have conceived, and two already have babies. A media circus follows, everybody eager to know what happened on the island. But after feeding the news-media a story of bravery, camaraderie, and conjugal harmony, the group unify in turning their backs on all publicity – except, to quieten the inquisitive, they commission a close friend of Raúl Lopez-Turner to write a book in collaboration with one of them, the enigmatic Ysan.
Hebrew (Israel) Portuguese (Brazil)
Even with Ysan’s cooperation, the author finds it difficult to piece together the group’s story, and after he has unravelled only the first three months of their time on the island, the collaboration ends; Ysan breaks down, and clams up. But convinced that the missing ten months shroud a major drama, the author refuses to stop. Delving ever deeper into remarkable physical evidence that comes his way, he eventually uncovers what he considers to be the true story. But there is only one way he can confirm his beliefs, and that is by risking his life and visiting the island. Everything is then revealed – or is it? Has the author himself suddenly become less interested in the truth than in his allegiances?

Professor Lopez-Turner gave many television interviews during his distinguished academic career. In his most notorious he said: “If you really want to know what humans are made of, just try returning them to the wild. Make them live naked amongst apes. You won’t like what you see, but maybe then you’ll understand. Modern society is just a way of hiding us from our true selves. That’s how fragile it is.”

Is PRIMAL a vindication of his words? After all, stripped of everything, how would you behave in paradise?