Adventures in Words: The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
In a story of tables being turned, big-game hunter Sanger Rainsford finds that he is the prey and someone else in the hunter. It’s a taut, sharp thriller, a short story rather than a novel but one that’s deservedly remained in print since it was first published almost a hundred years ago.
But it makes me think: humans are pursuit hunters. We can run longer, farther and further than any other animal, having traded fur for the ability to sweat and thus regulate our temperature as we are running. As hunters of the African savannah, the ice plains of northern Europe or the deserts of Australia, that’s what we did: we pursued the prey relentlessly, running after it as it fled and never giving it time to rest so that, in the end, it simply collapsed. That is what we were. But it is also what we most fear: the relentless, implacable pursuer (think the first Terminator). What we fear most is an image of ourselves. And that is the fear that drives the plot of The Most Dangerous Game: man the hunter, hunted.