Encyclopedia of the Marvelous, the Monstrous, and the Grotesque


Site last updated 7 October 2000.


Items wanted: example from texts 1789-2000; images; links to other sites.

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Abjection. See Kristeva. "Through frustration and prohibitions, this [maternal] authority shapes the body into a territory having areas, orifices, points and lines, surfaces and hollows, where the archaic power of mastery and neglect, of the differentiation of proper-clean and improper-dirty, possible and impossible, is impressed and exerted ... maternal authority is the trustee of that mapping of the self's clean and proper body." (Powers of Horror, p. 72).

Abominable Snowman. Also know as Yeti (Tibetan) and Alma (Russian). Hairy biped or 'wildman' which inhabits mountains or woodland. Similar monsters include Bigfoot and Sasquatch.

Absurdity. In the grotesque "The familiar structure of existence is undermined and chaos seems imminent. This aspect is intensified when concrete manifestations of decay appear and a feeling of hopelessness and corruption is developed. The ludicrous aspect, in turn, arises from the farcical quality inherent in such scenes of absurdity and approaching chaos"(Lee Byron Jennings The Ludicrous Demon: Aspects of the Grotesque in German Post-Romantic Prose). See Hogarth's "THE BATHOS, or Manner of Sinking, in Sublime Paintings, Inscribed to the Dealers in Dark Pictures [...] See the manner of disgracing ye most Serious Subjects, in many celebrated Old Pictures; by introducing Low, absurd, obscene & often prohane Circumstances into them."

Acephalous. 'Having no part of the body specially organized as a head' (OED).

Aldrovandi, Ulisse. Natural History. Cynocephali from Ulisse Aldrovandi's Monstrorum Historia (1642); Goose-headed Man from Ulisse Aldrovandi's Monstrorum Historia (1642).

Amazons. Lesbian warriors. [This entry will be developed]

Anamorphosis. Distorted projection or drawing which looks normal from the a particular point, or when a suitable mirror is applied to it.

Androgynous.Combining male and female. See Hermaphrodites.

Animals. Exotic. Camels, giraffes, elephants, apes. [This entry will be developed]

Apes. "In discourse I have heard to fall, somewhat in earnest, from the mouth of a philospher ... That man was a meer artificiall creature, and was at first but a kind of Ape or Baboon, who through his industry (by degrees) in time had improved his Figure and his Reason up to the perfection of man" (John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis 1650, B3r)

Arcimboldo. Giuseppe. Painted faces which on closer attention are an accumulation of parts of other objects. Cooking from Giuseppe Arcimboldo's The Genius of Cooking (1569). Electric Kingdom Postmodern Arcimboldo. Club Flyer, 13 March 1999.

Aristotle. On sex. Aristotle's Generation of Animals, trans. A.L. Peck (Cambridge:Harvard University Press, 1963): "The female is as it were a deformed male" (2.3.175); "The first beginning of this deviation is when the female is formed instead of the male." (4.3.401). On the marvelous. According to Rensselaer Lee, poets and artists found justification for the fantastic and the marvelous in the Poetics and Rhetoric. See 'Ut Pictura Poesis: The Humanistic Theory of Painting,' Art Bulletin 22 (1940): 230. 'Those who employ spectacular means to create a sense of the not of the terrible, but only of the monstrous, are strangers to the purpose of Tragedy' (Aristotle, Poetics, XIV, 2)."

Artificial Wonders. 'artificialia' examples include automota, topiary, elaborate fountains and stage machinery. [This entry will be developed]

Art of Architecture (1742). Grotesque poem based on Horace.

Atomic age. "Our world has led to the grotesque as well as to the atom bomb... But the grotesque is only a way of expressing in a tangible manner, of making us perceive physically the paradoxical, the form of the unformed, the face of the world without face; and just as in our thinking today we seem to be unable to do without the concept of the paradox, so also in art, and in our world which at times seems still to exist only because the atom bomb exists: out of ofear of the bomb" (Friedrick Duerrenmatt).

Automota. Artificial machines that appear to mimic the living or the natural.King of Brobdingnag on Gulliver "when he observed my Shape exactly, and saw me walk erect, before I began to speak, conceived I might be a piece of Clock-work, (which is in that Country arrived to a very great Perfection) contrived by some ingenious Artist" (II.iii). Also as Lusus Naturae.

Bacon, Francis. Called for the collection and study of monsters as errors or deviations of Nature. [This entry will be developed]

Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World. Fascinating history of carnival and the owrld-turned upside down. [This entry will be developed]

Basilisk. Crowned snake. I some versions it had to be born of an egg laid during the days of the dog star Sirius by a seven-year-old cock. Its egg had a membrane rather than a shell and was spherical rather than ovoid. The egg could only be hatched by a toad. In 1587 a basilisk hunt took place in Warsaw.

Bath. (On the city and its people). "The same artist who planned the Circus, has likewise projected a Crescent; when that is finished, we shall probably have a Star; and those who are living thirty years hence, may, perhaps, see all the signs of the Zodiac exhibited in the architetecture of Bath. These, however fantastical, are still designs that denote some ingenuity and knowledge in the architect; but the rage of building has laid hold on such a number of adventurers, that one sees new houses starting up in every out-let and every corner of Bath; contrived without judgment, executed without solidity, and stuck together with so little regard to plan and propriety, that the different lines of the new rows and buildings interfere with, and intersect one another in every different angle of conjunction. They look like the wreck of streets and sqaures disjointed by an earthquake, which hath broken ground into a variety of holes and hillocks; or, as if some Gothic devil had stuffed them altogether in a bag, and left them to stand higgledy piggledy, just as chance directed. What sort of a monster Bath will become in a few years, whith these growing excrescences, may be easily conceived [....] All these absurdities arise from the general tide of luxury, which hath overspread the nation, and swept away all, even the very dregs of people [...] Such is the composition of what is called the fashionable company at Bath; where a very inconsiderable proportion of genteel people are lost in a mob of impudent plebeians, whi have neither understanding nor judgment, nor the least idea of propriety and decorum; and seem to enjoy nothing so much as an opportunity of insulting their betters [...] Thus the number of people, and the number of houses continue to increase; and this will ever be the case, till the streams that swell this irresistable torrent of folly and extravagance, shall either be exhausted, or turned into other channels, by incidents and events which I do not pretend to foresee. This, I own, is a subject on which I cannot write with any degree of patience; for the mob is a monster I never could abide, either in its head, tail, midriff, or members; I detest the whole of it, as a mass of ignorance, presumption, malice, and brutality; and, in tis term of reprobation, I include, without respect of rank, station, or quality, all those of both sexes, who affect its manners, and court its society." (Bramble's letter of April 23rd, in Tobias Smollett's Humphry Clinker).

Bathos. The ridiculous. See Pope's Peri Bathous and Hogarth's print "THE BATHOS, or Manner of Sinking, in Sublime Paintings, Inscribed to the Dealers in Dark Pictures [...] See the manner of disgracing ye most Serious Subjects, in many celebrated Old Pictures; by introducing Low, absurd, obscene & often prophane Circumstances into them."

Beardsley. "extraordinarily knowing assimilation of the grotesque and aestheticism" (Victorian Culture and the Idea of the Grotesque, p. 2 ).

Beast of Le Gevaudan. French wolf-like monster that savaged people of the region in the period 1764-67.

Becoming. Phenomena are often monstrous in tranition. State between order and chaos. [This entry will be developed]

Behemoth. 'Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar; the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. [...] Behold, he drinketh up a river and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.' (Job 40:15-18; 23-24). The Book of Enoch (apocryphal) also includes a description 'And in that day will two monsters be separated, a female named Leviathan to dwell in the abyss over the fountains of waters. But the male is called Behemoth which occupies with his breasts an immeasurable desert named Dendain.'

Berserkers. Norsmen wearing bear-shirts who fought like wounded bears.

Biddenden Maids. Born 1100 in Biddenden, Kent, died 1134. Mary and Elizabeth Chulkhurst were united at the shoulders and hips. One died before the other, who refused to be separated, saying 'As we came together, we will also go together.' Their legacy was to be used to produce commemorative cakes for the poor, showing their image. See Gould and Pyle pp. 174-77.Biddenden Maids "Pygopagous twins".

Bigfoot. Hairy biped or 'wildman' which inhabits mountains or woodland.

Blemish. "dischorde in Musick maketh a comely concourdaunce: so great delight tooke the worthy Poete Alceus to behold a blemish in the joint of a wel shaped body." E.K. in Spenser's The Shepheardes Calendar.

Blake. His works often 'range under the category of of the impossible; are crude, contorted, forced, monstrous.' See Alexander Gilchrist Life of Blake, 2 vols (1863).

Blemmyae, or headless monster from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).

Boiastuau, Pierre. Writer on monsters. His Histoires Prodigiueses was translated in 1569 by Edward Fenton: "Amongst all the thinges whiche maye be viewed under the coape of heaven, there is nothying to be seene, which more stirreth the sprite of man, which ravisheth more his senses, which doth more amaze him ... than the monsters, wonders, and abominations, wherein we see the workes of Nature,. not only turned, misshapen and deformed, but (which is more) they do for the most part discover unto us the secret judgment and scourge of the ire of God."

Bosch, Hieronymous. Fantastic pictures. [This entry will be developed]

Botany. See interest in taxonomy. Problems of classification and hybridity. See Ray and Linnaeus.

Brobdingnagian. See the giant people in Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1728).

Browning. 'Wordsworth, Tennyson and Browning; or, Pure, Ornate, and Grotesque Art in English Poetry.' See Walter Bagehot, Essay, National Review, November 1864.

Buchinger, Mathew. For intrauterine amputations see Gould and Pyle, pp.94-97.

Burlesque. The 'low' literary styles are often grotesque. [This entry will be developed]

Cabinets of Curiosities.Often contained monstrous specimens. See Hans Sloane.

Cabinets of Rarities.Often contained monstrous specimens. See Hans Sloane.

Caliban.'A salvage and deformed slave' in Shakespeare's The Tempest. See for example Act II, Scene 2: Trinculo: What have we here? a man or a fish? dead or alive? a fish: he smells like a fish; a very ancient and fish-like smell; a kind of, not of the newest Poor-John. a strange fish! Were I in England now, as once I was, and had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver: there would this monster make a man: when they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian. legg'd like a man! and his fins like arms! Warm o' my troth! I do now let loose my opinion, hold it no longer: this is no fish, but an islander, that hath lately suffered by a thunderbolt...'

Carnival. World Turned Upside Down. Fantastic and exotic aspects. See Bakhtin. Carnivalesque. [This entry will be developed] See Terry Castle, Masquerade and Civilization.

Carlyle. 'a problem necessary to the appreciation of of the Carlylean grotesque, the oscillation between the monstrous and the ridiculous' ... 'His protean personifications (monster, chimera, satirist, sage) appear throughout this book' (Victorian Culture and the Idea of the Grotesque, p. 3 ).

Carter, Angela. See Nights at the Circus. Russo, Female Grotesque.

Centaur. 'A fabulous creature, with the head, trunk, and arms of a man, joined to the body and legs of a horse' (OED).

Cephaloid. Shaped like a head.

Chameleon.Reptile that changes colour and lives (fabulously) on air. See Hamlet III.ii.98.

Chaos.Source of grotesque forms, before they achieve structure. "The grotesque will always appear and take hold of those ages which are under the strain of disaster, feeling the sinister and chaotic aspects of life, but advanced enough to appease the mind by laughter" (Martin Foss, Symbol and Metaphor in Human Experience). See also Milton, Paradise Lost (II.907-914):

Chaos umpire sits,

And by decision more embroils the fray

By which he reigns: next him high arbiter

Chance governs all. Into this wild abyss,

The womb of nature and perhaps her grave,

Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,

But all these in their pregnant causes mixed

Confusedly, and, which thus must ever fight [...]

Cicero. "If a pregnant woman greatly desires a chickpea, she will deliver a child bearing the image of a chickpea. That is how Ciciero's family got its name" (De naturalium effcetum admiradorum causis [Basel, 1556].

Circe. Turned men into swine. See Homer, The Odyssey.

Classification of Monsters. For early examples see Pare. Gould and Pyle propose the following for those that have lived after birth: (1) union of several fetuses; (2) union of two distinct fetuses by a connecting band; (3) union of two distinct fetuses by an osseous junction of the cranial bones; (4) union of two distinct fetuses in which one or more parts are eliminated by the junction; (5) fusion of two fetuses by a bony union of the ischii; (6) fusion of two fetuses below the umbilicus into a common lower extremity; (7) bicephalic monsters; (8) parastic monsters; (9) monsters with a single body and double lower extremities; (10) diphallic terata; (11) fetus in fetu, and dermoid cysts; (12) hermaphrodites.

Colossal statue of Helios/Apollo at Rhodes. Stood astride the harbour. 'Few men can clasp the thumb in their arms' See Pliny, Natural History, book 34, chap. 18.

Combination. "the grotesque object always displays a combination of fearsome and ludicrous qualities [...] it simultaneously arouses reactions of fear and amusement in the observer" (Lee Byron Jennings The Ludicrous Demon: Aspects of the Grotesque in German Post-Romantic Prose).

Commedia dell'arte. Defended by Justis Moeser in 1761 (tr 1766) in Harlequin: or a Defence of Grotesque Comic Performances.

Conjoined twins. Eng and Chang born in Siam in May 1811. Discovered by Robert Hunter in 1824; described scientifically by Prof. J.C. Warren at Harvard University in 1829. Reach 44yrs they both married two English sisters who were 26 and 28yrs. Travelled in Europe again in 1869. Died January 17, 1874. See the Hungarian sisters, the Biddenden Maids. Also Parasitic ectopy; Siamese twins from Johann Schenk's Monstrorum historia memorabilis (1609).

Craniopagi. Monsters joined by some of the cranial bones. Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire cites the example of two girls born in 1495 joined at the forehead forcing them to stand face to face.

Crowds. See Mob.

Crews, Harry. "Relying heaving on the grotesqueness of the freak, Crews creates a great number and variety of freaks in his fiction, from the dwarf Foot in The Gospel Singer (1968) to Jester, the 90-pound midget jockey in Naked in The Garden Hills (1969), from the five foot, 600-pound Mayhugh Aaron of Garden Hills to the sexually perverted Oyster Boy in The Knockout Artist (1988), from Marvin Molar, the crippled deaf-mute of The Gypsy's Curse (1974) to the hammer-mutilated brother in Scar Lover (1992)." from Jack Slay Jr 'Delineations in Freakery' in Literature and the Grotesque (1995) ed. Michael J. Meyer, pp.100-101.

Curiosity. 'This is what prolongs the troubles of those afflicted with blind curiosity, i.e., those who seek out rarities simply in order to wonder at them and not in order to know them, for gradually they become so full of wonder that things of no importance are no less apt to arrest their attention than those whose investigation is more useful' see The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 1, pp. 354-56.

Custom. 'We call contrary to nature what happens contrary to custom; nothing is anything but according to nature, whatever it may be.' Montaigne, "Of a Monstrous Child" (II, 30, p. 539).

Cyclops. Had one enormous eye. See Homer, The Odyssey.

Cynocephalus. One of a fabled race of men with dog's heads. Cynocephali from Ulisse Aldrovandi's Monstrorum Historia (1642).


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Dancing. See Catherine Mazzina, described in John Bulwer's (Anthropometamorphosis 1650): "of a comely forme, and 27 inches and a Palme over in heighth, but wanting Hips and Legs, and consequently Feet, her Armes were perfectly formed, being longer than her breast and trunke, the lower part of her body did not appear bifid, emulating the bottom of a Harpe; She spake to purpose, sung, plaid on a Lute, danced with her hands Spanish, Mauritanian, Italian and French dances, in like manner to the sound of Musique she so composed the Gestures of her imperfect body, that they who had seen her afar off, would doubtelessly have said, she had danced with her Feet. And so to the endowments of the mind, there was nothing wanting to her which is granted by Nature to other men. Moreover she was endowed with both Sexes, yet she drew nearer to a woman, and was more vigorous in that Sex, and therefore was rather called a woman than a man." (453).

Death. See Milton's Paradise Lost:

The other shape,

If shape it might be called that shape had none

Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,

Or substance might be called that shadow seemed,

For each seemed either; black it stood as night,

Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as hell,

And shook a dreadful dart; what seemed his head

The likeness of a kingly crown had on.

Satan was now at hand, and from his seat

The monster moving onward came as fast

With horrid strides, hell trembled as he strode

The undaunted fiend what this might be admired,

Admired, not feared; God and his Sopn except,

Created thing nought valued he nor shunned;

And with disdainful look thus first began.

Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,

That darest, though grim and and terrible, advance

Thy miscreated front athwart my way

To yonder gates . II.666-684

Decay. "The familiar structure of existence is undermined and chaos seems imminent. This aspect is intensified when concrete manifestations of decay appear and a feeling of hopelessness and corruption is developed. The ludicrous aspect, in turn, arises from the farcical quality inherent in such scenes of absurdity and approaching chaos"(Lee Byron Jennings The Ludicrous Demon: Aspects of the Grotesque in German Post-Romantic Prose).

Della Porta, Giovanni Battista. His Magia naturalis included topics such as 'wonderful force of the imagination, and how to produce party coloured births'; 'plants changed, one degenerating into the form of another'; 'eggs hatched without a hen'.

Demonic. Grotesque as "the demonic made trivial". See Lee Byron Jennings The Ludicrous Demon: Aspects of the Grotesque in German Post-Romantic Prose.

Deviation. See Error, Sport of Nature etc. On sex see Aristotle's Generation of Animals, trans. A.L. Peck (Cambridge:Harvard University Press, 1963): "The female is as it were a deformed male" (2.3.175); "The first beginning of this deviation is when the female is formed instead of the male." (4.3.401).

Dickens, Charles. "realist transmutation of caricature as monstrosity" (Victorian Culture and the Idea of the Grotesque, p. 2 ). According to G.H. Lewes, he loses himself in masks, caricatures and distortions (Fortnightly Review (1872) 141-54).

Diseases. "Finally, it should be observed that those whose illness is communicable, such as the scrofulous, the scorbutic, the herpetic, the syphilitic, and so on, will not be able to marry, or will be permitted to marry only women past fifty, who might be willing to expose themselves to the disease. This will apply also to those attacked by epilepsy, consumption, and so on." From Nicolas-Edme Restif de la Bretonne's L'andrographe (1781), Article 28.See also marriage.

Dore, Gustav. "conflation of grotesque illustration and London topography" (Victorian Culture and the Idea of the Grotesque, p. 2 ).

Dragon. 'They hide themselves in trees, covering their head and letting the other part hang downe like a rope. In those trees they watch until the Elephant comes to eate and croppe of the branches; then suddenly, before he be aware, they leape into his face and digge out his eyes. Then doe they claspe themselves about his neck, and with their tayles or hinder parts, beate and vexe the Elephant untill they have made him breathlesse, for they strangle him with theyr fore parts as they beate him with the hinder' (Topsell's History of Serpents, 1608). Other versions of dragons are snakes or worms, e.g. Anglo-Saxon Wyrm. For Biblical references see Revelations 12:9. See also Ulisse Aldrovandi's Historie of Serpents and Dragons (1640).

Dryden, John. "There is yet a lower sort of poetry and painting, which is out of nature; for a farce is that in poetry, which grotesque is in a picture. The persons and action of a farce are all unnatural, and the manners false, that is, inconsisting with the characters of mankind. Grotesque painting is the just resemblance of this; and Horace begins his Art of Poetry by describing such a figure, with a man's head, a horse's neck, the wings of a bird, and a fish's tail; parts of different species jumbled together, according to the mad imagination of the dauber; and the end of all this, as he tells you afterward, the cause laughter: a very monster in a Bartholomew Fair, for the mob to gape at for their two-pence. Laughter is indeed the propriety of a man, but just enough to distinguish him from his elder brother with four legs" Dryden 'A Parallel of Poetry and Painting' Prefixed to Du Fresnoy De Arte Graphica).

Dunn, Katherine. Author of Geek Love (1988). "Like Crews, Dunn portrays freaks who have found a peace in in their freakishness; they delight in their malformed limbs, their twisted bodies." See Jack Slay Jr 'Delineations in Freakery' in Literature and the Grotesque (1995) ed. Michael J. Meyer, p. 107.

Durer. Monstrous pig of Landseer by Albrecht Durer (1496).

Ears. Long-eared Phanesians from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).

Elephant-headed man from Fortunio Liceti's De Monstris (1665).

Empedocles. See Chaos.

Error. Latin 'errare' to wander. Links with 'erratic' and 'errantry'. For monstrous errantry see Spenser's Faerie Queene. For Errors of Nature, see Lusus Naturae.

Exaggeration, grotesque. Kurt Wittig on Robert Henryson and Scottish literature examined "the juxtaposition of understatement and overstatement"

Excess. Monstrosity sometimes caused by excess of seed, fertility, or imagination. See also Lack; Pare.

Execution, grotesque, in Swift's Gulliver's Travels: "The Malefactor was fixed in a Chair upon a Scaffold erected for the Purpose; and his Head cut off at one Blow with a Sword of about forty Foot long. The Veins and Arteries spouted up such a prodigious Quantity of Blood, and so high in the Air, that the great Jet d'Eau at Versailles was not equal for the Time it lasted; and the Head when it fell on the Scaffold Floor, gave such a Bounce, as made me start, although I were at least an English Mile distant" (II.v.)

Exotica. [This entry will be developed]

Eyes. One-eyed monster from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493). Cyclops had one enormous eye. See Homer, The Odyssey.

Fairholt. See Eccentric and Remarkable Characters (1849) and Gog and Magog, the Giants of Whitehall (1859).

Fairy Tale. [This entry will be developed]

Farce. "There is yet a lower sort of poetry and painting, which is out of nature; for a farce is that in poetry, which grotesque is in a picture. The persons and action of a farce are all unnatural, and the manners false, that is, inconsisting with the characters of mankind. Grotesque painting is the just resemblance of this; and Horace begins his Art of Poetry by describing such a figure, with a man's head, a horse's neck, the wings of a bird, and a fish's tail; parts of different species jumbled together, according to the mad imagination of the dauber; and the end of all this, as he tells you afterward, the cause laughter: a very monster in a Bartholomew Fair, for the mob to gape at for their two-pence. Laughter is indeed the propriety of a man, but just enough to distinguish him from his elder brother with four legs" Dryden 'A Parallel of Poetry and Painting' Prefixed to Du Fresnoy De Arte Graphica). "The familiar structure of existence is undermined and chaos seems imminent. This aspect is intensified when concrete manifestations of decay appear and a feeling of hopelessness and corruption is developed. The ludicrous aspect, in turn, arises from the farcical quality inherent in such scenes of absurdity and approaching chaos"(Lee Byron Jennings The Ludicrous Demon: Aspects of the Grotesque in German Post-Romantic Prose).

Fear. "the grotesque object always displays a combination of fearsome and ludicrous qualities [...] it simultaneously arouses reactions of fear and amusement in the observer" (Lee Byron Jennings The Ludicrous Demon: Aspects of the Grotesque in German Post-Romantic Prose).


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Female Grotesque.See maternal impressions; Angela Carter; Scriblerian Satire (Swift and misogyny). See Aristotle's Generation of Animals, trans. A.L. Peck (Cambridge:Harvard University Press, 1963): "The female is as it were a deformed male" (2.3.175); "The first beginning of this deviation is when the female is formed instead of the male." (4.3.401).

Festivals. See Saturnalia, Lord of Misrule, Carnival.

Freaks. "The true freak, however, stirs both supernatural terror and natural sympathy, since unlike the fabulous monsters, he is one of us, the human child of human parents, howver altered by forces we do not quite understand into something mythic and mysterious, as no mere cripple ever is. Passing either on the street, we may be simultaneously tempted to avert our eyes and to stare; but in the latter case we feel no threat to those desperately maintained boundaries on which any definition of sanity ultimately depends. On the true Freak challenges the conventinal boundaries between male and female, sexed and sexless, animal and human, large and small, self and other, and consequently between reality and illusion, experience and fantasy, fact and myth." Leslie Fiedler, Freaks: Myths and Images of the Secret Self (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), p.24.

Gargantua. See Rabelais.

Gesner, Konrad. His Historia Animalium included many marvelous creatures. [This entry will be developed]

Giants. Described in the Bible, Numbers 13:33 'And there we saw giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight'; Deuteronomy 3:11 'For only Og King of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon?'; Genesis 6:4 'There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came into the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, and the same became might men which were of old, men of renown.'

Goat-people (satyrs) from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).

Gonzalez, Pedro of the Canry Islands. Body completely covered with hair.

Goose-headed Man from Ulisse Aldrovandi's Monstrorum Historia (1642).

Gould and Pyle. Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine. 1896. Encyclopedic collection of rare and unusual cases.

Goya. See 'The Sleep of Reason Breeds Monsters'.

Griffin. Griffon. Gryphon. 'A fabulous animal having the head and wings of an eagle and the body and hind quarters of a lion. (Believed by the Greeks to inhabit Scythia and to guard its gold' (OED). In some reports griffins consumed horses. See noble grotesque.

Hairy Man from John Bulwer's Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transformed: or the Artificial Changling (1653)

Harlequin.Commedia dell'arte. Defended by Justus Moeser in 1761 (tr 1766) in Harlequin: or a Defence of Grotesque Comic Performances.

Harpy. ' fabulous monster, rapacious and filthy, having a woman's face and body and a bird's wings and claws, and supposed to act as a minister of divine vengeance' (OED) See noble grotesque.

Hermaphrodite. Having both male and female sexual parts.

Histoires Prodigieuses. See Boiastuau

History of the grotesque. 'new perceptions and conceptions of the grotesque occurred with every new generation of artists and critics; each created its own grotesque art, understood the past in its own way, and invested the word with its own meanings' See Barasch (1971) 152.

Hofstadter, Albert. The tragicomic is "the effective copresence of opposites"; the tension between pathos and comicality in an equilibrium that "points to no possible resolution."

Hogarth, William. See 'Royalty, Episcopacy, Law' and "THE BATHOS, or Manner of Sinking, in Sublime Paintings, Inscribed to the Dealers in Dark Pictures [...] See the manner of disgracing ye most Serious Subjects, in many celebrated Old Pictures; by introducing Low, absurd, obscene & often prohane Circumstances into them."

Homer. Marvelous esp. in The Odyssey. [This entry will be developed]

Hood, Thomas. "use of the grotesque 'comic vernacular' in the popular literature of the 1830s" (Victorian Culture and the Idea of the Grotesque, p. 2 ).

Horace. See Art of Poetry.

Human Monsters from Gregor Reisch's Margarita Philosophia (1517).

Humorous. "Full of grotesque or odd images" in Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (1773).

Hungarian sisters, Helen and Judith, were born in 1701 at Szony in Hungary. Placed in a convent at 9 years. Verses inscribed on a bronze statuette of them:

Two sisters wonderful to behold, who have thus grown as one,

That naught their bodies can divide, no power beaneath the sun.

The town of Szoenii gave them birth, hard by far-famed Komorn,

Which noble fort may all the arts of Turkish sultans scorn.

Lucina, woman's gentle friend, did Helen first receive;

And Judith, when three hours had passed, her mother's womb did leave.

One urine passage serves for both; - one anus, so they tell;

The other parts their numbers keep, and serve their owners well.

Their parents poor did send them forth, to world to travel through,

That this great wonder of the age should not be hid from view.

The inner parts concealed do lie hid from our eyes, alas!

But all the body here you view erect in solid brass.

(See Fisher, Transactions of the Medical Society of the State of New York, 1866).

Hydra. 'I have also heard that in Venice in the Duke's treasury, among the rare monuments of that city, there is preserved a serpent with seven heads, which if it be true, it is more probable that there is a hydra, and that the poets were not altogether deceived that say Hercules killed such a one' (Topsell, 1607). Killing the nine-headed monster as the second of Hercules' twelve labours.

Imagination and pregnant women. See James Blondel's The Power of the Mother's Imagination over the Foetus (London 1729): "the mere longing for Muscles is sufficient to transubstantiate the true and original Head of the Child into a Shell-Fish". See also Pietro Pomponazzi, "If a pregnant woman greatly desires a chickpea, she will deliver a child bearing the image of a chickpea. That is how Ciciero's family got its name" (De naturalium effcetum admiradorum causis [Basel, 1556].

Ischiopagi. See Pare's example of twins joined at the pelves called Louis and Louise, Paris, 20 July, 1570. Also Licetus's case of Mrs. John Waterman who gave birth to a double female monster in Fishertown, Salisbury, England, 26 October, 1664. Called by him 'Monstrum Anglicum'.

Janiceps. See Gould and Pyle, p. 190 Janus had two faces.

Jealousy. 'O! beware, my lord, of jealousy; /It is the green-ey'd monster which doth mock/The meat it feeds on' See Shakespeare's Othello.

Johnson, Samuel, defines 'humorous' as "Full of grotesque or odd images" in his Dictionary (1773).

Jokes. Grotesque example of a boy born with a golden screw where his navel should have been. Searching for a cure to this anomaly he finds a doctor whose magic potion sends him to sleep. Upon waking the golden screw has disappeared. Delighted, he jumps out of bed and his ass falls of. See Pynchon's V, p. 30.

Kant, Immanuel. "In human nature, praiseworth qualities never are found without concurrent variations that must run through endless shadings to the utmost imperfection. The quality of the terrifying sublime, if it is quite unnatural, is adventurous. Unnatural things, so far as the sublime is supposed in them, although little or none at all may actually be found, are grotesque. Whoever loves and believes the fantastic is a visionary; the inclination toward whims makes the crank. On the other side, if the noble is completely lacking the feeling of the beautiful degenerates, and one calls it trifling. A male person of this quality, if he is young, is named a fop; if he is of middle age he is a dandy. Since the sublime is the most necessary to the elderly, an old dandy is the most contemptible creature in nature, just as a young crank is the most offensive and intolerable." (Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, trans Goldthwait, 1960, p. 55) "Monasteries and such tombs, to confine the living saints are grotesque. Subduing one's passions through principles is sublime. Castigation, vows, and other such monks' virtues are grotesque. Holy bones, holy wood, and all similar rubbish, the holy stool of the High Lama of Tibet not excluded, are grotesque. Of the works of wit and fine feeling, the epic poems of Vergil and Klopstock fall into the noble, of Homer and Milton into the adventurous. The Metamorphoses of Ovid are grotesque; the fairy tales of French foolishness are the most miserbale grotesqueries ever hatched. Anacreontic poems are generally very close to the trifling" (Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, trans Goldthwait, 1960, pp. 56-57).

Kircher, Athanasius. See also museums, Wunder- and Kunstkammer.

Koch, Albert. Sold an enormous skeleton to Frederick William IV of Prussia, claiming it was the remains of the biblical monster 'behemoth'. He called his 114 foot long specimen Hydrargos sillimanii.

Kraken. Described in Bishop Erik Ludvigen Pontoppidan's Natural History of Norway (1752) as the largest sea monster in the world. Described by Olaus Magnus (1555) as a monstrous fish: 'Their forms are horrible, their Heads are square, all set with prickles, and they have sharp a long Horns round about, like a tree rooted up by the roots: they are ten or twelve cubits long, very black and with huge eyes...' Probably a giant squid or octopus of the class Cephaloda.

Kristeva, Julia. "There looms, within abjection, one of those violent, dark revolts of being, direced against a threat that seems to emanate from an exorbitant outside or inside, ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable. It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated. It beseeches, worries, fascinates desire, which nonetheless, does not let itself be seduced. Apprehensive, desire turns aside; sickened, it rejects ... But simultaneously, just the same, that impetus, that spasm, that leap is drawn toward an elsewhere as tempting as it is condemned. Unflagging, like an inescapable boomerang, a vortex of summons and repulsion places the one haunted by it literally beside himself." (The Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, 1982) p. 1. See Abjection.

Kunstkammer. [This entry will be developed]

Lack. Subtraction of body parts. Insufficient seed.

Lamia. Lamia See Topsell's The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents (1607, 1608, 1658).

Laughter. Defined by Henri Bergson as our sense of 'somethinh mechanical encrusted in the living' (84). See also Jokes.

Leonardo da Vinci. According to Vasari he created 'a fearsome and horrible monster' from 'a number of green and other kinds of lizards, crickets, serpents, butterflies, locusts, bats and various strange creatures of this nature' He then depicted the creature 'emerging fom the dark cleft of a rock, belching forth venom from its open throat, fire from its eyes and smoke from its nostrils in so macabre a fashion that the effect was altogether monstrous and horrible. Leonardo took so long over the work that the stench of the dead animals in his room became unbearable...' Lives of the Artists (Penguin Books, 1965), p. 259.

Leviathan. Sea monster from Hebrew poetry (See Job 41). 'Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn [...] Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears [...] Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about. [...] Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. [...] he maketh the deep to boil like a pot; he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.' Leviathan was used as a metaphor for state or 'commonwealth' as an organism - see Hobbes's Leviathan (1651). The Book of Enoch (apocryphal) also includes a description 'And in that day will two monsters be separated, a female named Leviathan to dwell in the abyss over the fountains of waters. But the male is called Behemoth which occupies with his breasts an immeasurable desert named Dendain.' See also Sea monsters.

Lilliputian. Miniature people in Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1728).

Lips. Big-lipped monster from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).

Locke, John. [This entry will be developed]

Lucian of Samosta. See Menippean satire such as A True Story. [This entry will be developed]

Ludicrous. "The familiar structure of existence is undermined and chaos seems imminent. This aspect is intensified when concrete manifestations of decay appear and a feeling of hopelessness and corruption is developed. The ludicrous aspect, in turn, arises from the farcical quality inherent in such scenes of absurdity and approaching chaos"(Lee Byron Jennings The Ludicrous Demon: Aspects of the Grotesque in German Post-Romantic Prose).

Lusus naturae. A Sport (or play) of nature. [This entry will be developed]


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Mandrake. 'is poisonous, having emetic and narcotic properties. Its forked root was thought to resemble the human form, and was fabled to shriek when plucked up from the ground' (OED). Mandrake from Herbarius (1485).

Mandeville, Sir John. Many reports of marvelous creatures in his Travels.

Margins. Often decorated with witty grotesque forms in illumated manuscripts.

Marriage. "Deformed men, as a compensation for their handicap, will be favored for all positions where celibacy is a suitable qualification [...] Every boy who has some bodily defect will be excluded from the legitimate classes, and different classes of cripples will be constituted, in accordance with their degree of infirmity. (1) Those disabled will have a choice of marriage or the ecclesiastical state, secular or regular, as with the following class. (2) The lame without any other deformity will form a second class who can be given young girls as wives if they are otherwise vigorous and healthy. (3) The bandy-legged will qualify only for widows. (4) Congenital hunchbacks and deformed men will only obtain women past forty. (5) The deaf and one-eyed will have as wives only rejected girls who have not been chosen at the marriage festivals. (6) The blind will have the ugliest girls who have not been able to find husbands. Selection among the malformed will have as many divisions as among the robust. Priority will be given to those uniting the least deformity with the greatest merit; the rest will be ranked in accordance with the merit which offsets their deformities, until that subject is reached who has the least merit and the greatest defomity. Finally, it should be observed that those whose illness is communicable, such as the scrofulous, the scorbutic, the herpetic, the syphilitic, and so on, will not be able to marry, or will be permitted to marry only women past fifty, who might be willing to expose themselves to the disease. This will apply also to those attacked by epilepsy, consumption, and so on." From Nicolas-Edme Restif de la Bretonne's L'andrographe (1781), Articles 25 and 28.

Marvelous. Fabcesco Patrizi listed twelve source in his La deca ammirabile (1587): ignorance, fable, novelty, paradox, augmentation, change from what is usual, the extranatural, the divine, great utility, the very exact, the unexpected, the sudden. See Weinbergy, History of Literary Criticism, vol. 2, pp. 772-74.

Marvels. [This entry will be developed]

Masquerade. See Terry Castle, Masquerade and Civilization.

Maternal Impressions. Effects of Imagination (1) Jonston's example of the Ethiopian who produced a white child. Thaumatographia naturalis. 1665; (2) Plot's example of the mouse-like child whose mother had been frightened by one. The Natural History of Staffordshire. 1686; (3) Lancet's example of a child with a dog face whose mother had been bitten. 1863 and (4) a child born with 'burns' whose mother had been frightened by fireworks (5) Graham's example of the rabbit-like children. British Medical Journal. i. 51. 1868. (6) turtle-man, q.v. (7)

Maypole. "Against May, Whitsunday, or other time, all the young men and maids, old men and wives, run gadding overnight to the woods, groves, hills, and mountains, where they spend all the night in pleasant pastimes; and in the morning they return, bring with them birhc and branches of trees, to deck their assemblies withal. And no marvel; for there is a great lord present amongst them, as superintendant and lord over their pastimes and sports, namely Satan, Prince of Hell. But the chiefest jewel they bring from thence is their Maypole, which they brig hom with great veneration ... Then fall they to dance about it, like as the heathen people did at the dedication of the Idols, whereof this is a perfect pattern, or rather the thing itself. I have heard it credibly reported (and that viva voce) by men of great gravity and reputation that of forty, threescore, or a hundred maids going to the wood overnight, there have scarcely the third part of them returned home again undefiled." (Philip Stubbes, The Anatomy of Abuses).

Medieval. One-eyed monster from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).Blemmyae, or headless monster from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).Long-eared Phanesians from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).Big-lipped monster from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493). Sciapodes from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493). Goat-people (satyrs) from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).

Medusa. In Greek mythology one of the three Gorgons, whose head, with snakes for hair, turned him who looked upon it into stone' (OED).

Menippean Satire. see Lucian of Samosta's True History.

Metamorphosis. See Ovid. [This entry will be developed]

Microscopic. 'little objects are to be compared to the greater and more beautiful works of nature, a flea, a mite, a gnat, to an Horse, an elephant, or a Lyon.' Hooke, Micrographia (1665). See also Nehemiah Grew's wonder at 'Nature's handicraft, which far surpasses the most elaborate Woof or Needle-wrok in the World' The Anatomy of Plants (1682).

Milton, John. Paradise Lost.Chaos, Sin and Death. [This entry will be developed]

Miniature. See also microscopic; Lilliputian. Il Raggio carved a relief on a shell that showed Dante's Inferno complete in miniature. See Vasari's Life of Filippino Lippi. Miniature Count Josef Boruwlaski with his wife Islina and their baby.

Miracles. From Latin 'miraculum', 'an object of wonder.' They were a source of the aesthetics of the marvelous; links with prodigies and portents.

Misogyny. Many fine examples of the grotesque in Swift ('Criticism') and Pope (Dulness)...

Mob. 'Seves and fear/The fury of the many-headed monster,/The giddy multitude' See The Unnatural Combat (IIIii) by Philip Massinger (1583-1640). See also Pope: 'There still remains, to mortify a wit,/The many-headed monster of the pit.'

Mordake, Edward. Man with two faces.See Gould and Pyle, pp 188-9. No source given.

Monsters. See Classificiation.

Monstrous Races. Usually depicted on the edges/margins of mediaeval maps. Human Monsters from Gregor Reisch's Margarita Philosophia (1517).

Montaigne. Custom: 'We call contrary to nature what happens contrary to custom; nothing is anything but according to nature, whatever it may be.' Montaigne, "Of a Monstrous Child" (ed Donald M. Frame, p. 539). Identity or inner self: "I have more evident monstrosity and miracle in the world than myself. We become habituated to anything strange by use and time; but the more I frequent myself and know myself, the more ny deformity astonishes me, and the less I understand myself." (ed Donald M. Frame, p.787).On his own writings: "And what are these things of mine, in truth, but grotesques aqnd monstrous bodies, pieced together of divers members, without definite shape, having no order, sequence, or proportion other than accidental.' (ed Donald M. Frame, p. 135). "What we call monsters are not so to God, who sees in the immensity of his work the infinity of forms that he has comprised in it; and it is for us to believe that this figure that astonishes us is related and linked to some other figure of the same kind unknown to man." (p.539)

Nationality and Nature. See John Bulwer's "Enditement framed against most of the Nations under the Sunl whereby they are arraigned at the Tribunal of Nature, as guilty of High-treason, in Abasing, Counterfeiting, Defacing and Clipping her coin instampt with her Image and Superscription on the Body of Man" (Anthropometamorphosis 1650). See also monstrous races.

Natural History. By Pliny. Many examples of the monstrous, esp. Book 7.

Natural Wonders. Collected by Nathaniel Wanley (late 17thC).

Nature. Sometimes sportive, playful or ludic in the making of a novel form. e.g lusus naturae.Nature and nationality, see John Bulwer's "Enditement framed against most of the Nations under the Sun whereby they are arraigned at the Tribunal of Nature, as guilty of High-treason, in Abasing, Counterfeiting, Defacing and Clipping her coin instampt with her Image and Superscription on the Body of Man" (Anthropometamorphosis 1650) He defines the face in terms of its proper longitude and latitude. Sometimes art strives against nature. The New World is the most artificial. Where man "findes Hils, he sets himself to make Plains; where Plains, he raseth Hils; in pleasant places he seekes horrid ones, and brings pleasantnesse into places of horrour and shameful obscurity"; "When [Man] thinks he triumphs over his subdued and depraved Body, his own corrupt Nature triumphs ober him." (241)

Nietzsche, Friedrich. "We misunderstand the beast of prey and the man of prey (for example Cesare Borgia) throughly, we misunderstand 'nature,' as long as we still look for something 'pathological' at the bottom of these healthiest of all tropical monsters and growths, or even for some 'hell' that is supposed to be innate in them; yet this is what almost all moralists have done." The Natural History of Morals, 197.

Nose. The nose of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was lost in a dul with a fellow student. The replacement nose was made of gold.

Novelty. Excites curiosity; aspect of the marvelous.

Number. Monsters often produced by too few or too many body parts. See also Excess; Lack; Pare.

Oannes. Half fish, half man from 3rd/4th century Babylonian story.

Obscenity. Hogarth mentions in "THE BATHOS, or Manner of Sinking, in Sublime Paintings, Inscribed to the Dealers in Dark Pictures [...] See the manner of disgracing ye most Serious Subjects, in many celebrated Old Pictures; by introducing Low, absurd, obscene & often prohane Circumstances into them."; see Rabelais; Bakhtin.

Ogopogo. 'I'm looking for the Ogopogo. The funny little Ogopogo/His mother was an earwig, his father was a snail./I'm going to put a little bit of salt on his tail./I want to find the Ogopogo while he's playing on his old banjo.'

Orang Pendek. Short biped ('little man') of Sumatra

Ovid. Metamorphoses. Monstrous transformations; becoming.

Pantomime. [This entry will be developed]

Paradox, modern. "Our world has led to the grotesque as well as to the atom bomb... But the grotesque is only a way of expressing in a tangible manner, of making us perceive physically the paradoxical, the form of the unformed, the face of the world without face; and just as in our thinking today we seem to be unable to do without the concept of the paradox, so also in art, and in our world which at times seems still to exist only because the atom bomb exists: out of ofear of the bomb" (Friedrick Duerrenmatt).

Parasitic ectopy; Siamese twins from Johann Schenk's Monstrorum historia memorabilis (1609).

Pare, Ambroise. Des Monstres et Prodiges. Triton and Siren from the Latin edition of Ambroise Pare's Des Monstres et Prodiges (1582). [This entry will be developed]

Paternity. "what made monstrosity monstrous was that it served as a public reminder that, short of relying on physical resemblamce, paternity could nver be proven" Marie-Helene Huet, Monstrous Imagination (1993), pp. 33-4.

Pegasus. The winged horse fabled to have sprung from the head of Medusa.

Phanesians. Long-eared Phanesians from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).

Pig. Monstrous pig of Landseer by Albrecht Durer (1496).

Plenitude. Notion that there are no gaps in the system of nature. Hence middle forms such as zoophytes, hybrids, etc.

Plesiosaurus. Class of enormous dinosuar marine reptiles described by Baron Cuvier. They 'astonish the naturalist by their combinations of structures which without the slightest doubt would seem incredible to anyone who had not been able to observe them himself ... The Plesiosaurus is perhaps the strangest of all the inhabitants of the ancient world and the one which seems most to deserve the the name monster.'

Pliny the Elder. Natural History has many accounts of the monstrous and prodigious. See Book 7.

Pope-ass and other monsters from Fortunio Liceti's De Monstrorum causis natura (1665).

Portents. Warnings or secret signs manifested in prodigies.

Postmodern 'plasticity'. "Gradually and surely, a technology that was first aimed at the replacement of malfunctioning parts has generated an industry and an ideology fueled by fantasies of rearranging, transforming, and correcting, an ideology of limitless improvement and change, defying the historicity, the mortality, and indeed the very materiality of the body" (Susan Bordo, ' "Material Girl": The Effacements of Postmodern Culture' in Unbearable Women, Western Culture, and the Body (Berkeley: university of California Press, 1993), 245.

Preternatural. Category of the 'yet to be explained', between the Natural and the Supernatural.

Prodigies. Examples of the intervention of God or the Devil in the rational/divine/natural order of things. Includes comets and monstrous births. See preternatural.

Prolificity. Margaret, wife of Count Virboslaus gave birth to thirty-six children on January 20, 1296. See Pare; Cromerus. Note also the case of Countess Margaret, daughter of Florent IV on Good Friday, 1278 claims 182 males, 182 female and 1 hermaphrodite; the Bishop of Treras baptized all of them either John or Elizabeth. Pliny records 12 births as maximum. Curious epitaph (1) 'Here lieth the body of Nicholas Hookes, of Conway, gentleman, who was one and fortieth child of his father, William Hookes, Esq., by Alice, his wife, and the father of 27 children. He died 20th March, 1637' Conway, Carnarvonshire.

Proportion. Distorted to produce monstrous forms.

Prosopthoracopagus. Image

Prosthesis.'That part of surgery which consists in supplying deficiencies, as by artificial limbs, teeth, etc" (1706).

Pygopagous twins. See Biddenden Maids

Rabelais, Francois. [This entry will be developed]

Rabbits. Graham's example of the rabbit-like children. British Medical Journal. i. 51. (1868). See also Mary Toft.

Rarities.'This is what prolongs the troubles of those afflicted with blind curiosity, i.e., those who seek out rarities simply in order to wonder at them and not in order to know them, for gradually they become so full of wonder that things of no importance are no less apt to arrest their attention than those whose investigation is more useful' see The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 1, pp. 354-56.

Rectum. There are records of cases of birth from the rectum! See Gould and Pyle pp. 120-21.

Resemblance Theory. Renaissance idea of equivalences, eg between sea and land creatures, hence bishopfish, monkfish, sea-horses.

Ridicule. Use of monstrous representation. See Pope, 'Sporus' from Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot.

Roc. Giant bird mentioned in A Thousand and One Nights that fed elephants to its young, and sank one of Sinbad's ships by dropping rocks on it.

Romantic. See Lee Byron Jennings The Ludicrous Demon: Aspects of the Grotesque in German Post-Romantic Prose; Wordsworth's Prelude on London; Byron on Horace; Shelley's Frankenstein. Emphasis on dream and nightmare; psychological factors.

Rossetti. "use of the 'Faustian' grotesque in his early graphic work" (Victorian Culture and the Idea of the Grotesque, p. 2 ).

Royal Society, London. Transactions included many descriptions of monsters.

Ruskin. Stones of Venice described different kinds of grotesque including the 'noble'.

Sasquatch. Hairy biped or 'wildman' which inhabits mountains or woodland (Canada).

Satire. (From Satura, a 'medley' dealing with a variety of subjects; also associated with 'Satyr'). [This entry will be developed]

Saturnalia. In Roman times, a period of merrymaking held in December. See also World Turned Upside Down.

Satyr. 'One of a class of woodland gods or demons, in form partly human and partly bestial, supposed to be companions of Bacchus' (OED). Goat-people (satyrs) from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).

Sciapodes from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).

Schloss Ambras. [This entry will be developed]

Scottish Brothers. Conjoined twins at the Court of King James III. Skilled in music, languages. Had common sensation below the point of union; trunks fused in a single lower extremityDied at 28yrs, one several days before the other. See Buchanan. Rerum Scoticarum Historia, Aberdeen, 1762, L.xiii For similar examples see Gould and Pyle, pp. 184-187.

Scottish Literture. Exaggeration, grotesque. Kurt Wittig on Robert Henryson and Scottish literature examined "the juxtaposition of understatement and overstatement". See also Alasdair Gray's reworking of Frankenstein in Poor Things and Lanark. Ernest Baker claimed that Smollett had "that particular touch of acrid Scottish humour to be recognized in his compatriots Hawes and Dunbar, in the past, and in Charles Johnstone, Burns and Byron a little later.

Scythian lamb. Included in John Parkinson's Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris. Lamb on a stalk that survived by eating the grass that grew within its reach.Scythian Lamb

Sea creatures. 'So is the great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou has made play therein.'

Leviathan. Resemblance between land and sea forms e.g. monkfish and bishopfish.

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. See Caliban. See also Titus Andronicus.

Siamese twins. Conjoined twins such as Chang and Eng.

Sidney, Philip. "only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigor of his own invention, doth grow in effect into another Nature, inmaking things either better than Nature bringeth forth, or, quite anew forms such as never were in Nature, as the Heros, Demigods, Cyclops, Chimeras, Furies, and such like: so as he goeth hand in hand with nature, not enclosed within the narrow want of her gifts, but freely ranging only within the zodiac of his own wit." An Apology for Poetry.

Silvanus. Roman forest god, sometimes linked with sightings of 'wild men'.

Similarity and Difference. "In the past, individuals born with bodily differences, such as Siamese twins, dwarfs and midgets, or the human torso, would premise their sideshow exhibits on displays of their normality, which demonstrated their ability to accomplish everyday tasks with ease, to think intelligently, and to engage in respectable relationships with others [...] For example, the human torso Prince Randian was celebrated for his ability to roll a cigarette and light it with his mouth, and the marriage of the Siamese twins Chang and Eng to two normal sisters was widely publicized as proof of their remarkable condition. In contrast, those performers who were not born true freaks, such as the snake charmer, the savage, the strongman, or the tattooed person, emphasized their difference from the average person. If some biographies embellished the freak's identity by inventing exotic, faraway origins, others displayed an anxiety about genealogy, insisting on the normality of the freak's parents and offspring" (Rachel Adams, in Thomson [1996], pp. 278-9).

Sin. See also Death. Described in John Milton's Paradise Lost (Book II. 648-666):

Before the gates there sat

On either side a formidable shape;

The one seemed woman to the waist, and fair,

But ended foul in many a scaly fold

Voluminous and vast, a serpent armed

With mortal sting:a bout her middle round

A cry of hell hounds never ceasing barked

With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung

A hideous peal: yet, when they list, would creep,

If aught disturbed their noise, into her womb,

And kennel there, yet there still barked and howled,

Within unseen. Far less abhorred than these

Vexed Scylla bathing in the sea that parts

Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore:

Nor uglier follow the Night-hag, when called

In secret, riding through the air she comes

Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance

With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon

Eclipses at their charms.

Singularities. See for example Andre Thevet's Les Singularitiez de la france antarctique.

Siren. Triton and Siren from the Latin edition of Ambroise Pare's Des Monstres et Prodiges (1582).

Size. Large Man Daniel Lambert. Big-lipped monster from Hartman Schedel's Liber Chronicarum (1493).

Sodomy. Anal sex was considered Satanic or bestial. [This entry will be developed]

Snake-man. Caused by strong maternal impression (q.v.) during pregnancy of a woman attacked by a rattle-snake. Body had shape and action of a snake, and serpent-like teeth. See Copeland, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, p.98 (1839).

Spenser, Edmund. The Faerie Qveene. [This entry will be developed]

Sphinx. 'A hybrid monster, usually described as having the head of a woman and the (winged) body of a lion, which infested Thebes until the riddle it propounded was solved by Oedipus' (OED). See noble grotesque.

Sport (or play) of Nature. Lusus naturae. [This entry will be developed]

Stage machines. [This entry will be developed]

Steller, Georg Wilhelm. While aboard a ship in the Gulf of Alaska (11 August 1741), he recorded sighting a 'sea ape'. He also noted 35 feet long sea cows that grazed on seaweed. They are believed to have become extinct by 1768. [This entry will be developed].

Strange birth. At Stonehouse, Plymouth (1635).

Su. Described in Konrad Gesner's Historia Animalium, 'The most obnoxious animal that might be seen, called Su in the New Lands. There is a place in the newly found land where lives a people calling itself in its language Patagones, and since the land is not very warm they cover themselves with fur from an animal they call Su, which means Water, by reason of its dwelling mainly near water. It is very dreadful and obnoxious, as may be seen. When hunted by hunters it takes its young upon its back, covers them with its long tail and flees; will be caught in pits and killed with arrows.'

Sublime and grotesque. "In human nature, praiseworth qualities never are found without concurrent variations that must run through endless shadings to the utmost imperfection. The quality of the terrifying sublime, if it is quite unnatural, is adventurous. Unnatural things, so far as the sublime is supposed in them, although little or none at all may actually be found, are grotesque. Whoever loves and believes the fantastic is a visionary; the inclination toward whims makes the crank. On the other side, if the noble is completely lacking the feeling of the beautiful degenerates, and one calls it trifling. A male person of this quality, if he is young, is named a fop; if he is of middle age he is a dandy. Since the sublime is the most necessary to the elderly, an old dandy is the most contemptible creature in nature, just as a young crank is the most offensive and intolerable." (Immanuel Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, trans Goldthwait, 1960, p. 55) "Monasteries and such tombs, to confine the living saints are grotesque. Subduing one's passions through principles is sublime. Castigation, vows, and other such monks' virtues are grotesque. Holy bones, holy wood, and all similar rubbish, the holy stool of the High Lama of Tibet not excluded, are grotesque. Of the works of wit and fine feeling, the epic poems of Vergil and Klopstock fall into the noble, of Homer and Milton into the adventurous. The Metamorphoses of Ovid are grotesque; the fairy tales of French foolishness are the most miserbale grotesqueries ever hatched. Anacreontic poems are generally very close to the trifling" (Immanuel Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, trans Goldthwait, 1960, pp. 56-57).


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Swift, Jonathan. Grotesque execution in Swift's Gulliver's Travels: "The Malefactor was fixed in a Chair upon a Scaffold erected for the Purpose; and his Head cut off at one Blow with a Sword of about forty Foot long. The Veins and Arteries spouted up such a prodigious Quantity of Blood, and so high in the Air, that the great Jet d'Eau at Versailles was not equal for the Time it lasted; and the Head when it fell on the Scaffold Floor, gave such a Bounce, as made me start, although I were at least an English Mile distant" (II.v.). See Yahoo

Supernatural. Demonic forms usually grotesque. [This entry will be developed]

Surprise. Important characteristic of grotesque entertainments. [This entry will be developed]

Tennyson. 'Wordsworth, Tennyson and Browning; or, Pure, Ornate, and Grotesque Art in English Poetry.' See Walter Bagehot, Essay, National Review, November 1864.

Theology of Monsters. See A true and strange birth. At Stonehouse, Plymouth (1635).

Taxonomy. [This entry will be developed]

Thevet, Andre. Sixteenth century collector of prodigies.

Titus Andronicus. "Andronicus, upon these calamities, feigned himself distracted and went raving about the city, shooting his arrows towards heaven, as in defiance, calling to hell for vengeance, which mainly pleased the Empress and her sons, who thought themselves now secure; and though his friends required justice of the Emperor against the ravishers, yet they could have no redress, he rather threatening them, if they insisted on it; so that finding they were in a bad case and that in all probability their lives would be next, they conspired together to prevent that mischief and revenge themselves; lying in ambush in the forest when the two sons went a-hunting, they surprised them, and binding them to a tree pitifully crying out for mercy, though they would give none to others, Andronicus cut their throats whilst Lavinia, by his command, held a bowl between her stumps to recieve the blood; then conveying the bodies home to his own house privately, he cut the flesh into fit pieces and ground the bones to powder and made of them two might pasties, and invited the Emperor and Empress to dinner, who, thinking to make sport with his frantic hunor, came; but when they heard eat of the pasties, he told them what it was; and thereupon giving the watchword to his friends, they immediately issued out, slew the Emperor's guards, and, lastly, the Emperor and his cruel wife, after they had sufficiently upbraided them with the wicked deeds they had done. Then seizing on the wicked Moor, the fearful villain fell on his knees, promising to discover all. But when he had told how he had killed the Prince, betrayed the three sons of Andronicus by false accusation, and counseled the abuse to the fair Lavinia, they scarce knew what torments sufficient to devise for him; but at last digging a hole, they set him in the ground to the middle alive, smeared him over with honey, and so, between the stinging of the bees and wasps and starving, his miserably ended his wretched days. After this, to prevent the torments he expected when these things came to be known, at his daughter's request he killed her; and so, rejoicing he had revenged himself on his enemies to the full, fell on his sword and died." In Shakespeare's play, the relevant lines are Act V.ii.167-206. Critic H.B. Charlton writes "So great is the weght of horror that the response of the senses themselves is finally stunned to stupor, and the disabled sensibility is deprived of the power to prompt mind and imagination to cope with such tremendous issues as are the essence of tragedy, the ultimate mysteries of human destiny. 'Those who employ spectacular means to create a sense of the not of the terrible, but only of the monstrous, are strangers to the purpose of Tragedy' (Aristotle, Poetics, XIV, 2)." Shakesprearian Tragedy (Cambridge University Press, 1948). See also Shakespeare, Caliban.

Tofts, Mary. The famous 18th-century rabbit-woman. [This entry will be developed]

Triton. Triton and Siren from the Latin edition of Ambroise Pare's Des Monstres et Prodiges (1582).

Transformation. [This entry will be developed]

Turtle-man. Parvin's example of the fisherman's wife frightened during pregnancy by the sight of a live turtle placed in a cupboard. International Medical Magazine, Phila. June 1892. See ectromelus and phocomelus.

Unicorn. 'But the cruellest is the Unicorn, a monster that belloweth horrible, bodyed like a horse, footed like an elephant, tayled like a swyne, and headed like a Stagge. His horn sticketh out the middle of hys forehead, of a wonderful brightness about foure foote long, so sharp, that whatsover he pusheth at, he striketh it through easily. he is never caught alive; kylled he may be, but taken he cannot bee' (1587). In the Bible see Job 39:9-12.

Verisimilitude. According to Vasari, Leonardo painted 'figures that lived and breathed'

Wanley, Nathaniel. Book on Wonders. [This entry will be developed]

Wild Boy. Wild Men. See Yeti, Abominbale Snowman, Silvanus. [These entries will be developed]. See Richard Bernheimer's Wild Men in the Middle Ages.

Wonder. 'This is what prolongs the troubles of those afflicted with blind curiosity, i.e., those who seek out rarities simply in order to wonder at them and not in order to know them, for gradually they become so full of wonder that things of no importance are no less apt to arrest their attention than those whose investigation is more useful' see The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 1, pp. 354-56. Montaigne: "Iris is the daughter of Thaumas. Wonder is the foundation of all philosophy, inquiry its progress, ignorance its end" (Essays, p. 788)

Wordsworth. Wordsworth, Tennyson and Browning; or, Pure, Ornate, and Grotesque Art in English Poetry. See Walter Bagehot, Essay, National Review, November 1864. See also Prelude, Book VII.

World Turned Upside Down. Carnivalesque. [This entry will be developed]

Yahoo. "Their Shape was very singular, and deformed, which a little discomposed me ..." See Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

Yeti. Hairy biped or 'wildman' which inhabits mountains or woodland.

Zombie. Walking dead. Originated from voodoo beliefs (Haiti).


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