Monsters and their Meanings in Early Modern Culture: Mighty Magic

Hardcover | June 15, 2011

byWes Williams

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To call something 'monstrueux' in the mid-sixteenth century is, more often than not, to wonder at its enormous size: it is to call to mind something like a whale. By the late seventeenth century, 'monstrueux' is more likely to denote hidden intentions, unspoken desires. Several shifts are atwork in this word history, and in what Othello calls the 'mighty magic' of monsters; these shifts can be described in a number of ways. The clearest, and most compelling, is the translation or migration of the monstrous from natural history to moral philosophy, from descriptions of creatures foundin the external world to the drama of human motivation, of sexual and political identity. This interdisciplinary study of monsters and their meanings advances by way of a series of close readings supported by the exploration of a wide range of texts and images, from many diverse fields, which all concern themselves with illicit coupling, unarranged marriages, generic hybridity, and thepolitics of monstrosity. Engaging with recent, influential accounts of monstrosity - from literary critical work (Huet, Greenblatt, Thomson Burnett, Hampton), to histories of science and 'bio-politics' (Wilson, Ceard, Foucault, Daston and Park, Agamben) - it focusses on the ways in which monstersgive particular force, colour, and shape to the imagination; the image at its centre is the triangulated picture of Andromeda, Perseus and the monster, approaching.The centre of the book's gravity is French culture, but it also explores Shakespeare, and Italian, German, and Latin culture, as well as the ways in which the monstrous tales and images of Antiquity were revived across the period, and survive into our own times.

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To call something 'monstrueux' in the mid-sixteenth century is, more often than not, to wonder at its enormous size: it is to call to mind something like a whale. By the late seventeenth century, 'monstrueux' is more likely to denote hidden intentions, unspoken desires. Several shifts are atwork in this word history, and in what Othell...

Wes Williams was born in Rangoon in 1963. He spent his childhood in India, and his teenage years in Croydon. He moved to Oxford as a student, studied French and German at St John's, and spent two years studying in Germany (one year in Hamburg, and another in Berlin). He was Fellow in French at New College for 15 years before moving to...

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Hardcover|Jan 1 1999

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:June 15, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199577021

ISBN - 13:9780199577026

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Table of Contents

List of imagesNote on translations and referencesIntroduction: 'Mighty Magic'1. Rabelais's monsters: Andromeda, natural history, and romance2. 'Monstrueuses guerres': Ronsard, mythology, and the writing of war3. Montaigne's children: metaphor, medicine, and the imagination4. Corneille's Andromeda: painting, medicine, and the politics of spectacle5. Pascal's monsters: angels, beasts, and human being6. Racine's children: the end of the lineEpilogue: Between testimony and hearsayBibliographyIndex