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Deformed Discourse: The Function of the Monster in Mediaeval Thought and Literature
     

Deformed Discourse: The Function of the Monster in Mediaeval Thought and Literature

by David Williams
 

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Part I traces the poetics of teratology, the study of monsters, to Christian neoplatonic theology and philosophy, particularly Pseudo-Dionysius's negative theology and his central idea that God cannot be known except by knowing what he is not. Williams argues that the principles of negative theology as applied to epistemology and language made possible a symbolism

Overview

Part I traces the poetics of teratology, the study of monsters, to Christian neoplatonic theology and philosophy, particularly Pseudo-Dionysius's negative theology and his central idea that God cannot be known except by knowing what he is not. Williams argues that the principles of negative theology as applied to epistemology and language made possible a symbolism of negation and paradox whose chief sign was the monster. Part II provides a taxonomy of monstrous forms with a gloss on each, and Part III examines the monstrous and the deformed in three heroic sagas — the medieval Oedipus, The Romance of Alexander, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight — and three saints' lives — Saint Denis, Saint Christopher, and Saint Wilgeforte. The book is beautifully illustrated with medieval representations of monsters. The most comprehensive study of the grotesque in medieval aesthetic expression, Deformed Discourse successfully brings together medieval research and modern criticism.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Deformed Discourse is absolutely excellent. This fundamental study marks a milestone in the history of research on the monstrous in the Middle Ages and on Western ways of thinking. I can state without hesitation that Williams has produced a magnum opus on this subject, with a highly personal approach, providing an overview of all previous works on the monster and the philosophical, theological, aesthetic, and literary context. His vision is at once encyclopedic, critical, and completely fresh ... This is clearly the work of a researcher in full maturity. Its many qualities place it in the front rank." [translation] Claude-Claire Kappler, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780859895415
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
Publication date:
01/01/1996
Series:
University of Exeter Press - Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies Series
Pages:
390

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