Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque (1994) is a short story collection by Joyce Carol Oates in which she defined grotesque as that sensibility as the antithesis of "nice."

"The protracted onstage torture of Shakespeare's Gloucester in King Lear is the very height of the theatrical grotesque, but so is in less graphic terms, the fate of Samuel Beckett's hapless heroes and heroines-the female mouth of Mouth, for instance. From Nikolai Gogol's "The Nose" to Paul Bowles's "A Distant Episode," from images of demonic flesh of Max Klinger, Edvard Munch, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele to Francis Bacon, Eric Fischl, Robert Gober; from Jeremias Gotthelf ("The Black Spider," 1842) to postmodern fantasists Angela Carter, Thomas Ligotti, Clive Barker, Lisa Tuttle and mainstream best-sellers Stephen King, Peter Straub, Anne Rice - we recognize the bold strokes of the grotesque, however widely styles vary. (Is a ghost story inevitably of the genre of the grotesque? - no. Victorian ghost stories, on the whole, are too "nice"-too ladylike, whatever the sex of the writer. Much of Henry James's ghostly fiction, like that of his contemporaries Edith Wharton and Gertrude Atherton, though elegantly written, is too genteel to qualify.) The grotesque is the hideous animal-men of H. G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau, or the taboo-images of the most inspired filmmaker of the grotesque of our time, David Cronenberg (The Fly, The Brood, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch) - that is, the grotesque always possesses a blunt physicality that no amount of epistemological exegesis can exorcise. One might define it, in fact, as the very antithesis of "nice."" -- [1]




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