The Grotesque (Philip John Thomson)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Grotesque (Methuen Critical Idiom Series, 1972) is a book by Philip John Thomson on the grotesque sensibility in literature.


A basic definition of the grotesque

"The basic definition of the grotesque: the unresolved clash of incompatibles in work and response. It is significant this clash is paralleled by the ambivalent nature of the abnormal as present in the grotesque: we might consider a secondary definition of the grotesque to be the 'ambivalently abnormal' (Philip Thomson, The Grotesque (1972), 27).

On the grotesque body

For Bakhtin-and one finds it difficult to disagree with him-the grotesque is essentially physical, referring always to the body and bodily excesses and celebrating these in an uninhibited, outrageous but essentially joyous fashion. The carnival, that favourite popular arena for the indulging of physical excess, is seen by Bakhtin as the grotesque event par excellence, the place where the common people abandoned themselves to exuberantly obscene excesses of a physical kind. One can see a whole popular tradition of the grotesque here, ranging from the ancient satyr-plays to the commedia dell'arte (cf. Jacques Callot's marvellously grotesque illustrations of commedia dell'arte characters and scenes), with important links with dramatists as far apart as Aristophanes and the 'pataphysicist' Alfred Jarry, creator of the monstrously grotesque Ubu figure. It might be objected that Bakhtin's view of the grotesque is idiosyncratic and narrow (he develops it principally in connection with Rabelais, to whom it applies very well), but his insistence on the physical nature of the grotesque and on the primitive delight in what is obscene, cruel and even barbaric is quite justified. We would only wish to add that this delight constitutes only one possible aspect of the response to the grotesque. --[1] Philip Thomson, The Grotesque. Methuen Critical Idiom Series, 1972, p 56.)


This list is from the index of The Grotesque (1972) by Philip John Thomson, which is somewhat axed towards German literature.


Arthur Adamov - Aristophanes - Walter Bagehot - Mikhail Bakhtin - John Barth - Samuel Beckett - Bellerive (Joseph Tishler - Gottfried Benn - Henri Bergson - William Blake - Hieronymus Bosch - Bertolt Brecht - Robert Browning - Pieter Brueghel - Jacques Callot - Albert Camus - Elias Canetti - Lewis Carroll - G. K. Chesterton - John Cleveland - Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Ludwig Curtius - Salvador Dalí - Dante - Honoré Daumier - Charles Dickens - Denis Diderot - J. P. Donleavy - Friedrich Dürrenmatt - Max Ernst - William Faulkner - Federico Fellini - Sigmund Freud - Jean Genet - Francisco Goya - Grandville - Günter Grass - Robert Graves - George Grosz - Joseph Heller - E. T. A. Hoffmann - Victor Hugo - Eugène Ionesco - Alfred Jarry - Jean Paul - Franz Kafka - Friederike Kempner - G. Wilson Knight - Comte de Lautréamont - D. H. Lawrence - Edward Lear - C. S. Lewis - Gerhard Mensching - Christian Morgenstern - Justus Moser - Vladimir Nabokov - Joe Orton - Harold Pinter - Edgar Allan Poe - François Rabelais - Raphael - Rainer Maria Rilke - John Ruskin - Friedrich Schlegel - Heinrich Schneegans - William Shakespeare - Tobias Smollett - Michael Steig - Laurence Sterne - John Addington Symonds - Jonathan Swift - Dylan Thomas - Friedrich Theodor Vischer - Vitruvius - Evelyn Waugh - Thomas Wright

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