Tag Archives: Frankenstein

Genres of Literature – Grotesque


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The Grotesque is often linked with satire and tragicomedy, in which the author conveys grief and pain to the audience. The term was first used to denote a literary genre with Montaigne’s Essays. Many of the earliest written texts described grotesque happenings and monstrous creatures within mythology, which was of course a rich source of monsters. Examples, such as the one-eyed Cyclops from Hesiod’s Theogony or Polyphemus in Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where we find grotesque transformations and hybrid creatures of myth. 

This genre was a departure from the classical models of order, reason, harmony, balance and form, opening up an entry into grotesque worlds. British literature abounds with native grotesquerie, from the strange worlds of Spenser’s allegory in The Faerie Queene, to the tragi-comic modes of 16th-century drama. 

Occasionally, literary works of mixed genre are termed grotesque, such as “low” or non-literary genres such as pantomime and farce. Gothic writings often have grotesque components such as character, style and location while other describe the environment as grotesque. Examples being urban (Charles Dickens), or American south literature,  termed as “Southern Gothic”. Other grotesque uses have been social and cultural formations, such as the carnival(-esque) in François Rabelais and Mikhail Bakhtin. Or in satirical writings of the 18th century, such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Thereby fictional characters are considered grotesque if they induce both empathy and disgust by way of physically deformity or mental deficiency, but also if the character has cringe-worthy social traits. In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the figure of Caliban inspired more nuanced reactions than simple scorn and disgust. Also, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the character of Gollum may be considered to have both disgusting and empathetic qualities, which fit him into the grotesque template.

One of the most celebrated grotesques in literature is Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and of course Dr. Frankenstein’s monster can also be considered a grotesque, although he is presented more sympathetically as the outsider who is the victim of society’s alienation as they describe him as  ‘the creature.’

There are also examples of grotesque literature during the nineteenth-century, however the grotesque body was displaced by the notion of congenital deformity or medical anomaly.  And more in terms of deformity and disability, especially after the First World War, 1914-18. The growth of prosthetic’s created themes of half-mechanical men and became an important theme in dadaist work.

You may be surprise to know that Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is deemed grotesque literature due to the many fantastic grotesque figures she meets. However, Carroll managed to make the figures seem less frightful and fit for children’s literature.

Were any of these surprising to you?

Have you written grotesque fiction?

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Genres of Literature – Horror


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Horror is a genre of fiction, of which, the defining trait is to provoke a response; either emotional, psychological or physical, within readers that causes them to react with fear, dread, disgust, or is frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting and even startles it’s readers with the text.

Horror: Ancient Greece and Rome

This genre has ancient origins with roots in folklore and religious traditions, which focused on death, the afterlife, evil, the demonic and also a ‘thing’ embodied in the person. This manifested as stories of witchcraft, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts.

Horror: Medieval Era

Much of horror fiction derived itself from the cruelest faces in world history, particularly those who lived in the fifteenth-century. “Dracula” can be traced to the Prince of Wallachia Vlad III, whose alleged war crimes were published in German pamphlets in the late Fifteenth Century and resulted in stories of horrifying detail.

Gothic horror: 18th century

Slowly the horror genre became traditional Gothic literature. 18th century Gothic horror drew on sources of seminal and controversial elements of the supernatural instead of pure realism.

Horror: 19th century

After the Gothic tradition blossomed the genre became the horror literature we now know in the 19th century. Influential works and characters still continue to resonate, such as Brother’s Grimm and Hansel & Gretel (1812) and of course Frankenstein (1818) and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (1820)

Horror:20th century

Cheap periodicals became prolific at the turn of the century, leading to a boom in horror writing. Horror writers of the time included H.P. Lovecraft pioneering cosmic horror and M.R. James redefining the ghost story. Also the serial murderer became a recurring theme.

Contemporary horror fiction

As most of you know Stephen King is my hero and it is the best-known contemporary horror writer. His stories have delighted and frightened many of us for decades, from Carrie to Sleeping Beauties and all those tales in-between.

I have to admit as a prolific reader of Mr. King, I am wary of ever writing a horror story because I don’t think I can measure up to his expertise.

Do you write horror? What theme do you favor?

What horror writers/books have you read and ‘enjoyed’?