Deformed Discourse: The Function of the Monster in Mediaeval Thought and Literature
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.
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PART ONE THEORY
The Language of the Monstrous
PART TWO TAXONOMY
PART THREE TEXTS
affirmative Alexander Alexander's allegory anagogical analogy animal apophasis apophatic Blemmye body cannibalism cataphatic cephalophores Christ Christian Christopher cognition concept created creature cult death deformed Delcourt described Dionysian Dionysius discourse dissimilitude divine division dragon earth enigma Eriugena existence expression female figure function Gawain giant Golden Legend Greek Green Knight grotesque head hermaphroditic hero hero's human Ibid iconography idea identifies intellect is-not Jesus Judas Laius language legend limits logical male McGill University meaning mediaeval metaphor metaphysical Middle Ages mind monster myth narrative nature negation negative negative theology Neoplatonic Neoplatonists Oedipus ontological opposites origin paradox Periphyseon physical possible Proclus Pseudo-Callisthenes Pseudo-Dionysius rational reality realm relation representation represented reveals rhetorical saint Scotus Scripture seen sense sexual signified similitude sphinx spirit St Denis story structure suggests symbolic teratological teratology Thebes theology theory thing thought tion tradition transcendence translation Trinity understanding unity vagina dentata versions Wilgeforte words