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Shvoong Home>Books>The Grotesque In English Literature Review

The Grotesque In English Literature

Book Review   by:Chencho     Original Author: Clayborough
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Clayborough's work was published in the sixties,at the peak of the popularity of the theatre of the absurd,one of the outstanding genres of the grotesque,but it is still an important book of reference for all the scholars and students dealing with the subject,or any member of the broader public who is interested in it. The first chapter of the book looks back at the history of the meaning of the word "grotesque".It was used first in the 16th century to describe the surprising forms of ancient art that combine vegetal,animal and human forms.Later,in the 18th century the word started to be used in a wider sense,and it got a negative meaning.Something ugly,monstrous was expressed by it.For authors like Burke the grotesque was the opposite of the sublime.The sublime was magnificent,while the grotesque was characterised by triviality.Sir W.Scott noticed that the grotesque despite its humorous element has an allience with the horrible. Its ambiguity makes it the best tool to express the tension between the supernatural intuitions of people and their petty physical circumstances,as Ruskin pointed out. This is why the grotesque has had an outstanding importance in modern art and modern literature,from dada,through absurd theatre, to nonsensical poetry it represents the controversial situation of human beings who know that there are no simple answers to the questions concerning their existence
Published: March 20, 2007   
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