Rethinking the Concept of the Grotesque
Crashaw, Baudelaire, Magritte

Shun-Liang Chao

Studies In Comparative Literature 22

Legenda

12 April 2010  •  196pp

ISBN: 978-1-906540-82-1 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

EnglishFrenchArtPoetry


How are we to define what is grotesque, in art or literature? Since the Renaissance the term has been used for anything from the fantastic to the monstrous, and been associated with many artistic genres, from the Gothic to the danse macabre. Shun-Liang Chao's new study adopts a rigorous approach by establishing contradictory physicality and the notion of metaphor as two keys to the construction of a clear identity of the grotesque. With this approach, Chao explores the imagery of Richard Crashaw, Charles Baudelaire, and René Magritte as individual exemplars of the grotesque in the Baroque, Romantic, and Surrealist ages, in order to suggest a lineage of this curious aesthetic and to cast light on the functions of the visual and of the verbal in evoking it.

Shun-Liang Chao completed a PhD in European Comparative Literature at University College, London. He teaches English and Comparative Literature at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.

Awarded an Honourable Mention by the judges of the 2013 Anna Balakian Prize, for the outstanding first book in comparative literature studies by a single author under forty years of age; with a presentation made at the 20th Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA), at Paris IV-Sorbonne on 18 July 2013. The citation reads: "Shun-Liang Chao’s book has an astonishing sweep, going from the baroque and metaphysical Crashaw to the pre-modern romantic Baudelaire and finally settling on the surrealist Magritte. It is a daring work and the inter-artistic connections (Bosch, Arcimboldo, Goya, and many more) are impressive. This selection of the figures for comparison was brilliant, extending over a range of three centuries, two cultures, and two artistic media: a metaphysical poet, a symbolist, and a surrealist. The survey of the history of the grotesque was thorough and generally well conceived, and the analysis of each of the three figures considered was truly a ‘mutual illumination,’ y

Reviews:

  • ‘There is much to admire in this stimulating and well-researched study, not least its invitation to reconsider the significance not only of the grotesque itself, but also of other influential and related aesthetic terms such as the sublime, the uncanny, and the fantastic.’ — Damian Catani, Modern Language Review 106.4, 2011, 1129-31 (full text online)
  • ‘Succeeds in its aims to define the grotesque, give insight into its use of visual and verbal media, and demonstrate its progression through time... a well-reasoned and well-researched book that is a welcome contribution to the study of the Grotesque, as well as to the literature on Crashaw, Baudelaire and Magritte.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 48.3, June 2012, 357-58

Bibliography entry:

Chao, Shun-Liang, Rethinking the Concept of the Grotesque: Crashaw, Baudelaire, Magritte, Studies In Comparative Literature, 22 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2010)

First footnote reference: 35 Shun-Liang Chao, Rethinking the Concept of the Grotesque: Crashaw, Baudelaire, Magritte, Studies In Comparative Literature, 22 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2010), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Chao, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Chao, Shun-Liang. 2010. Rethinking the Concept of the Grotesque: Crashaw, Baudelaire, Magritte, Studies In Comparative Literature, 22 (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Chao 2010: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Chao 2010: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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