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Monsters and Their Meanings in Early Modern Culture


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Table of Contents

List of images Note on translations and references Introduction: 'Mighty Magic' 1: Rabelais's monsters: Andromeda, natural history, and romance 2: 'Monstrueuses guerres': Ronsard, mythology, and the writing of war 3: Montaigne's children: metaphor, medicine, and the imagination 4: Corneille's Andromeda: painting, medicine, and the politics of spectacle 5: Pascal's monsters: angels, beasts, and human being 6: Racine's children: the end of the line Epilogue: Between testimony and hearsay Bibliography Index

About the Author

Wes Williams was born in Rangoon in 1963; he spent his childhood in India, and his teenage years in Croydon. He moved to Oxford as student, studied French and German at St John's, and spent two years studying in Germany (one year in Hamburg, and another in Berlin). He was Fellow in French at New College for 15 years before moving to his present position at St Edmund Hall. Alongside his academic life, he also works as a writer and director for the theatre, and in film.


This is a book born of long and deep reflection on its subjects' writings (especially Montaigne's), and attends to both the tiny stitches of an essay, play or fiction, and to the larger design. As Williams maps the linkages and the meanings to which they lead, he can listen with a tuner's sensitivity to the internal rhymes in a line of Racine and to their equivalents in Ted Hughes's rendering, or, zooming out, can give a sweeping overview of the poliical context. His methods persuasively combine material historicity with some inspiration from "universal" deconstructionism and psychoanalysis; the results are rich and layered, and show how barren theoretical purism can be. * Marina Warner, Times Literary Supplement *

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