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Title:  On the Grotesque: Strategies of Contradiction in Art and Literature  Author:  Geoffrey Galt Harpham Series:  Critical Studies in the Humanities Imprint:  The Davies Group, Publishers soft cover 304 pp. USD 27.00 ISBN 978-1888570854 May  2006 The concept of the grotesque appeared in the Renaissance, when the word grottesche was first used as a name for a new, or newly discovered, type of decorative art that incorporated human, floral, and animal elements, compromising a commonsensical distinction between the figural art of the center and the ornamental art of the margin. In this classic study, Harpham argues that the richest understanding of the grotesque derives from precisely such a confusion between margin and center, or between an art that represents the world as conventionally perceived and the world as imagined in dreams, fantasies, or myths. Through discussions of pictorial art from the Paleolithic art of the cave, or "grotto" to more recent times, and of narratives by Bronte, Poe, Mann, and Conrad, Harpham argues that the grotesque should be seen not as an artistic anomaly or aberration but as a "species of confusion" that structures the concept of art itself. A final chapter on the aesthetic theories of Kant, Hegel, Ruskin, and others tracks the ways in which the grotesque has haunted the thinking of the leading theorists of the Western tradition. By locating the grotesque not on the margins of certain works of art but at the center of the concept of art, Harpham suggests that the problems raised by the grotesque provide a unique perspective on questions of general importance. This reissue includes a new introduction by the author that recalls the personal and intellectual context in which the book was written. It is amusing, and highly instructive for those writing a first book. Contents List of Illustrations Preface to the Second Edition Preface to the 1982 Edition Acknowledgments Part One Chapter one. Formation, Deformation, and Reformation: An Introduction to the Grotesque Chapter two. Grotesque and Grottesche Chapter three. Grotesque and Grotto-esque Part Two Chapter four. Walking on Silence: The Lamination of Narratives in Wuthering Heights Chapter five. Permeability and the Grotesque: “The Masque of the Red Death” Chapter six. Metaphor, Marginality, and Parody in Death in Venice Chapter seven. To Make You Sea: Conrad’s Primal Words Chapter eight. Conclusion: Doodles, Dragons, Dissonance, and Discovery Notes Index Author Geoffrey Galt Harpham is President and Director of the National Humanities Center, and Visiting Research Professor of English at Duke University and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to On the Grotesque, Professor Harpham has authored such notable titles as Language Alone: The Critical Fetish of Modernity, Shadows of Ethics: Criticism and the Just Society, and One of Us: The Mastery of Joseph Conrad.
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