Catalogue


Immortal monster : the mythological evolution of the fantastic beast in modern fiction and film /
Joseph D. Andriano.
imprint
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
description
xix, 179 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0313306672 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
isbn
0313306672 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
2644641
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [167]-174) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1999-06-01:
With unabashed Darwinism and poststructuralism, Andriano (Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana) dissects the immortal monster of modern fiction and film. The guts of his study consists of applying the evolutionary mythologies of Huxley, Wells, and Carl Sagan to such enduring monsters as Melville's prototypical Moby Dick and the classic King Kong. The author argues that a hierarchical evolutionary model of "The Ladder of Being" is not only metaphorically wrong but racist, and should be eschewed in favor of the ecologically unifying, bushy "Tree of Life." Finding worthy fossils of significance in junk media like Jaws and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Andriano capably offers a literary and literate analysis of how these beasts, as either anthropomorphized animals or bestial humans, show us ourselves. Even with a few politically correct commercials for saving whales, Andriano captures the ambivalence of the monster, savage and civilized, as it exists near and within humanity. He explains his own evolutionary scriptures with the passion of a true believer and contributes a provocative study for bridging the worlds of science and popular culture. He should be applauded for even trying to frame and figure the mortal asymmetry of such fantastic beasts. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. T. Lindvall Regent University
Reviews
Review Quotes
'œ[A]ndriano captures the ambivalence of the monster, savage and civilized, as it exists near and within humanity. He explains his own evolutionary scriptures with passion of a true believer and contributes a provocative study for bridging the worlds of science and popular culture. He should be applauded for even trying to frame and figure the mortal asymmetry of such fantastic beasts.'' Choice
"[A]ndriano captures the ambivalence of the monster, savage and civilized, as it exists near and within humanity. He explains his own evolutionary scriptures with passion of a true believer and contributes a provocative study for bridging the worlds of science and popular culture. He should be applauded for even trying to frame and figure the mortal asymmetry of such fantastic beasts."- Choice
'œImmortal Monster offers enough new insights and intelligent readings to make it easily worth the attention of anyone interested in the etiology of pop-culture monsters.'' Science Fiction Studies
"Immortal Monster offers enough new insights and intelligent readings to make it easily worth the attention of anyone interested in the etiology of pop-culture monsters."- Science Fiction Studies
'œ[T]his is an enlightening work that helps the reader understand the evolution of monsters in literature and film and their relationship to the humans who created them, either in myth or fiction.'' Extrapolation
"[T]his is an enlightening work that helps the reader understand the evolution of monsters in literature and film and their relationship to the humans who created them, either in myth or fiction."- Extrapolation
'œ[I]nformative and entertaining.'' Science Fiction Chronicle
"[I]nformative and entertaining."- Science Fiction Chronicle
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
Monsters figure prominently in classic works of literature as well as in films and stories intended for a wide audience. Since Darwin's time, most of these imaginary beasts have taken the form of natural creatures, rather than supernatural ones. This volume explores both literary and cinematic texts that are especially explicit in their depiction of beasts in Darwinian terms, though these same monsters retain an archaic mythological aspect. The myth of Leviathan and Behemoth, for instance, is at the heart of Jaws as much as it is central to Moby-Dick; indeed, Jaws inherits the myth directly from Moby-Dick, as does King Kong. These and other monster tales keep the myth alive by retelling it in the context of biological and cultural evolution. There is a pattern of alternating bestialization and anthropomorphism in many monster tales, suggesting that these images are being displayed in repeated attempts to define who we are in relation to animals. As fables of identity, these tales dramatize our anxieties and,fears concerning our own animal nature and help us come to terms with our own evolution.
Long Description
Imaginary beasts have figured prominently in literary works ever since the ancient world, when these myths were first formulated. But the nineteenth century witnessed the rise of science, the discovery of geological findings that challenged the biblical myth of creation, and the birth of Darwin's theory of evolution. Since then, monsters have evolved from supernatural creatures to natural ones endowed with exceptional size, strength, or intelligence. This book explores both literary and cinematic texts that are especially explicit in their Darwinian portrayal of monstrous beasts, though these creatures retain an archaic mythological quality. The myth of Leviathan and Behemoth, for instance, is as central to Jaws as it is to Moby-Dick; indeed, Jaws inherits the myth directly from Moby-Dick, as does King Kong. These and other monster tales, such as The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Grendel, keep the ancient myth alive and relevant by recasting it in the context of biological and cultural evolution. There is a pattern of alternating bestialization and anthropomorphism in many monster tales, suggesting that these images are being displayed in repeated attempts to define who we are in relation to animals. Thus the more beastly the monster, the more insistently we erect the old paradigm of the Ladder of Being, placing ourselves on a higher and separate rung; but the more human-like the creature, the more readily we shift to the paradigm of the Tree of Life, in which all creatures are more closely related. Since the matter of distinctions between species also involves questions of race, the monster myth is often conscripted to serve racist agendas. But more often than not, the myth has an anti-racist subtext that undercuts the hierarchy. The closing chapters of the volume consider the notion of artificial evolution in works such as The Island of Dr. Moreau, and human-machine interaction in Gravity's Rainbow. As fables of identity, monster tales dramatize our anxieties and fears about our own animal nature and provide a means of coming to terms with our evolution.
Table of Contents
Preface Introduction: Reading the Beast Fantastic
Nature's Dragon: Race and Evolution in Moby-Dick Shades of Moby-Dick: Jaws, Orca, Beast
King Kong and His Son: From Dragon-Ape to Teddy-Bear
Primate Revisions: Replanting the Family
Tree Leviathan in the Lagoon Monsters of the Mere
The Archipelago of Dr. Moreau Rocket Leviathan
Works Cited
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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