Grotesques in Literature

This course examines characters who are displaced, addled, alienated, and flat-out bizarre. This gallery of rogues, outlaws, and eccentrics includes, among many others, Miss Lonelyhearts, a journalist who finds himself totally inadequate to responding in his column to the very serious problems of his clientele, and the self-designated Misfit, who tries to kill his way to Christ. The methods of delivery in these texts are often as outlandish as the characters they depict: Grendel, for example, delivers not a first-person but a first-monster narrative. Certainly these figures and their circumstances are grotesque, but perhaps surprisingly, these unfortunate creatures prove to be not only appalling but appealing, surprising as well as sordid, and both awful and amusing.

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