Immortal Monster: The Mythological Evolution of the Fantastic Beast in Modern Fiction and Film

Synopsis

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.

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