Monday, 29 February 2016

Creepy Reads Review: Textual demons and unnatural grotesqueness

Hello there!

I was not suppose to go a whole month without writing anything but unfortunately for the last month I've been extremely busy with my studies. So, I decided to feature two books I've been reading lately, that are related to my Master's Thesis. It's not as if I have any other life these days.

The other one of the books is the doctoral thesis of Ilkka Mäyrä named Demonic texts and textual demons: the demonic tradition, the self, and popular fiction (1999), and the other one is a collection of scientific papers, The grotesque and the unnatural (2011), edited by Markku Salmela and Jarkko Toikkanen.

As I've mentioned before, I am writing my thesis about grotesque in 21st century, in a French collection of short stories. In my thesis I construct a theory about what grotesque is nowadays and apply my hypothesis on the mentioned collection of short stories. Demonic texts and textual demons and The grotesque and the unnatural have been useful building blocks for me while I've pondered about the essence of contemporary grotesque.

The contributors of the collection of papers are researchers of literature and cultural studies who all find grotesque intriguing. Many of them emphasize how the way something is narrated or viewed creates the grotesque effect. This means that a human presence and participation is vital for something to be grotesque.

The papers of The grotesque and the unnatural are not purely about theory but instead many of them combine theories with analyses on novels or other products of culture and civilization. For instance, Mathilde Régent, who studied at Université Paris Diderot, contributed a paper about the grotesque in French medical discourse in the 16th century.

I of course have read this collection from the viewpoint of my own thesis but I believe for others too this could be an interesting read.

Ilkka Mäyrä's doctoral thesis is about demons in Western culture. It can be read online here, if my short introduction of it gets you interested.

In his thesis Mäyrä investigates what different roles demons have had and what things we consider demonic. He constructs theories and then applies them in case studies: among them The Exorcist and Ira Levin's novel Rosemary's baby. Mäyrä's work is both informative and entertaining. His writing flows easily and you do not have to be a literature student to understand it.

A great portion of Mäyrä's thesis is about how demonic features are linked to the self. He points out how in Ancient Greece people would explain the odd behavior of a human with daemons possessing him/her, and how in Freud's psychoanalysis the id (the unconscious part of the individual) has many demonic qualities. Needless to say that the way Mäyrä contemplates on the whole relation between "demon" and "human" has an essential role in my own thesis.

I can sincerely recommend both these books. I hope you too found this post of mine entertaining / interesting! :)

Short announcement: This spring will be very busy for me, I plan to finish my master's thesis in the beginning of May, so I shall be writing it 24/7 for the next two months. I do try to update my blog and read other people's blogs but I am not going to take any stress about it. Have a lovely March, and thank you for reading!


  1. You sound so busy! Good luck with the thesis!

    I have always preferred the elegant and romantically tragic Gothic to the grotesque but I am sure it will be interesting!

    1. Than you! :) In the book of Mäyrä there is a good section about the (romantic) Gothic novel and its traditions.

  2. No joke, I'm working on a story on demon possessions that sounds exactly like what the Ancient Greeks believed. Sounds like some literature I should read. Your thesis sounds awesome. Good luck working on it. I'm sure you'll do well.

    1. That's amazing! Are you writing fiction or non-fiction? I imagine the historical research and the observations about pop culture possessions in Mäyrä's thesis might be useful to you! :D

    2. Fiction :) sure does sound useful