[Shape-shifting] suggests, terrifyingly, that the boundaries of natural form are insecure, that it is somehow possible for a self to slip out of the protective clothing that declares its identity and become trapped in a shape that misidentifies and misrepresents it.
(Deformed Discourse, David Williams, 1999)
quoted in Evolution of the Werewolf Archetype from Ovid to J.K Rowling - Dissertation, Brent A. Stypeczynski
The term teratology stems from the Greek τέρας teras (genitive τέρατος teratos), meaning "monster" or "marvel", and λόγος logos, meaning "the word" or, more loosely, "the study of".
As early as the 17th century, teratology referred to a discourse on prodigies and marvels of anything so extraordinary as to seem abnormal. In the 19th century it acquired a meaning more closely related to biological deformities, mostly in the field of botany.
Deformed Discourse, David Williams
...Concepts such as paradox, negation, contrariety, nonlimitation, and related ideas were as attractive and useful in aesthetic speculation as they were in metaphysics, and the basic concept of nonbeing found symbolic representation in the monsters and misshapen fantasies of mediaeval art and poetry. Like the deformations used in the philosophical and theological discourses, aesthetic deformations also propose a fundamental critique of rational discourse.
Such a critique is created through a certain dismantling of rational and logical concepts in which conventional signs of these concepts are deformed in ways intolerable to logic so as to "show forth" (monstrare, as distinguished from repraesentare). Thus the etymological origin of the monster contains withing it its intellectual kinship to heuristic understanding. (p.4)
Monstrous discourse contains within it both resemblant and dissemblant symbolism, but it is neither. It represents nothing...(P.101)
Depicting ‘a most abominable imitator of humanity’:
...[The] folio appeared with the Droeshout engraving. Even in its best state it is such a monstrosity, that I, for one, do not believe it had any trustworthy exemplar.Those who have, as I have, examined the engraved portraits prefixed to the various collective editions of the time, will not be greatly astonished at the pretence of attaching such an abomination as the Droeshout head to the folio editions of Shakespeare -- Clement Mansfield Ingleby, Shakespeare, the Man and the Book
Shakespeare and the Courtly Aesthetic
First, then, advance
My drowsy Servant, stupide Ignorance,
Known by thy scaly versture. Jonson - Masque of Queenes
Ignorance leads in the figures of Suspicion, Credulity, Falsehood, Murmur, (i.e. rebellion), Malice, Impudence, Slander, Execration, Bitterness, Rage, and Mischief. Jonson thus explains his intentions:
In the chaining of these vices, I make, as if one linke produc'd another,, and the Dame were borne out of them all...Nor will it appear much violenc'd, if their series be considered, when the opposition to all vertue begins out of Ignorance. That Ignorance begets Suspicion (for Knowledge is ever open, & charitable); That Suspicion credulity...Out of this Credulity springs Falshood, which begetts Murmure; and that Murmure presently growes Malice, which begetts impudence; That Impudence slander; That Slander execration; Execration bitternesse; Bitternesse fury; and Fury Mischeife.
All these vices are embodied in Caliban.
.....It is plausible, as well, to speculated that Caliban int he first performances of The Tempest might have worn a costume of "scaly vesture" like that of Ignorance. The editor of the New Arden Tempest thinks "there should be no fishiness about his appearance", but he adduces no evidence to support his view. I feel there is enough in the play to suggest that Caliban might have worn something of ichthyological aspect:
Schuking went so far as to say Caliban is "really a monster of the sea" because "he has claws, is apparently covered with scales...has arms like fins and exhales a penetrating odor of fish. Herford and Simpson note, in reference to Jonson's "scaly vesture" a passage from Pierio's Hieroglyphica that also reflects on Caliban: "Ignorance. A certain kind of fish endowed with scales and a little fin...the scales of ignorance are a hieroglyphic; these scales can be shaken off and removed with the service and benefit of knowledge. There is also a relevant and telling association of words in Thersites description of Ajax in Troilus and Cressida: "He's grown a very land-fish, languageless, a monster" (3.3.263).
----------His non plebecula gaudet:
Verum equitis quoque jam migravit ab aure voluptas
Omnis, ad incertos oculos, & gaudia vana. Horat.
To the Great Example of H O N O U R and V E R T U E, the most Noble
W I L L I A M
E A R L of P E M B R O K E , L O R D C H A M B E R L A I N, &c.
M Y L O R D,
Suppose a painter wished to couple a horse’s neck with a man’s head,
and to lay feathers of every hue on limbs gathered here and there, so
that a woman, lovely above, foully ended in an ugly fish below; would
you restrain your laughter, my friends, if admitted to a private view?
Believe me…a BOOK will appear uncommonly like that PICTURE, if
impossible figures are wrought into it – like a sick man’s dreams –
with the result that neither head nor foot is ascribed to a single
shape, and unity is lost.
Eikastike and Fantastike Imagination
Gernot Bohme, Demarcation as a Strategy of Exclusion: Philosophers and Sophists
The most notable be the heroic, lyric, tragic, comic, satiric, iambic, elegiac, pastoral, and certain others, some of these being termed according to the matter they deal with, some by the sort of verse they liked best to write in,—for indeed the greatest part of poets have appareled their poetical inventions in that numberous kind of writing which is called verse. Indeed but appareled, verse being but an ornament and no cause to poetry, since there have been many most excellent poets that never versified, and now swarm many versifiers that need never answer to the name of poets. For Xenophon, who did imitate so excellently as to give us effigiem justi imperii—the portraiture of a just empire under the name of Cyrus (as Cicero says of him)—made therein an absolute heroical poem; so did Heliodorus in his sugared invention of that picture of love in Theagenes and Chariclea; and yet both these wrote in prose. Which I speak to show that it is not riming and versing that makes a poet—no more than a long gown makes an advocate, who, though he pleaded in armor, should be an advocate and no soldier—but it is that feigning notable images of virtues, vices, or what else, with that delightful teaching, which must be the right describing note to know a poet by. Although indeed the senate of poets has chosen verse as their fittest raiment, meaning, as in matter they passed all in all, so in manner to go beyond them; not speaking, table-talk fashion, or like men in a dream, words as they chanceably fall from the mouth, but peizing [weighing—ed.] each syllable of each word by just proportion, according to the dignity of the subject.
But if the first heir of my invention prove DEFORMED, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather, and never after ear so barren a land, for fear it will yield me still so BAD a harvest. --Shakespeare
Blackface Folly and Natural Fools:
R Goodwin, ‘Vindiciae Jonsoniae’
...Even so, these Gallants, when they chance to heare
Two Magian Comedies: ‘The Tempest’ and ‘The Alchemist’
If another confrontation between Shakespeare and Jonson is still allowable, then the challenger should be allowed to arm himself with one of his Latin epigraphs. So, on the title-page of Sejanus, the author warns the reader not to look for centaurs or gorgons or harpies; these particular pages will savour of man. The distich is quoted from Martial, an acknowledged kindred spirit of Jonson's, and it seems a curious point of departure for a tragedy, since Martial's epigram (x, iv) had excluded from his life-like pages such monstrous figures as Oedipus and Thyestes. Jonson cut the quotation conveniently short, yet it hints at the limitations that might emerge from a critical comparison of Sejanus or Catiline with Coriolanus or Antony and Cleopatra. For the younger playwright, always more interested in human machinations than in the workings of destiny, tragedy could be reduced to conspiracy. Hence it differed from comedy only to the extent that, in the words of the Prologue to Every Man in His Humour, crimes may differ from follies. That prologue, introducing a revision which shifted the setting from Italy to England, heralds a more realistic drama by condemning the extravagances and ineptitudes of the popular theatre. After casting an invidious glance at such rivals, and appealing for the more judicious laughter of the audience, it concludes by hoping: 'You, that haue so grac'd MONSTERS, may like men'.
Jonson, on Shakespeare
He was (indeed) honest, and of
an open, and free nature: had an excellent
fancy; brave notions, and gentle expressions:
wherein he flowed with that facility, that
sometime it was necessary he should be
STOP'D: sufflaminandus erat; as Augustus said
of Haterius. His wit was in his own power;
would the RULE of it had been so too."
Jonson, Prologue - Every Man in His Humour
|THOUGH need make many poets, and some such|
|As art and nature have not bettered much;|
|Yet ours, for want, hath not so loved the stage|
|As he dare serve the ill customs of the age,|
|Or purchase your delight at such a rate||5|
|As, for it, he himself must justly hate.|
|To make a child, now swaddled, to proceed|
|Man, and then shoot up in one beard and weed|
|Past threescore years; or with three rusty swords,|
|And help of some few foot-and-half-foot words,||10|
|Fight over York and Lancaster’s long jars,|
|And in the tyring-house bring wounds to scars.|
|He rather prays, you will be pleased to see|
|One such to-day, as other plays should be:|
|Where neither chorus wafts you o’er the seas;||15|
|Nor creaking throne comes down, the boys to please;|
|Nor nimble squib is seen, to make afeard|
|The gentlewomen; nor rolled bullet heard|
|To say, it thunders; nor tempestuous drum|
|Rumbles, to tell you when the storm doth come:||20|
|But DEEDS and LANGUAGE such as men do use;|
|And persons such as comedy would choose,|
|When she would show an image of the times,|
|And sport with human follies, not with crimes.|
The Fortunes of the Courtier
What made the traditional critique of courts particularly sharp in the mid-sixteenth century was its association with anti-Italian sentiments, and Italophobia in reaction to the Italophilia associated with the Renaissance, a backlash against what the critics called the 'aping' of foreign ways. This was a very different discussion of imitation from the literary debate discussed in an earlier chapter. Thus a Frenchman denounced 'les singeries des Italiens', while an Englishman vilified 'The English Ape, the Italian Imitation, the Footsteps of France'.
This anti-Italian backlash seems to be linked to the rise of the culture of sincerity described a few pages back, with the *northern Europeans rejecting the culture of performance they associated with the south*. In France, the poet Pierre Gringore said in the early sixteenth century that 'there is nothing worse that an Italianized Frenchman. In Germany at much the same time, the humanist Jacob Wimpheling issued the warning 'Beware of a bald red-headed man and an Italianized German.' , as if the latter too was a contradiction in terms. Alternatively, 'An Italianized German is a devil incarnate'. It was an adaption of this last version, 'Inglese italianato e diavolo incarnate', which became proverbial in Elizabethan England (it was quoted by Roger Ascham in the 1560's, by John Lyly in 1580 and by Robert Greene in 1591)
According to one English writer, William Rankins, whose stereotypes were close to those of Guilpin, Italy was full of 'Machavillians' who 'undermine by policy, practice covertly, cloak cunningly.' Again, Greene, in his Quip for an UPSTART Courtier (directed against Gabriel Harvey, and perhaps, via Harvey, at Castiglione), described Italy as the home of 'a multitude of abominable vices', including 'vainglory, self-love, sodomy and strange poisonings'. This was the world of John Webster's Duchess of Malfi and other revenge tragedies which were often set in Italy and generally ended with a heap of corpses on the stage.
The vices of Italy, as foreigners perceived them, were often associated with courts in particular. Thus the Calvinist printer Henri Estienne, denouncing what he called the 'italianization' of the French language, put the blame on the court, the courtiers and their 'courtisanismes'. Ascham went so far as to describe Italy as 'Circe's court', (note - See Milton's _Comus_ - NLD) where the companions of Odysseus were turned into swine. The association of courts with Italy was underlined by the visibility of Italian princesses abroad, notably Bona Sforza, wife of Zygmunt I of Poland, and Catherine de' Medici, wife of Henry II of France. After the massacre of French Protestants in 1572, for which they held Catherine to be responsible, the association between Catholicism, Italy, courts and murder seemed self- evident. (Chapter 6, pp. 106 - 114)
Jonson - Poetaster
To the Reader
Author. But, they that have incens'd me, can in Soul
Acquit me of that guilt. *They know, I dare
To spurn, or bafful 'em; or squirt their Eyes
With Ink, or Urine: or I could do worse,
Arm'd with Archilochus fury, write Iambicks,
Should make the desperate lashers hang themselves;
Rhime 'em to Death, as they do Irish Rats
In drumming Tunes. Or, living, I could STAMP
Their FOREHEADS with those deep, and PUBLICK BRAND,
That the whole company of Barber-Surgeons
Should not take off, with all their Art, and Plaisters.
And these my Prints should last, still to be read
In their pale Fronts*: when, what they write 'gainst me,
Shall, like a FIGURE drawn in Water, fleet,
And the poor wretched Papers be imploy'd
To clothe Tabacco, or some cheaper Drug.
This I could do, and make them infamous.
But, to what end? when their own DEEDS have MARK'd 'em
Title: Naumachia, or Hollands sea-fight Date: 1622
A Caveat to his Muse
To have a fame among 'em: New come forth:
And thinke your chiefe felicity is marr'd
If you be not perch't up in Paules Church-yard
Where men a farre may know you in a trice,
By some new-fangled, brasse-cut Frontispice.
Such book's indeed as now-dayes can passé
Had need to have their FACES made of brasse.(note - see Droeshout engraving)
To stay at home among the residue
Of better sisters: where my dearest Will, (my note - Will Browne?)
And other friends would praise and love thee still:
Him and my other harts-halfes I account
Intire assemblies, and thinke they surmount
A Globe of ADDLE Gallants: I averre
One judging Plato worth a Theater.
(In the difference of wits, note 10)
Not. 10.--It cannot but come to pass that these men who commonly
seek to do more than enough may sometimes happen on something that
is good and great; but very seldom: and when it comes it doth not
recompense the rest of their ill. For their jests, and their
sentences (which they only and ambitiously seek for) stick out, and
are more eminent, because all is sordid and vile about them; as
lights are more discerned in a thick darkness than a faint shadow.
Now, because they speak all they can (however unfitly), they are
thought to have the greater copy; where the learned use ever
election and a mean, they look back to what they intended at first,
and *make all an even and proportioned body*.
The true artificer will
not run away from NATURE as he were AFRAID of her, or depart from
life and the likeness of truth, but speak to the capacity of his
hearers. And though his language differ from the vulgar somewhat,
it shall not fly from all humanity, with the Tamerlanes and Tamer-
chains of the late age, which had nothing in them but the scenical
strutting and furious vociferation to warrant them to the ignorant
gapers. He knows it is his only art so to carry it, as none but
artificers perceive it. In the meantime, perhaps, he is called
barren, dull, lean, a poor writer, or by what contumelious word can
come in their cheeks, by these men who, without labour, judgment,
knowledge, or almost sense, are received or preferred before him.
He gratulates them and their fortune. Another age, or juster men,
will acknowledge the virtues of his studies, his wisdom in dividing,
his subtlety in arguing, with what strength he doth inspire his
readers, with what sweetness he strokes them; in inveighing, what
sharpness; in jest, what urbanity he uses; how he doth reign in
men's affections; how invade and break in upon them, *and makes their
minds like the thing he writes*. Then in his elocution to behold
what word is proper, which hath ornaments, which height, what is
beautifully translated, where figures are fit, which gentle, which
strong, to show the composition manly; and how he hath avoided
faint, obscure, obscene, sordid, humble, improper, or effeminate
phrase; which is not only praised of the most, but commended (which
is worse), especially for that it is naught.
Harvey to Spenser, commenting on the 'English Poet' of Speculum Tuscanismi (Edward de Vere):
Tell me, in good sooth, doth it not too euidently appeare that this English Poet [Deformed Oxford of Speculum Tuscanismi] wanted but A GOOD PATTERNE before his eyes, as it might be some delicate and choyce elegant Poesie of good M. SIDNEY or M. DYERS (ouer very CASTOR and POLLUX for such and many greater matters) when this trimme geere was in hatching: Much like some Gentlewoomen I coulde name in England, who by all Phisick and Physiognomie too might as well haue brought forth all GOODLY FAIRE CHILDREN, as they haue now some YLFAVOURED and *DEFORMED*, had they, at the tyme of their conception, had in sight the amiable and gallant beautifull Pictures of ADONIS, CUPIDO, GANYMEDES, or the like, which no doubt would haue wrought such deepe impression in their fantasies and imaginations, as their children, and perhappes their Childrens children too, myght haue thanked them for as long as they shall haue Tongues in their heades.
and makes their minds like the thing he writes -- Jonson
Prefixed to "Nennio, or A Treatise of Nobility"
A discourse whether a noble man by birth or a gentleman by desert is greater in nobilitie, At London: Printed by Peter Short, and are to be solde [by J. Flasket} in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the blacke Beare, 1600
Whoso wil seeke, by right deserts, t'attaine,
Unto the type of true nobility;
And not by painted shewes, and titles vaine,
Derived farre from famous auncestrie:
*Behold them both in their right visnomy
Here truly pourtray'd, as they ought to be*,
And striving both for termes of dignitie,
To be advanced highest in degree.
And, when thou doost with equall insight see
The ods twixt both, of both the deem aright,
And chuse the better of them both to thee:
But thanks to him, that it deserves, behight;
To Nenna first, that first this worke created,
And next to Jones, that truely it translated.
Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed,
When not to be receives reproach of being;
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed
Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing:
For why should others' false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts, my deeds must not be shown;
Unless this general evil they maintain,
All men are bad and in their badness reign.
Monster Culture (Seven Theses)
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
The Monster is the Harbinger of Category Crisis
The monster always escapes because it refuses easy categorization.[...] This refusal to participate in the classificatory "order of things" is true of monsters generally: they are disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration. And so the monster is dangerous, a form suspended between forms that threatens to smash distinctions.
Because of its ontological liminality, the monster [note - and monstrous text - NLD] notoriously appears at times of crisis as a kind of third term that problematizes the clash of extremes - as that which questions binary thinking and introduces a crisis. This power to evade and to undermine has coursed through the monster's blood from classical times, when despite all the attempts of Aristotle (and later Pliny, Augustine, and Isidore) to incorporate the monstrous races into a coherent epistemological system, the monster always escaped to return to its habitations at the margins of the world (a purely conceptual locus rather than a geographic one). Classical "wonder books" radically undermine the Aristotelian taxonomic system, for by refusing an easy compartmentalization of their monstrous contents, they demand a radical rethinking of boundary and normality. The too-precise laws of nature as set forth by science are gleefully violated in the freakish compilation of the monster's body. A mixed category, the monster resists any classification built on hierarchy or a merely binary opposition, demanding instead a "system" allowing polyphony, mixed response (difference in sameness, repulsion in attraction), and resistance to integration - allowing what Hogle has called with a wonderful pun "a deeper play of differences, a nonbinary polymorphism at the 'base' of human nature.
Shakespeare (Nabokov, 1924)
Amid grandees of times Elizabethan
you shimmered too, you followed sumptuous custom;
the circle of ruff, the silv’ry satin that
encased your thigh, the wedgelike beard – in all of this
you were like other men… Thus was enfolded
your godlike thunder in a succinct cape.
Haughty, aloof from theatre’s alarums,
you easily, regretlessly relinquished
the laurels twinning into a dry wreath,
concealing for all time your. monstrous genius
beneath a mask; and yet, your phantasm’s echoes
still vibrate for us; your Venetian Moor,
his anguish; Falstaff’s visage, like an udder
with pasted-on mustache; the raging Lear..
You are among us, you’re alive; your name, though,
your image, too – deceiving, thus, the world
you have submerged in your beloved Lethe.
It’s true, of course, a usurer had grown
accustomed, for a sum, to sign your work
(that Shakespeare – Will – who played the Ghost in Hamlet,
who lives in pubs, and died before he could
digest in full his portion of a boar’s head)…
The frigate breathed, your country you were leaving,
To Italy you went. A female voice
called singsong through the iron’s pattern
called to her balcony the tall inglesse,
grown languid from the lemon-tinted moon
and Verona’s streets. My inclination
is to imagine, possibly, the droll
and kind creator of Don Quixote
exchanging with you a few casual words
while waiting for fresh horses – and the evening
was surely blue. The well behind the tavern
contained a pail’s pure tinkling sound… Reply
whom did you love? Reveal yourself – whose memoirs
refer to you in passing? Look what numbers
of lowly, worthless souls have left their trace,
what countless names Brantome has for the asking!
Reveal yourself, god of iambic thunder,
you hundred-mouthed, unthinkably great bard!
No! At the destined hour, when you felt banished
by God from your existence, you recalled
those secret manuscripts, fully aware
that your supremacy would rest unblemished
by public rumor’s unashamed brand,
that ever, midst the shifting dust of ages,
faceless you’d stay, like immortality
itself – then vanished in the distance, smiling.
Copyright 1979 Vladimir Nabokov Estate
English version copyright 1988 Dmitri Nabokov
...With a host of furious fancies
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wide world's end:
Methinks it is no journey.
Yet will I sing, Any food, any feeding,
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.