Rethinking the Concept of the Grotesque: Crashaw, Baudelaire, Magritte

How are we to define what is grotesque, in art or literature? Since the Renaissance the term has been used for anything from the fantastic to the monstrous, and been associated with many artistic genres, from the Gothic to the danse macabre. Shun-Liang Chao's new study adopts a rigorous approach by establishing contradictory physicality and the notion of metaphor as two keys to the construction of a clear identity of the grotesque. With this approach, Chao explores the imagery of Richard Crashaw, Charles Baudelaire, and Rene Magritte as individual exemplars of the grotesque in the Baroque, Romantic, and Surrealist ages, in order to suggest a lineage of this curious aesthetic and to cast light on the functions of the visual and of the verbal in evoking it.