Rough Beasts

BookRough Beasts

Rough Beasts

The Monstrous in Irish Fiction, 1800–2000

Liverpool English Texts and Studies, 82


November 13th, 2019

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Monsters and other supernatural malefactors disrupt the human world in distinct ways: werewolves and cunning beasts challenge the philosophical distinction between human and animal; demons offer deceptive pacts to prey upon our delusions of mastery over the world; capricious fairies claim dominion over the landscape and exact disproportionate revenge for our intrusions. When a monster appears, human history must halt until it departs.

Irish history, meanwhile, has been punctured by dramatic ruptures, such as the Great Famine of 1845 to 1849. Monstrous imagery flourishes in these ruptures, so it is hardly surprising that Irish literature boasts a great many rough beasts and ravenous corpses.

In this book, various monsters from Irish literature are considered in different historical contexts, to illustrate the role of horror and monstrosity in Ireland’s history and culture. In both English- and Irish-language texts, from the Act of Union to the death of the Celtic Tiger, hordes of night-creatures arise in times of crisis, embodying chaos and absurdity. Building upon the critical framework established in Irish Science Fiction (2014), this study looks at the specific ways in which ghosts, malevolent magicians, shape-shifters, cryptids and the corporeal undead oppose human agency by ‘breaking history’.

‘What is most impressive about this book is the sheer range of theoretical and fictional material with which it engages. [….] It is a very welcome addition to the growing scholarship on Irish horror fiction.’
Jarlath Killeen, Books Ireland Magazine

Author Information

Jack Fennell is a writer, translator and researcher based in Limerick, Ireland.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
1. Introduction: In Defence of Fear7
2. We Dare Not Go A-Hunting: Faires, Deep Time, and the Irish Weird29
3. Harbingers of Hunger: Famine, Cannibalism, and Hunger-Demons56
4. From Lore to Law: Malevolent Magic and Spiritual Warfare81
5. Ghosts, Narrative, and Noumenal Reality105
6. Just Sign Here: Faustian Pacts, Demons, and Chaos135
7. The Undead Generations: Zombies, Vampires, and the Corporeal Undead164
8. Breeding Breaks Out: Shape-Shifters, Cryptids, and Cunning Animals192
9. Haunted Spaces and Monstrous Lairs217
10. Conclusions242