Cover image for Monsters : evil beings, mythical beasts, and all manner of imaginary terrors
Monsters : evil beings, mythical beasts, and all manner of imaginary terrors
Gilmore, David D., 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xi, 210 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Why study monsters? -- How to approach monsters -- Monsters in the west, I: the ancient world -- Monsters in the west, II: the Christian era -- Windigo: monster of the north -- An American monstruary -- The ogres of Asia -- Japan and the Pacific islands -- Ritual monsters -- Our monsters, ourselves.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GR825 .G55 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"The human mind needs monsters. In every culture and in every epoch of human history, from ancient Egypt to modern Hollywood, imaginary beings have haunted dreams and fantasies, provoking in young and old shivers of delight, thrills of terror, and endless fascination. All known folklores brim with visions of looming and ferocious monsters, often in the role as adversaries to great heroes. But while heroes have been closely studied by mythologists, monsters have been neglected, even though they are equally important as pan-human symbols and reveal similar insights into ways the mind works. In Monsters: Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors, anthropologist David D. Gilmore explores what human traits monsters represent and why they are so ubiquitous in people's imaginations and share so many features across different cultures."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Decades ago, Georges Bataille wrote that people need the strange to escape strictures of culture and attain freedom of expression. Anthropologist Gilmore (SUNY, Stony Brook) echoes Bataille in asserting that "the mind needs monsters" as "sources of identification and awe as well as of horror." Gilmore offers a hybrid text surveying theoretical positions but concentrating on popular storytelling. Neither side is altogether satisfying, for references to ritual theorists like Mary Douglas and Victor Turner are overridden by pop Freudian psychology and a bow to Joseph Campbell's mythologies, while engaging accounts of "monsters" (with Gilmore at his best describing Native American lore) are trumped by occasional dubious sources (e.g., Rory Nugent's Drums along the Congo: On the Trail of Mokele-Mbembe, the Last Living Dinosaur, 1993) rather than grounded in political economy and other deeper discourses (e.g., Luise White's Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa, 2000). One is left wondering if Gilmore's category "monster" can cut across the ethnographic diversity he marshals when whole religious systems revolve around the knowledge--rather than "imagination"--that things go bump in the night. Still, his engaging book suggests a universal need to extend perceptions of evil far beyond the obvious. Summing Up: Recommended. General and undergraduate collections. A. F. Roberts University of California, Los Angeles

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Why Study Monsters?
2 How to Approach Monsters
3 The West
I The Ancient World
4 The West
II The Christian Era
5 Windigo: Monster of the North
6 An American Monstruary
7 The Ogres of Asia
8 Japan and the Pacific Islands
9 Ritual Monsters
10 Conclusions
Our Monsters