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After Mussolini fell, in , a temporary Italian government declared an armistice with the Allied forces. Following the armistice the Nazis occupied Northern Italy and reinstated Mussolini as a puppet governor of the fascist Republic of Sal. A civil war ensued in occupied Italy when anti-fascist forces began guerrilla-type warfare and sabotage against the Nazi-fascists. Dissidents were arrested in mass, tortured and sent to concentration camps in Poland and Germany.

Many were simply executed in the streets, left hanging from bridges and houses, with signs warning against rebellion1. Whenever a German was killed, ten Italian civilians would be publicly executed. In some areas of Piedmont not far from Villarbasse, entire villages were exterminated in Nazi retaliation2.

On and right after liberation day- the 25 April fascist political figures were dragged into the streets, beaten and lynched. Giuseppe Solaro, the commissar of the Republican Fascist Party in Turin was hanged twice, his body mutilated and exposed on a truck along the streets of Turin where it was met by cheering crowds; it was then thrown into the Po river and shot at for sport in a competition from the Isabella Bridge.

It is therefore somewhat surprising that the Villarbasse crime, for all its brutality and violence, managed nevertheless to incite such horror. Or is it? Perhaps considering the crime in light of traditional notions of the monster and the cathartic purposes that. Let us now look at our monsters. They were illiterate and had led a life of petty crime, wandering regularly between Northern and Southern Italy. They qualified as monsters in three ways: 1 They showed no respect for the dead bodies of their victims 2 They seemed to express no regret after the fact, and thus exacerbated the public outcry against them 3 They were outsiders.

I will now briefly develop these three points to provide a further picture of the Villarbasse case and the meanings of its resolution, while also pointing to more general notions of the monstrous. A monster could be defined as a being that mostly lives outside of human communities that kills and doesnt have respect for the human body after it is dead. Katherine Verdery in her book The Political Lives of Dead Bodies4, points out that all human communities have ideas and practices concerning what constitutes a good death, how dead people should be treated and what will happen if they are not properly cared for.

Mythological monsters might consume their victims, eating them and leaving their bones on the floor of their caves; Human monsters will disfigure the bodies of the dead and, as in the Villarbasse case, try to hide their deed by improperly burying them. It is almost a clich of the serial killer to leave body parts improperly buried in suitcases, refrigerators and floorboards.

The killers of Villarbasse were seen as monsters not so much for the fact that they killed, but for the way had clobbered the bodies of their victims, disfigured them and left them hanging horridly in the well. In their complete disregard for the human body, they marked themselves as outside of the human community. The second point, which marked the Villarbasse killers as monsters was their lack of guilt for what they had done, seen as particularly disturbing since they had killed unarmed men and women, a young boy and an old lady. During their trial they bragged about their crime and used the verb abbattere to put down rather than uccidere to kill when describing how they had killed their victims.

This linguistic detail was used to point out how the killers didnt really consider their victims human, and how they cold-bloodedly put them down like animals. One detail really struck the jury: after the crime, the killers had feasted on salami, which they stole from the farm.

Renzo Rossotti recalls the detail of them eating salami like hungry beasts. They hands stained by blood, all that blood5. Literary critic Joseph Andriano has suggested. The image of the killers devouring salami after the murders was not just a trivial detail but contributed to their depiction as monsters. They had cold bloodedly put down their victims with sticks; they had the earth consume them by burying them alive in the dark mouth of the well where they died, and they then went on to gorge themselves on the bloody meat of dead pigs.

The final sentence of the judge was Finally, but perhaps most importantly, a key factor, which contributed to the Villarbasse killers being executed as monsters was their otherness. One of the killers, Puleo, even yelled out at the end of the trial: They are killing us because we are Sicilian! Long before the bodies had been found and before an incriminating jacket had pointed to Palermo, locals were sure that those who had taken away the people from the farm had to have come from outside. They continually tried to incriminate a man called Carmelo, a migrant worker from Calabria, who lived near Villarbasse at harvest time.

Though completely innocent, Carmelo was almost lynched by an angry mob. Those who were found guilty in the end also lived a life at the periphery of society, moving up and down the Italian peninsula, so that one of the killers was nicknamed u turista-the tourist. In his book on Monsters David Gilmore identifies monsters as outsiders. He writes: In every cultural tradition, monsters are said to live in borderline places, inhabiting an outside dimension that is apart from, but parallel to and intersecting the human community.

As Katherine Verdery convincingly shows in her discussion of Serbian and Croat reburials in the late s9, reburial is often a deeply political act in which new boundaries between the us of the wronged victims get counter posed to the them of the enemy-other. Key to the identification of the murderers of Villarbasse as monsters before the actual culprits were found was the discovery of the dead bodies in the well, their filmed and sensationalized extraction from the cold dark place they died in, and their reburial. This reburial, produced outrage in the newly defined community, whose boundaries were threatened by a force that showed no respect for the dead, no regret or shame for its deeds, and must have been clearly foreign and other.

As mentioned above, the spotting of monsters necessarily also results in defining them as outside of human communities, since, by definition, their monstrosity is based on their lack of humanity. The finger pointing of a monster therefore also defines the borders of human community, and reasserts the humanity of those whose outrage is triggered by the monstrous deeds they have witnessed. Wilfrida Ann Mully10 suggests that monsters are: phantastic images which occur to individuals by which the self experiences itself as lacking humanity, as unnaturally evil, stupid, or ill.

I realize that it is highly problematic to extend this psychoanalytic interpretation that Mully applies to individual patients, onto a society as a whole, or onto a region. Perhaps the Villarbasse killers would have been seen as monsters regardless of the time or place in which they committed their crimes.

It does seem plausible, however, to ascribe some level of unconscious behavior to groups, particularly at times of great collective trauma such as the period immediately following a war of the extent and brutality of the Second World War. If we are to accept this view, however problematic, the spotting and execution of the Villarbasse monsters can be seen as deeply cathartic for the region. This catharsis depends on the projection of the communitys evil self, lack of humanity and illness, onto the monsters. To further this point I will bring to your attention two filmed events, which provoked diametrically opposite responses in audiences around the North of Italy.

The first is the filmed extraction of the swollen and disfigured Villarbasse bodies emerging upside down from the well, shown in a film made by the American occupying forces in the early days of the enquiry into the killings, which caused great horror and outrage. The other is the filmed desecration of the bodies of Mussolini11 and his lover Claretta Petacci shown just months before hanging from a gas station post in Piazzale Loreto, in Milan, which marked the symbolic end of the war and was, with some notable exceptions, received with jubilance.

An angry crowd had pushed past resistance security forces and maimed and disfigured the dead bodies of the dictator and his lover, kicking in their faces. These two disfigurements and the brutal violence and lack of humanity that goes with the desecration of bodies do not, however, figure in the same symbolic plane. Remarkably, through the reburial of the wronged Villarbasse victims, a peaceful farmstead exterminated in the midst of ordinary life, those who may have accepted Mussolinis disfigurement at the end of the war were restored their humanity by their.

As David Gilmore writes, in his book on Monsters The power of monsters is their ability to fuse opposites, to merge contraries, to subvert rules, to overthrow cognitive barriers, moral distinctions and ontological categories.

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Monsters overcome the barrier of time itself. Uniting past and present, demonic and divine, guilt and conscience, predator and prey, parent and child, self and alien, our monsters are our innermost selves. To slay the monsters was also a way of exorcising the demons of the war still hiding in ordinary life.

When the maimed bodies were pulled out of the well, upside down, their faces swollen and marked by the blows they received before dying, the specters of the war and its many victims were bound to make themselves heard in public conscience. To continue with David Gilmores analysis of monsters: For most western observers the monster is a metaphor for all that must be repudiated by the human spirit. It embodies the existential threat to social life, the chaos, atavism, and negativism that symbolize destructiveness and all other obstacles to order and progress, all that which defeats, destroys, draws back, undermines, subverts the human project.

This evil was at once foreign and we can see a kind of overlap between the foreignness of the Sicilian monsters and the Nazis and from within the evil of fascist participation, of civil war, and implied in the brutality of the immediate post-war months. We were coming out of the ruins, especially the moral ruins, of the war, and we were still trembling.

Such an enormous crime That sentence was a way of changing, of turning a page. With good peace to those dead, for the hope of those who were growing, and entering into life. Yet this monster slaying occurs while- and perhaps because- the community feels under threat by other unknown forces. New changes, new strangers are thought to loom upon it. Reality remains unsettled and frightening as ghosts and demons continue to make themselves felt from a darkness deeper than the well at Villarbasse.

Una guida per la memoria Turin: Istituto Piemontese per la storia della resistenza e della societ contemporanea, , ; see also the website comment by his daughter Franca Solaro Giuseppe Solaro, ultimo federale di Torino. Cinquantenario della tragica morte. Il ricordo di Franca, LUltima Crociata, no. For practical reasons this paper will only discuss his dead body. Bibliography Andriano, Joseph. Westport Conn. Gilmore, David. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, Jackson, Rosemary.

Fantasy-The Literature of Subversion. London: Methuen, Lamb, Richard. War in Italy A Brutal Story. London: Murray, Rossotti, Renzo. Villarbasse Cascina Fatale. Turin: Editrice Il Punto, Solaro, Franca. Giuseppe Solaro, ultimo federale di Torino. Il ricordo di Franca. LUltima Crociata. Una guida per la memoria. Turin: Istituto Piemontese per la storia della resistenza e della societ contemporanea, Verdery, Katherine.

The Political Lives of Dead Bodies. Reburial and Postsocialist Change. New York: Columbia University Press, Abstract When the literary critics talk about Latin America , usually they focus the attention on a limited group of books. This group is usually included in an ambiguous category called Magical Realism.

This has produced horrible generalizations. In fact, many literature theoreticians suppose that any supernatural event in a plot written by a Latin American author is Magical Realism without doubt. They forget that there already exist better ways to approach a novel or a story. There are many monsters in the Literature of Latin America. It is possible to find some of them in the pre-Columbian oral traditions or in the legends during the Spanish domination or even in the Literature for children and teenagers.

And monsters also exist in the plots of the Contemporary Literature for adults. In Ecuador there is a pioneering book that appeared in the 90's: Profundo en la Galaxia, by Santiago Pez. In spite of the fact that it got excellent critics, the book is almost unknown abroad. Monsters of different types appear in Pezs stories, which are a strange mix between the science of the West and the Andean tradition. For the first time in Ecuadorian Contemporary Literature it is possible to find a monster from the afroEcuadorian oral tradition. It is a unique creature: it seems to generate a bizarre psychological fear.

At the same time, it seems to incarnate prejudices and ignorance. I am going to evaluate the monsters in Ecuadorian Literature, with special attention to the stories of Santiago Pez and Adalberto Ortiz. I would like to prove with my dissertation that in the Andean countries it is possible to write Fantastic Literature of a high level that it is not necessarily Magical Realism. Keywords Myth, science, prejudice, Ecuador, African creatures, magical realism When the literary critics in general talk about Latin America, they often focus their attention on a limited number of books.

In fact, many theoreticians suppose that any supernatural event in a plot written by a Latin American author is Magical Realism without doubt. They forget that there already exist better ways to approach a novel or a story with certain supernatural traits.


In Ecuador there is a pioneering book: Profundo en la galaxia by Santiago Pez. In spite of the fact that it got excellent reviews, the book is almost unknown abroad. I am going to focus on one specific plot: Yachak. Another text that deserves special attention is La entundada , by the Ecuadorian Adalberto Ortiz.

Maybe for the first time in Ecuadorian Contemporary Literature it is possible to find a monster from the afro-Ecuadorian oral tradition. And finally, I would like to show that in the Andean countries it is possible to write Fantastic Literature that it is not necessarily Magical Realism. But what is authentically the Magical Realism? The response is difficult. For the present study we use the categories proposed by Enrique Anderson Imbert in the book The Magical Realism and other essays At the same time, Introduccin a la Literatura Fantstica , by Tzvetan Todorov, is extremely helpful for an approach to the area of Fantastic Literature.

Yachak, a story of monsters in continual mutation. The term yachak designates a wise person of the Andes. A yachak consults nature, sees partially the future, diagnoses with the help of cuyes guinea pigs and cure illnesses. Nowadays he is still an essential authority inside the Andean communities. There is an equivalent category: the shaman. The only difference is that the shaman is the wizard of the jungle. In this short story, the old yachak Jos Snchez wakes up one night because he feels a sickness in Pachamama the Mother Earth.

The nature shows strange symptoms. His son, Lluntu, is a beginner of yachak and sleeps in the same hut. Both decide to go to the waterfall of Peguche to ask the stones for advice.

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A parallel story is narrated: a space ship out of control looks for a planet to land. The monsters the crew members of the ship are the TSKZZ, from the planet of Orkyyun: [] they were creatures in continual mutation. The voice was going out from the feet when his brain was located in one of his eight tubular extremities, or from the green bulbous body, when his mind was resting in it. Their space ships, for example, are a mixture of alive creatures and mechanical gadgets. Everything is accuracy and harmony on their planet. But there is something that produces a complete chaos in the society: the fear.

When the inhabitants of Orkyyun are dominated by fear, everything is lost. In case of this story, the space ship is looking for a place to land. There is fear in its occupants and fear in the own ship. In fact, when the word fear is mentioned in the story, it appears in capital letters. The inhabitants of the planet of Orkyyun know that they are going to die.

Meanwhile, the old Jos Snchez starts his ritual and asks for the illness of Pachamama. The nature answers with signs. Lluntu, the son, prefers not to go because at night there is a mal aire a. After the insistence of the father, Lluntu leaves. The old yachak, close to the waterfall of Peguche, protects his son, who finally obtains the stone and purifies it blowing spirit alcohol over it.

Lluntu manages to return with the brilliant stone to his father. The yachak examines the stone and finds tiny creatures in its interior: they are the inhabitants of Orkyyun. The space ship, which has the size of a stone, has landed on the ground in Quebrada Negra. The crew and the ship are nearly dead and only the pilot has not fainted yet.

We have infected your world. The pilot of the ship understands part of the question and answers that they come from the sky, in a way. Nevertheless, because the intruders bring illness, the yachak decides to call them demons. The yachak order them not to damage with their illness Pachamama and they are required to leave, but the pilot answers that this is impossible, that they are terribly sick: - Who are you?

And you? A very common reason to visit a yachak and healers in the Andean countries is to ask for a cure to mal del espanto the disease of panic. It is an illness with its own symptoms: fever, diarrhea, vomits According to popular beliefs, the illness can be caused by many factors: a furious dog that tries to attack, some unfortunate news, a fall The patient remains terrified after any of these experiences. A yachak treats the illness with prayers, secret words, and blowing alcohol over the infected person.

Some healers use also a red tie or a strip to diagnose the illness. He realizes the importance of his task and executes the ritual on the aliens as if they were human beings, with prayers in Quechuan he begs the indigenous gods and the Christian God and saints and finishes by giving a shower of spirit over his patients. At the end of the rite, the small ship has recovered its vitality, its occupants are healthy again, and together they immediately leave the Earth.

So the first monster we meet comes from the alien's class. We have said that the monsters of Orkyyun are in continual mutation and that their voices can come out of any part of their body. At the same time, the history itself shows many examples of mutation, change and adjustment. When the yachak begins his ritual and ask Pachamama for its illness, what does he use during the ceremony? First, there are elements linked to the nature: obsidians, quartzes, rocks of rivers, etc.

Second, there are western elements: a bayonet from the Independence War against Spain beginnings of the XIX century , saints stamps, crucifixes, photographies, among others There are elements of two different ways of thinking. They are a miscellany that complements itself perfectly in the mind of the yachak. It is a sample of crossbreed, and the yachak prays both to the Christian God and to the deities of his forefathers. It seems to be impossible to find examples of pure characters or situations in the story. In the same way as the yachak is a product of a crossbreeding, the aliens show a complex facet of adjustment.

Their machines are not pure metal. The people of Orkkyun, who come from such an advanced planet, still allow themselves to be dominated by a feeling as basic as fear. Besides, there is a paradox: the monsters with the tubular extremities do not provoke fear. It is strange. Maybe because the yachak knows that his work potentially will lead him to speak with demons. There is also the explanation of the size: if the monster is bigger, the fear increases too. In any case, these monsters are not too original aliens in other plots the form of aliens has been characterized as a disparate mass , though they are terribly attractive for their roll in the story.

Because the inhabitants of Orkkyun are monsters, they should provoke a compulsory consequence: the appearance of the fear. The monsters and fear are an entity in the plots. But in contrast to the traditional stories, in this one the monsters tiny and in the process of dying are also under the effects of the terror. The fear is the sensation which all the characters have to fight against: Jos Snchez, and the fear of the spirits at the waterfall of.

In the plot the fear is the axis, but dominates the monsters in addition. The monsters bring the terror, but at the same time they experience it. The confusion between aliens and demons becomes remarkable too. For the yachak Jos Snchez, the word extraterrestrial does not mean anything. He defines the inhabitants of the planet Orkkyun by way of elimination: the intruders neither are humans, nor animals, plants, nor part of the tangible nature.

So they are spirits. But since they bring illness, they cannot be good spirits. They are demons. This sort of logic works perfectly.

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At the same time, all that is strange could become a monster: an alien, a malignant spirit, a deformed face We are scared of abnormality. Nobody speaks about the normal things, which are tacit. It is the rupture of normality that also attracts us. This becomes evident in La entundada. It is a child his name does not appear in the plot who lives with a female cousin just a few years older , his uncle and his mother.

The two children play together. One day, Numancia the female cousin , who is becoming a teenager, is kidnapped by the Tunda. But, what is a Tunda? The narrator tries to explain us: The Tunda is an ignominious beast The Tunda is a ghost The Tunda is the Patica Immediately, a group is organized to go to the jungle and rescue the girl. They take dogs, provisions, weapons and clothes. The expedition walks close to the river. Nobody has seen either the Tunda or Numancia. The black women listen terrified to the details of the new apparition of the Tunda and beg their own children for prudence and care.

More people join in the crusade, but although they check caves and travel a lot of time through the forest, they do not find any track. A few months later, when the search has stopped, Numancia arrives suddenly at the family house. It is night time. The cousin and his mother are sleeping in a room next to the room of Numancias father.

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Numancia embraces her aunt. The narrator notices that the stomach of his cousin was. Alerted by a sound, the father of Numancia appears. He looks into the eyes of his daughter with hardness. This behavior shocks the little narrator. She did not answer, but she lowered the head. No one was glad to see Numancia again [] I embraced her with happiness and asked: - Is it true that the Tunda took you? She complied with her head. She denied with her head His father continued looking at her fiercely and nastily [] He shouted her with terrible voice: -You are like your mother!

Go back to your disgusting Tunda! The Tunda is a mythical being from the African Ecuadorian culture. In addition to different indigenous groups, Ecuador has also a community of a black population. They are descendants of slaves, who came to the country during the Spanish domination. Black people preserve their customs, music, dances and African traditions, but with certain changes. The Tunda, for example, seems to come from a tradition of the Bantu tribe a tribe in Africa and of a mythical personage of this culture: the quimbungo. The goddess Oshun is also mentioned in La entundada.

In Esmeraldas, the province in Ecuador where most of the black people live, everyone has heard about the Tunda. It is said that the Tunda can take any form that it likes and keep its victims in the jungle. It seems also that the Tunda prefers to adopt the appearance of a woman. It is possible to recognize the monster because one of its feet is very small and the other one is a paw of stick in the shape of a cross.

When a woman is kidnapped, she can become a concubine of the monster. Some says that the Tunda feeds its hostages with shrimps the witness-narrator of the story supposes it. There are many elements related to monsters and their consequences: the Tunda, the fear of the unknown, the fear of the loss of a dear person, the endless walk through a place full of dangers like the jungle, the mentions to the Patica the devil , the Cuco a sort of monster , etc.

But the elements related to innocence are also important. Numancia is a girl who plays with her cousin until she was not interested anymore in our games and that made me very sad. Step by step she becomes a beautiful teenager. Numancia was illuminated by a pretty and rare color of toffee and she was already tall enough. But what happens to Numancia does not happen to her little cousin. The narrator of the history is full of tenderness and innocence.

He imagines himself talking to the owls, to the parrots, to the plants, until the adults admonish: -Mad boy - they said to me - the plants do not talk. Why has Numancia to leave the house? When she returns she has an inflated stomach the narrator supposes it is because the shrimps that the Tunda forced her to eat. But there is a process in which Numancia is not a child anymore.

Maybe Numancia is pregnant now. One possibility is that she has been a concubine of the monster. But I have not found anything in literature saying that a concubine of the Tunda could become pregnant. On the other hand, she is not entundada stupefied by the charm of the Tunda. It is true that she does not answer any question she just moves the head but it seems that the shame is the cause of her silence once she even lowers her head, in a very explicit gesture.

She insists to her cousin on the version of the Tunda, because he cannot understand the world of adults. Anyway, she says in addition that the monster did not treat her badly. If it did not treat her badly, and Numancia is not entundada, we are not talking about a monster. Numancia went away home with a lover. The father realizes of that as soon as he sees her. And he can not support that she disrespected the paternal authority.

We know that there are elements of the oral tradition that support the status quo, to consolidate the power of the authority. In fact, in many parts of Ecuador there are some beliefs: to disobey a parent is punished by supernatural forces with a violent death. The children are threatened with. In this case, the Tunda brings the monster of the prejudices. Numancia has left her house without saying anything to anyone, she had a lover and now is pregnant. She has suffered, she needs help, but Numancia does not have the right to return home. She is a shame for her father and for the adults.

In fact, the monsters are created by the very adults, a world in opposition to the one of the narrator, crowded with innocence: No one was glad to see Numancia again. And this situation disturbed me in excess. I was filled with indignation because of the indifference of adults. The sensation of fear goes inevitably with the monsters, like the sensuality might accompany the image of the sirens in classic literature. Nevertheless there is another perspective in Yachak.

In addition, the story has two basic elements: the technology and the ancestral knowledge. At first sight they would be distanced by the basic opposition of science vs. Santiago Pez writes about extraterrestrials and computers, at the same time as mal aire and mal del espanto. Is this short story an example of Magical Realism? It is a Fantastic-Marvelous story: it begins like a fantastic story, but at the end becomes a supernatural plot.

With the argument of a monster that kidnaps a young woman, La entundada has some virtuous elements. One is the narrator: the story is told by a child, permeable to receive fantastic stories and unable to understand the cruel world of adulthood. And as a secondary effect, it helps us to understand the African Ecuadorian culture, its credence, and the prejudices of the entire society not only the black community.

Is La entundada a story of Magical Realism? Some notions link the Magical Realism to the mythology of indigenous groups. But The Tunda is not related to Indians, it is related to the black community even if the Indians might have equivalent creatures. And the story does not have magical explanation. It seems to be nearer to the category identified by Todorov as Fantastic-Uncanny: the events seem supernatural in the beginning even the adults believe in the Tunda but finally they have a rational explanation.

Notes 1. Barroso VIII, All translations are mine. Anderson Imbert, , 8. Pez, , Ortiz, , 7. Bibliography Anderson Imbert, Enrique. Caracas: Monte vila Editores. Miami: Ediciones Universal. Flores, A. Mxico: Premia la red de Jons.

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  7. Naranjo, M. Quoted in Edufuturo, Cosmovisin, personajes mticos. Ortiz, A. Viteri ed. Antologa bsica del cuento ecuatoriano. Quito: Sistema Nacional de Bibliotecas. Pez, S. Quito: Abrapalabra Editores. Tzvetan, T. Buenos Aires: Editorial tiempo contemporneo. The archetypal construction of the labyrinth a term interchangeable with maze has come to denote disorientation and fear: at the heart of the Cretan labyrinth was the hybrid, monstrous Minotaur which fed on human flesh.

    The paper develops this notion to consider how mythical monsters for example, the hydra, the sphinx are used by contemporary writers of the urban such as Sinclair , or, drawing on cultural geography, how they might be interpreted as metaphors for the city itself. Keywords Boundaries, control, labyrinth, map, maze, minotaur, monster, monstrous, Other, psychopathology, secret, thread, Underground, urban legend.

    The City as Labyrinth The archetypal construction of the labyrinth a term interchangeable with maze has come to denote disorientation and fear: at the heart of the Cretan labyrinth was the hybrid, monstrous Minotaur which fed on human flesh. Related to this notion is the cultural phenomenon of the urban legend in what ways do writers respond to, or rework, urban myth? The pre-Hellenic archetype of the labyrinth implies following a single path; it is unicursal, whereas a maze implies a puzzle of interconnections, dead-ends, frustrations, and the playfulness of multiple choice.

    Like the Cretan labyrinth, the city is a human construction designed, in a sense, to compel continual movement. Historically, the city has been attributed with maze-like or labyrinthine qualities. As Adrian Fisher and Georg Gerster point out, early labyrinths were forts, portrayed in many cultures as walled cities which only the cogniscenti could enter.

    The London of Dickenss Bleak House is famously disorientating and entrapping: Mr Snagsby passes along the middle of a villainous streetBranching from this street and its heaps of ruins, are other streets and courtsthe crowdfades away up alleys and into ruins, and behind wallsand flits about them up the alleys, and in the ruins, and behind the walls as before. The literary construct of the metropolis as a dark, powerful,. It remained the dominant representation of London in the s, in fiction, surveys of London poverty and sensational newspaper exposes.

    Stead drew on the myth of maidens being sent from Athens as a sacrifice - to be devoured to draw attention to the traffic in girls in Londons vice emporiums. As Judith Walkowitz points out, such a myth, reappropriated, was the typology of sexual danger in the city. How to navigate or escape, though, if there was no red thread to guide you? The flaneur has been interpreted by critics of cultural geography as an embodiment of the blend of excitement, boredom and horror evoked in the new metropolis. Arriving in London in Henry James found that the city had become a strangely mingled monster[an] ogress who devours human flesh to keep herself alive to do her tremendous work.

    Contemporary Writers: The Labyrinth and the Minotaur The playground of these monsters - the labyrinth - has proved extraordinarily resonant for writers of the city. Ackroyd again: this is the horror of the city. It is blind to human need and human affection, its topography cruel and almost mindless in its brutality. The mythic dimensions of the contemporary British urban and suburban landscape fascinate Iain Sinclair. In Lights Out for the Territory: Nine Excursions in the Secret History of London, the author, accompanied by Mark Atkins the photographer, attempts to make sense of London, drifting purposefully so as to allow the fiction of an underlying pattern to reveal itself.

    Trying to penetrate the Barbican Arts Complex, to get to the heart of the labyrinth, is a frustrating exercise as there was no centre. Man-animal monsters can be traced along a path that leads to the minotaur a path which has its attendant winos and beggars. This is the red line [or red thread] that offers one of the walks through the concrete maze of the Barbican. Ayrtons Minotaur is a black and greasy bullmancrouched in pain, struggling to comprehend the burden it has to bear, but only one of many hybrid forms that lurk, disguised, across the web of London: a guiltprovoking bestiary.

    The Prologue hints that this is the result of a shady deal done in the Labyrinth. In Grubs Rib music fights with the incessant traffic outside, and both generate heat and smoke. The steps, the loading dock, the dumpster.

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    Everything stinks. Everything is slick and hard to hold. Both Updikes and Jordans stories are set in public buildings within cities a hospital and a public baths respectively : these can be read as microcosms of the larger urban space. In Updikes The City Carson visits yet another American city on business, but due to a mystery illness later diagnosed as appendicitis he spends his entire trip in hospital. The hospital is described as a labyrinth, or maze: what he saw from the window of his own room was merely the wall of another wing of the hospitaland here and there thoughtful bathrobed figures gazing outward toward the wall of which his own bathrobed figure was a part.

    Within such a disorientating context, Carson is turned inside out, metamorphosed into monstrous, gigantic shape: There materialized a host of specialists in one department of Carsons anatomy or another, so that he felt huge, like Gulliver pegged down in Lilliput for inspection. Neil Jordans story describes the last visit by a young builders labourer an Irish immigrant to the Victorian Kensal Rise Public Baths: here, in a shower cubicle identical to all the other cubicles, the unnamed labourer commits suicide.

    The repeated rituals of the weekly visit to the baths, to wash off the dust and grime of the city, form a ring in the circular maze that led to the hidden purpose. After the suicide, the other bathers gaze at the body, a map of an individuals life and the life of the city: the lines on the forehead proclaimed the lessons of an acquisitive metropolis, the glazed eyes themselves demonstrating the failure, the lessons not learnt.

    Graham Swifts Seraglio is a story about a British couple on holiday in Istanbul who have travelled in an attempt to escape their unhappiness the husband has had an affair and the wife has had a miscarriage. Istanbul is exotic and alluring, but also violent and potentially dangerous: the Bazaar itself is a labyrinth with a history of fires.

    People have entered, they say, and not emerged. A recent travel article describes the Tunis souk in these terms: so identical are the endless covered stalls and their wares, that to find your way out of the maze you almost feel the need to trail a piece of thread behind you as if negotiating the Minotaurs labyrinth. Nowadays a waiting minicab, the drivers business card, and a mobile phone do the job for you. Lewis Mumford describes the sprawling giantism30 of the modern city and argues that its evolution into a misshapen form has signalled an end to distinct boundaries for example, between natural and urban worlds.

    Thus, the modern, and subsequently postmodern,urban experience is constructed as monstrous. Ackroyd acknowledges that the city has commonly been portrayed in monstrous form, a swollen and dropsical giant which kills more than it breeds. Notably, Elizabeth Wilson has used the hybrid, riddling Sphinx the Greek version 32 as a metaphor for the city.

    Subsequently, the Sphinx has come to represent urban disorder, haunting western writers on, and planners of, the city. Situated in this context, the city-narratives Im discussing can all be read as articulating a desire to impose order on a perceived urban chaos. One way of exerting some kind of control over the city space is to map it, literally and psychologically, as many of the characters in these texts do.

    Interestingly, it is Dracula who is credited by Iain Sinclair, in his recent account of walking around the M25 Londons orbital motorway , as being the original psychogeographer, map fetishist. Sinclair suggests that the impact of Stokers fiction came from the sense that it was a recurring fable of infiltration: yesterdays Undead are todays asylum seekers, the Undispersed. Social control in cities has long been about surveillance in some form, from Panopticon-style prisons and workhouses in the nineteenth century to current CCTV.

    The system of the eye, for the urban middle classes at least, offered control of the Other, a defence against the threat of the urban proletariat and the mysterious customs of immigrants. Even with his shirt on you can tell that he has hair all over his back and on his shoulders, thick and springy.

    Neurosis about the dust and decay generated by the city and hidden in its dark depths is symbolically evident in many city-narratives. Furthermore, superstitious fear of the dark depths engenders urban legends the spaces beneath the city as a breeding ground for giant rats. Literary narratives also help the reader to decipher secret social connections at work which make the city ultimately systematic and so narratable.

    Geoff Rymans , which started as an interactive novel on the Web, gives us imaginary portraits of passengers, plus the driver, travelling on a Bakerloo-line tube train in the London underground, on January 11 We learn tantalising details of each of the characters lives, starting to make connections and spin a social web. That is, until the section at the end of the novel, The End of the Line, describes the effects of a crash on each car of the train, pandering to, and parodying, the paradoxical desire to witness monstrous events: Sensation and violence at last!

    Discover the horrible end of the carriage of your choice!!! To me, trains are like a straight line with no end. And there I was, surrounded by the darkness, being carried farther and farther from my home. He senses the danger of getting too close to something much larger than myself; possibly a fear of insignificance. Like a wild animal would when confronted by a larger beast, I felt the urge to flee for my life. The narrator of Julian Barness novel Metroland is fascinated by the train journey over a viaduct system at Kilburn, an area of London: cross-hatched streets of tall, run-down Victorian terracesA huge, regular, red-brick Victorian building stood in the middle: a monster school, infirmary, lunatic asylum I never knew, nor wanted that sort of precisionOn a late afternoon in winterit was melancholy and frightening, the haunt of acid-bath murderers.

    It carried the stigmas attached to the nineteenth-century city, but also became the territory of phobias: neurasthenia, hysteria, agoraphobia, and claustrophobia. It is an agoraphobic, giddy space, productive of hysteria, terror. The image of the labyrinth conceals this other way of experiencing the threat of urban space as too open, causing whomsoever ventures into it to become totally destabilised.

    Agoraphobic space tempts the individual who staggers across it to do anything and everything commit a crime, become a prostitute. He is seemingly obsessed about the notion that the hotel bell captain is stealing cans of Heineken from his room, and about whether he is tipping correctly. He imagines that there is a conspiracy amongst the hotel staff and that they are monitoring him; revealing his own fear of surveillance.

    Francois Blase wonders. This resonates with modernist discourse, in which the crowd, with its own mode of being, is a metonym for the city. In this sense the figure of the stranger evokes the fear also expressed in fear of the crowd. The female character, an Australian visitor to an American city, takes a trip to the laundrette in the neighbourhood, in an effort to explore and be accepted.

    Instead, she is intimidated in the laundrette by an abusive, drunk, sexually aggressive male. Linking disorientation to phobias, which themselves render the urban space monstrous, is a recurring feature of writing about the city. Will Selfs essay Big Dome describes his evolving relationship with London, from growing up in the suburbs to living in Vauxhall, as characterised by disorientation, and an accumulation of narratives, or memoirs.

    I inhabit a city [Self writes] within which, no matter where I look, or in which direction I turn, I still find myself hideously oriented. I suffer from a kind of claustro-agoraphobia, if such a thing is possible. I fear going outside in London because it is so cramped and confining. Any object the eye pursues becomes a story, another track scored in time. Any person is a potential Medusa, Gorgon-headed with writhing, serpentine tales. Indeed, Self recalls that in his earlier attempts to write the city, it becomes a growing, mutating thinga brooding, potentially violent presence.

    Urban Legends The notion that the primitive might return as superstition is exemplified in the cultural phenomenon of the urban legend, recycled tales full of warnings against the imaginary hazards of everyday life. Central to urban legends are the car, symbol of modern urban culture; transgressive animals, usually familiar and recognisable, which swell to a gigantic size or become mutants feral cats, malformed pigeons, gigantic alligators , and ordinary household objects which take on an alarming agency.

    Animals Probably the most durable urban myth in the history of cities67 is the one about alligators living in the sewers of New York. Around at least since the s, the myth has spawned a cultural industry, the monstrous made material in the form of cartoons, art, films, childrens books, films, and emblazoned T-shirts. In these narratives unruly nature re-emerges as an urban phenomenon, blurring the boundary between the domesticated and the feral. Even in the familiar landscape of the residential urban, we learn that danger is just over the fence.

    Every nextdoor neighbours dog could reassert the boundaries of their species at any moment. In The Dog and the Dish Sinclair 6. A pair of pit-bulls becomes a Cerberus monster advancing towards you, two heads on a single trunk. Sinclair argues that by granting pit bulls a franchise to haunt us,71 we have created a monster that can be sold to the world. When the domestic cat goes through the flap, it returns to a city increasingly populated by transgressive [hybrid] animals, notes David Sibley.

    In the urban legend, the domestic is constructed as a site of fear and anxiety, and familiar objects have the potential to take on a monstrous agency. For example, in Home 1 , a creative montage by Adrian Passmore, the defining objects of the modern home are transformed into instruments of domination. You can put a fine car on the drive. In the new myth, suburban couples take part in wife-swapping parties. Bored suburban housewives become part-time sex workers. The suburb is the haunt of the paedophile, even the mass murderer. Terrorists hide out there.

    Its that guy in the paper who escaped from the prison yesterday. He wants to know if he can come in and rape me and cut me up a little bit. Well, after he does that, my coffees cold, so I pour a new cup Then Brother Douglas arrives looking a little more blue [from caustic poison-emitting bricks in his house]His left eye is a little worse, bulging more and glowing more often these days.

    Timmy leaves for school and his screaming indicates that hes being dragged by a stranger into a late model datsun, light brown, the kind of truck Duke, bless his soul, always thought was silly. I stir a little more Cremora into my coffee83 Carlsons satire appropriates urban legends which express the urban dwellers fascination for, and revulsion from, car crashes and those whose human protagonists are freaks.

    What is monstrous in this glimpse into ordinary suburban life is the speakers seeming indifference to or imagined horrific events as she worries more about the performance of various consumer products the Cremora which wont dissolve properly in her coffee; the washing powder which wont remove bloodstains. Conclusion This paper has explored how writers have re-imagined the cityas-labyrinth and considered what forms the minotaur might take if it inhabited the dark corners of the contemporary urban space.


    The narratives, shaped by wider cultural discourses of cleanliness and control, explore dualities and blur boundaries between order and chaos; urban and wilderness; domestic and feral; human and animal, and human and. Even within the city, writes Jonathan Raban in a recent travel article, nature is engaged in a perpetual guerrilla warfare against culture. The city is a sign of collective, ordered humanity, but, argues Gargi Bhattacharyya, it also increases the animality of modernity precisely because its inhabitants are individualised, anonymous, and selfcentred.

    The labyrinth, as city, cannot be conceived in its entirety and is perpetually mutating. Elizabeth Wilson London: Sage, , Robert Drewe Harmondsworth: Penguin, , Geoff Ryman, London: Flamingo, , Ron Carlson, Reading the Paper, in Drewe, ed. Ibid, Bibliography Ackroyd, Peter. London: The Biography.

    London: Vintage, Barnes, Julian. London: Picador, Borges, Jorge Luis. The Book of Imaginary Beings. Bridge, Gary and Watson, Sophie, eds.

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    The Blackwell City Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, Brunvand, Jan Harold. London and New York: Norton, Dickens, Charles. Bleak House New Oxford Illustrated Dickens. London, Drewe, Robert. The Penguin Book of the City. Harmondsworth: Penguin, Fisher, Adrian and Gerster, Georg. The Art of the Maze. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, James, Henry. Essays in London and Elsewhere.

    London: Lehan, Richard. Berkeley: University of California Press, Mumford, Lewis. The City in History. Ryman, Geoff. London: Flamingo, Sinclair, Iain. London: Granta, In this image Damsleth, a Norwegian cartoonist who contributed countless illustrations to the Nazi war effort, depicts the United States as an amalgamated monster of contradictions. The inclusiveness of American culture made it the perfect foil for the singularity of Nazi totalitarianism, and it was particularly suited to portrayal as a composite monster.

    In the image, the great creature is composed of wildly incongruous body parts, each of which represents some facet of American culture that was anathema to the ideals of National Socialism. From the waving Old Glory, to the [Indian] chief headdress to the figure of the Statue of Liberty in the background and the textual label in the foreground, the monster is unmistakably a visual amalgamation of all things American. Ostensibly, the poster warns viewers against the dangers of listening to Allied radio broadcasts.

    Damsleth prolifically produced propaganda posters, almost in all. At the beginning of the war, his posters depicted normal, working people. However, near the end of the war, the posters began expressing military and war themes, including strong Russophobic sentiments. The books covers ranged from Christian books, pulp novels, and collection items called glansbilder. He also experimented with psychedelic art. Image : Harald Damsleth. Med hvilken rett?