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No Go, the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling, and Making Mock

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0374223014
ISBN-10: 0374223017
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Editorial Reviews Review

Having previously examined the role of women in fairy tales in From the Beast to the Blonde, Marina Warner now sets out on an equally eclectic study that was originally supposed to be about men, but instead became a treatise on the grotesque. Taking on everything from Zeus to Bluebeard, from Punch to the Teletubbies, she examines the ways in which we give voice to our fears in order to master--and even mock--them. In that light, her sections on the modern cultural transformation of children themselves into "little monsters" should prove quite interesting to readers of Joseph Campbell and other scholars who take erudite approaches to pop and folk culture.

From Publishers Weekly

Noting an unprecedented and growing fascination with the grotesque in contemporary life, British cultural historian Warner (From the Beast to the Blond: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers) has amassed an eclectic compendium of fact, folklore, history and art, examining the seductive charm of monsters, ogres, witches and other figures of horror from centuries past. According to Warner, the enormous popularity of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series of juvenile fiction, the dark comedies of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and the use of "Quasimodo humps and lumps and lopsided pads" by designer Rei Kawabuko in her spring 1997 collection for Comme des Garcons are only the latest manifestations of a long-standing gothic tradition. She pinpoints three ways that horror serves to allay and confront human fears of abuse, abandonment and death: scaring (fear as a positive visceral experience); lulling ("Lullabies weave a protective web of words and sounds against raiders who come with the night..."); and making mock (dark comedy as a defense against fear). Freewheeling from text to text, Warner looks at fairy tales, cannibalism in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus and Roald Dahl's The BFG, the Circe myth, the sexual symbolism of the banana and the visual art of Francisco Goya, Michelangelo Caravaggio, Louis Desprez and Albert Eckhout. Arguing that bogeymen and monsters are frequently cast as our alter egos, Warner demonstrates the strong ties between these figures and children, both as sources of identity (as in Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are) and of danger. Though sometimes digressive, this encyclopedic and kaleidoscopic volume will keep fans of the grotesque reading late into the night. 100 b&w illustrations and 30 color plates
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 435 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (February 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374223017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374223014
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,150,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By The Wingchair Critic on October 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Marina Warner's 'No Go the Bogeyman' (1998) is a mesmerizing, rollicking, and joyously politically incorrect examination of the sociological origins of the nighttime bedroom phantasm known throughout the West as 'the bogeyman,' a being that the author links directly to the cannibalistic ogre figure so prevalent in classic fairytale lore.

The bogeyman, Warner theorizes, is a psychological and metaphorical shadow manifestation of the 'bad father,' who corresponds almost exactly to the 'wicked stepmother' of fairytale tradition. Warner believes that these negative parental images are obscure, metaphorical, and atavistic visages from an early time, when overt and covert competition for immediate survival amongst family members was a terrifying fact of daily life.

Warner suggests that while most parents may today fulfill the required roles of guardian, nurturer, and provider in most cases most of the time, every adult has the inherent potential to relinquish one or all of them, and become an abandoner at best, and a predator, child killer, or cannibal at worst.

Not that Warner lets children off easily: like Camille Paglia, Warner refuses to see children as essentially benign, innocent, and tender-hearted. Warner sees infancy in particular as a time of "unappeasable demands and violent greed," behavior which, by a strange but spontaneous circularity, is often the very behavior by which "ogres and giants--and cannibal witches" are defined. Thus, part of the reason such tales exist and are read to impressionable children is because the stories teach their young audiences to recognize and reject their own worst personal and social inclinations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Berman on April 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I happened to be researching a paper for my graduate studies and came across a mention of this book. I was fortunate to find an inexpensive copy of the hardcover edition (though, in retrospect, the book is worth its original retail price). Warner does an excellent job presenting not only a historical perspective on the bogeyman figure (from ogre to nursery cautionary figure to cannibal) but also a literary foundation for such a beastie. Whether you are interested in horror tales or folklore, this book will be a worthwhile primer in the topic of fear.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fabulous and profoundly insightful book that answers some very significant (and perhaps unconscious) questions: Why are we compelled to scare our children? And why do children delight in being terrified? An absolute must for both parents and students of folklore.
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By Emelie Rodriguez on January 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I'm a contemporary artist, and had been working a lot with Bogey lore at the time and found this an extremely useful research tool!
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