Sad monster

I read the first story in the A.S. Byatt book. "The Thing in the Forest," it's called. The Thing turns out to be (this isn't a spoiler) essentially the Questing Beast out of Arthurian legend.

Do you remember the Questing Beast? In The Once and Future King there's an episode where King Pellinore (I think that's who it was) takes a break from the chase. The Beast gets lonely and comes looking for him, to get him to resume the chase.

The image of a lonely monster is so powerful. I think of the original Frankenstein, or even more pathetic, the short story by Ray Bradbury about a Loch Ness-type monster, the only one left of its kind, who mistakenly responds to a fog horn thinking it's a mating call.

Byatt doesn't talk about the monster's feelings in the story; it's all about these two little girls who see the monster, and how these girls' lives are forever altered because of it. I wish she had. I would have liked a little something from the monster's point of view.


  • That would be a likely tragic tale. And I just have to throw a Star Trek reference into it--the "Tin Man" episode of TNG where an ancient, one-of-a-kind creature travels the universe for millennia, and finally meets a man to be his crew and companion. They are able to complete each other. One, who seeks silence, is able to merge with the other, who seeks to no longer be alone.

    posted by Blogger Running2Ks on 10:47 PM  

  • Being a Disney freak, I think of Beauty and the Beast as the lonely monster looking for love. Of course, as in all Disney stories, it all works out in the end.

    posted by Blogger Fred on 10:02 AM  

  • Thanks for the welcome. I hope no one minded me just jumping right in. Pellinore and the Questing Beast is a moving tale, a brilliant twist on romantic desire. Frankenstein is so sad, I can't help but pity the creature. The movies don't do justice to the book.

    posted by Blogger Quillhill on 2:57 PM  

  • Stories from a monster's point of view:

    1) The Invisible Man
    2) Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
    3) the Anne Rice novels (so I'm told, never read one of 'em)
    4) Eustace's story in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

    ummm, that's all I can think of for now...

    posted by Blogger Saur♥Kraut on 2:30 PM  

  • Oh, Bookworm! How you torment me! Every time I visit you I add another book to my list of must reads! There is never enough time in the day! I read Possession a long time ago and now I will have to search out the short stories by Byatt. I love the short story format, but I haven't read much lately.

    posted by Anonymous Nixie Knox on 9:47 PM  

  • Yes, Ray Bradbury likes to play with that theme . . . James and I have been sitting here watching the history channel's "Histories Mysteries". I was particularly interested in the Vampire, Yeti, and wereworlf segments. I've never been very interested in inhuman, evil monsters--only the lonely. Is that why my favorite HP character is Lupin? And he was my match on that survey too . . . yippee! Strangely, as I recall, I found comfort in Percy Weasely. A different kind of monster. The beauracratic kind.

    posted by Anonymous Laura on 12:20 AM  

  • How the heck do you spell "beaurocratic"? I'm sure I'm spelling it wrong. Too lazy to look it up.

    posted by Anonymous Laura on 12:21 AM  

  • I'm getting closer and closer to switching to a different blogging platform. I wrote this beautifully detailed comment yesterday, and where is it? Gone, gone, gone. I'll try again.

    R2k: Haven't seen that episode, but sounds like those stories about the man-plant symbs on the Outer Rings, by John Varley, I think. A lovely concept.

    Fred: I respectfully disagree. Beast is a lonely monster, sure, but 1) he's a monster because he was a jerk. His own fault. 2) However lonely he was, he had to know there was always a remote possibility of the spell being broken. 3) He KIDNAPPED Belle! The Thing in the Forest-Questing Beast-Loch Ness Monster-Frankenstein all have a pitiful innocence about them.

    Quill: Yes! They don't do justice to either book (Frankenstein or Arthur). Very few movies do justice to the book, but that's a subject for another post. :)

    Saurkraut, welcome! And I'll add John Gardner's Grendel to the list.

    Nixie, that's one of the best compliments I've ever received. :) But don't you go reading anything else before you finish your Patrick O'Brian.

    Laura, aww, did you have to remind me about that stupid quiz?? (I was Snape.) But VERY interesting comment about human versus non-human. I think I'm with you on that. I also have zero interest in books where animals are the main characters. You know, Wind in the Willows kind of stuff. BTW: bureaucratic.

    OK, crossing my fingers, I will now attempt to post this comment.

    posted by Blogger Julie on 6:55 AM  

  • This post reminds me of Hap Palmer's song about the Monster Man.

    posted by Blogger purple_kangaroo on 3:26 AM