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17 Sep 2014

Top Five Literary Monsters

Our list of the top five literary monsters found skulking around the classics. 


Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

'Before my eyes was a hideous monster, swimming backwards with enormous speed towards the ship, staring with its huge glassy eyes.'

The legend of this fearsome sea monster has its origins in fact - giant squid can grow up to 13 meters in length with powerful suckers and serrated tentacles. But unlike Verne's fictional man-grabbing version, in reality they are shy creatures who skulk around the deepest oceans. A live adult giant squid was only filmed for the first time in 2012. Nonetheless, it's not hard to imagine them getting angry and heading for the nearest submarine...

The Jabberwocky
Through the Looking Glass

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!'

There have been various attempts to translate Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem, but you don't really need to understand the words to feel their creeping sense of unease and flashes of mortal fear. The Jabberwocky in the kind of monster that enters your thoughts unbidden whilst walking alone in the woods.

The Cyclops
The Odyssey

'In one stride he clutched at my companions/ and caught two in his hands like squirming puppies/ to beat their brains out, spattering the floor.'

Single-eyed and single-mindedly hungry, the Cyclops traps Odysseus and some of his crew in his cave. Odysseus succeeds in driving a stake into the monster's great eye and escaping, but not before the monster has dismembered a few of his friends and and eaten them, innards and all.


The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales

'A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful.'

Cthulhu, ancient leader of a great cult of death and darkness, lives just out of sight, beneath the sea, in a submerged and vast city. For now, he is trapped down there but his presence can still make people dream of the infinite horror he embodies...

Frankenstein's monster

'God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and abhorred.'
The truth is that Frankenstein's 'monster' is actually a rilly sweet guy. Made out of rotting old body parts he may be, but in personality he is not monstrous at first.