Spanning myth, history, and contemporary culture, a terrifying and illuminating excavation of the meaning of cannibalism. Every culture has monsters that eat us, and every culture repels in horror when we eat ourselves. From Grendel to medieval Scottish cannibal Sawney Bean, and from the Ghuls of ancient Persia to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, tales of being consumed are both universal and universally terrifying. In this book, Kevin J. Wetmore Jr. explores the full range of monsters that eat the dead: ghouls, cannibals, wendigos, and other beings that feast on human flesh. Moving from myth through history to contemporary popular culture, Wetmore considers everything from ancient Greek myths of feeding humans to the gods, through sky burial in Tibet and Zoroastrianism, to actual cases of cannibalism in modern societies. By examining these seemingly inhuman acts, Eaters of the Dead: Myths and Realities of Cannibal Monsters (Reaktion Books, 2021) reveals that those who consume corpses can teach us a great deal about human nature—and our deepest human fears.
Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.
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