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Visions of Apocalypse

Representations of the End in French Literature and Culture


Edited By Leona Archer and Alex Stuart

Picturing the end of the world is one of the most enduring of cultural practices. The ways in which people of different historical periods conceive of this endpoint reveals a great deal about their imagination and philosophical horizons. This groundbreaking collection of essays offers an overview of the Apocalyptic imagination as it presents itself in French literature and culture from the thirteenth century to the present day. The contributors analyse material as diverse as medieval French biblical commentaries and twenty-first-century science fiction, taking in established canonical authors alongside contemporary figures and less well-known writers. The book also considers a vast range of other subject matter, including horror films, absurdist drama, critical theory, medieval manuscript illuminations and seventeenth-century theology. Moving from the sacred to the profane, the sublime to the obscene, the divine to the post-human, the volume opens up more than 750 years of French Apocalypticism to critical scrutiny.


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Leona Archer and Alex Stuart, with Daron Burrows Introduction


Few sections of the Bible have permeated modern consciousness as thor- oughly as the final book of the New Testament, the Revelation of John. Even as knowledge of Christian Scripture wanes in an increasingly secular western society, popular awareness of motifs such as 666, Antichrist, Armageddon, the Whore of Babylon and the Four Horsemen may, paradoxically, be greater than ever, to judge by the evidence of cinema and television,1 the sub- culture of extreme heavy metal2 or media coinages such as ‘snowpocalypse’.3 1 Cf. Kim Newman, Millennium Movies: End of the World Cinema (London: Titan, 1999); Charles P. Mitchell, A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001); Wheeler Winston Dixon, Visions of the Apocalypse: Spectacles of Destruction in American Cinema (London and New York: Wallf lower, 2003); Joachim Valentin, Zwischen Fiktionalität und Kritik: die Aktualität apokalyptischer Motive als Herausforderung theologischer Hermeneutik (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2005); Kirsten Moana Thompson, Apocalyptic Dread: American Film at the Turn of the Millenium (Albany: SUNY Press, 2007); Laura Theresa Copier, Preposterous Revelations: Visions of Apocalypse and Martyrdom in Hollywood Cinema, 1980–2000, The Bible in the Modern World, 39 (Shef field: Shef field Phoenix Press, 2012). 2 As testimony to the inf luence of Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast, one finds on the Encyclopedia Metallum ( [accessed 31 October 2012]) three bands with the name ‘666’, and a further eighty-two which feature the number in their name; fourteen bands are called ‘Apocalypse’, with a further twenty-nine including the word in...

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