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Saturn Devouring His Son (1819) - Francisco de Goya

One of Goya's more famous works is "Saturn Devouring His Son", which displays a Greco-Roman mythological scene of the god Saturn consuming a child.


Cannibalism is the act or practice of eating members of the same species, e.g. humans eating humans (sometimes called anthropophagy), or dogs eating dogs. Among humans this has been practiced by various tribal groups in the past in the Amazon Basin, Africa, Fiji, and New Guinea, usually in rituals connected to tribal warfare. The Chaco Canyon ruins of the Anasazi culture have been interpreted by some archaeologists as containing evidence of ritual cannibalism. Individual cases in other countries have been seen with mentally unstable persons, criminals, and, in unconfirmed rumors, by religious zealots. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannibalism, Aug 2003

Armin Meiwes

January 30, 2004, self-confessed German cannibal Armin Meiwes is sentenced to 8 years and 6 months' imprisonment for manslaughter [16] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3443293.stm). The prosecution had sought a life sentence for murder.


To be quite specific, we owe the word "cannibal" to Columbus. It is a corruption of the term "Carib," the name of an Amerindian people from the Caribbean islands and northern South America, which also means "bold" or "fierce" in their language. Columbus' informants were purportedly a rival indigenous group, the Arawaks. The Arawaks told him the Caribs were man-eaters, enacting a standard scenario of tellers of cannibal tales, in which one tribe (whether itself anthropophagous or not) tends to impute cannibalism to its neighbors. On a wider historical canvas, conquerors and invaders traditionally impute it (whether accurately or not) to those they conquer or invade, or to the domestic mob, or to political enemies.

In one sense, then, "cannibalism" did not exist before 1492. It was invented, or, as postcolonial persons say, "constructed" by Columbus. This isn't to say that anthropophagy was unknown in the ancient world. It seems always to have existed, or to have been said to have existed, usually in "other" places. One postcolonial scenario, as I suggested, claims that it has always been imputed, but never actually carried out as a tribal practice, and that this imputation is a chronically recurrent lie, with an imperially motivated objective of ethnic defamation. That it was sometimes a lie and usually an intended defamation is demonstrable. That it was sometimes true is also demonstrable by the kind of evidence usually accepted for other historical events: reports and descriptions by witnesses and a variety of archival, anthropological, and journalistic sources. The wish to believe otherwise is partly the product of latter-day political preoccupations, but also reflects an older and more general pattern of denial, in the Freud-related as well as the more ordinary senses of the term, which attaches to the topic in intriguing ways. --Claude Rawson, http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m2267/1_66/54668873/print.jhtml

Sexualized cannibalism fantasies

The wide use of the Internet has highlighted that thousands of people harbor sexualized cannibalistic fantasies. Discussion forums and user groups exist for the exchange of pictures and stories of such fantasies. Typically, homosexual men in such forums fantasize about eating men or being eaten by men, and heterosexual men fantasize about eating women or being eaten by women. As such, the cannibalism fetish or paraphilia is one of the most extreme sexual fetishes.

Rarely ever do such fetishes leave the realm of fantasies (aided by modern technology for photo modification or completely computer generated images). There have been extreme cases of real life sexualized cannibalism, such as those of the serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Sascha Spesiwtsew and Fritz Haarmann ("the Butcher of Hannover"). In December 2002, a highly unusual case was uncovered in the town of Rotenburg in Hesse, Germany. In 2001 Armin M., an 41-year-old computer administrator, had posted messages like his more recent ones (see messages) in Internet newsgroups on the subject of cannibalism, repeatedly looking for "a young Boy, between 18 and 25 y/o" to butcher. At least one of his requests was successful: Jürgen B., another computer administrator, offered himself to be slaughtered. The two men agreed on a meeting. Jürgen B. was, with his consent, killed and eaten by Armin M. Before killing him, Armin M. cut off his victim's penis, and the two men ate it together. The whole act was recorded on video.

This is not the first consensual killing mediated through the Internet, but it is the first such known case of consensual cannibalism.

The existing cases of sexualized cannibalism involved homosexuals to a disproportionate extent. Some observers have linked this to the higher likelihood of homosexuals to suppress their sexual urges. Armin M., for example, came from a conservative family, and in spite of having homosexual fantasies, had several unsuccessful heterosexual relationships. --wikipedia.org, aug 2003

The Cannibal (1949) - John Hawkes

In search of plotlessness

The Cannibal (1949) - John Hawkes
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"I began to write fiction on the assumption that the true enemies of the novel were plot, character, setting and theme, and having once abandoned these familiar ways of thinking about fiction, totality of vision or structure was really all that remained."

John Hawkes (born John Clendennin Talbot Burne Hawkes, Jr., August 17, 1925 – May 15, 1998). Born in Stamford, Connecticut he was an avant garde American novelist and a postmodernist, known for the intensity of his work, which suspended the traditional constraints of the narrative.

Educated at Harvard, Hawkes taught at Brown University for thirty years. Though he published his first novel, The Cannibal, in 1949, it was The Lime Twig (1961) that first won him acclaim.

Hawkes died in Providence, Rhode Island. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hawkes

See also: American literature - experimental literature - postmodern literature - plotlessness

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