In works of art, macabre (US: /məˈkɑːb/ mə-KAHB or UK: /məˈkɑːbrə/; French: [makabʁ]) is the quality of having a grim or ghastly atmosphere. The macabre works to emphasize the details and symbols of death. The term also refers to works particularly gruesome in nature.
This quality is not often found in ancient Greek and Latin writers, though there are traces of it in Apuleius and the author of the Satyricon. Outstanding instances in English literature include the works of John Webster, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mervyn Peake, Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Thomas Hardy and Cyril Tourneur. In American literature, authors whose work feature this quality include Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King. The word has gained its significance from its use in French as la danse macabre for the allegorical representation of the ever-present and universal power of death, known in English as the Dance of Death and in German as Totentanz. The typical form which the allegory takes is that of a series of images in which Death appears, either as a dancing skeleton or as a shrunken shrouded corpse, to people representing every age and condition of life, and leads them all in a dance to the grave. Of the numerous examples painted or sculptured on the walls of cloisters or church yards through medieval Europe, few remain except in woodcuts and engravings.
The series at Basel originally at the Klingenthal, a nunnery in Little Basel, dated from the beginning of the 14th century. In the middle of the 15th century this was moved to the churchyard of the Predigerkloster at Basel, and was restored, probably by Hans Kluber, in 1568. The collapse of the wall in 1805 reduced it to fragments, and only drawings of it remain. A Dance of Death in its simplest form still survives in the Marienkirche at Lübeck as 15th-century painting on the walls of a chapel. Here there are twenty-four figures in couples, between each is a dancing Death linking the groups by outstretched hands, the whole ring being led by a Death playing on a pipe. In Tallinn (Reval), Estonia there is a well-known Danse Macabre painting by Bernt Notke displayed at St. Nikolaus Church (Niguliste), dating the end of 15th century. At Dresden there is a sculptured life-size series in the old Neustädter Kirchhoff, moved here from the palace of Duke George in 1701 after a fire. At Rouen in the cloister of St Maclou there also remains a sculptured danse macabre. There was a celebrated fresco of the subject in the cloister of Old St Pauls in London, and another in the now destroyed Hungerford Chapel at Salisbury, of which only a single woodcut, "Death and the Gallant", remains. Of the many engraved reproductions, the most famous is the series drawn by Holbein. The theme continued to inspire artists and musicians long after the medieval period, Schubert's string quartet Death and the Maiden (1824) being one example. In the 20th century, Ingmar Bergman's 1957 film The Seventh Seal has a personified Death, and could thus count as macabre.
The origin of this allegory in painting and sculpture is disputed. It occurs as early as the 14th century, and has often been attributed to the overpowering consciousness of the presence of death due to the Black Death and the miseries of the Hundred Years' War. It has also been attributed to a form of the Morality, a dramatic dialogue between Death and his victims in every station of life, ending in a dance off the stage. The origin of the peculiar form the allegory has taken has also been found in the dancing skeletons on late Roman sarcophagi and mural paintings at Cumae or Pompeii, and a false connection has been traced with "The Triumph of Death", attributed to Orcagna, in the Campo Santo at Pisa.
The etymology of the word "macabre" is uncertain. According to Gaston Paris it first occurs in the form "macabre" in Jean le Fèvre's Respit de la mort (1376), Je fis de Macabré la danse, and he takes this accented form to be the true one, and traces it in the name of the first painter of the subject. The more usual explanation is based on the Latin name, Machabaeorum chorea (Dance of Maccabees). The seven tortured brothers, with their mother and Eleazar (2 Maccabees 6 and 7) were prominent figures on this hypothesis in the supposed dramatic dialogues. Other connections have been suggested, as for example with St. Macarius, or Macaire, the hermit, who, according to Vasari, is to be identified with the figure pointing to the decaying corpses in the Pisan Triumph of Death, or with an Arabic word maqābir (مقابر), cemeteries (plural of maqbara).
Anekdoten is a Swedish progressive rock band, composed of guitarist/vocalist Nicklas Barker, cellist/keyboardist Anna Sofi Dahlberg, bassist/vocalist Jan Erik Liljeström and drummer Peter Nordins. They are notable for the use of the mellotron and their heavy sound dominated by a pounding bass guitar. Their music is associated with the tradition of 1970s progressive rock music, especially that of King Crimson.
Since 2015 former The Church guitarist Marty Willson-Piper has been touring with the band.Black comedy
Black comedy, also known as dark comedy or gallows humor, is a comic style that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered serious or painful to discuss. Comedians often use it as a tool for exploring vulgar issues, thus provoking discomfort and serious thought as well as amusement in their audience. Popular themes of the genre include death and violence (murder, suicide, abuse, domestic violence, graphic violence, rape, torture, war, genocide, terrorism, corruption), discrimination (chauvinism, racism, sexism, homophobia, classism), disease (anxiety, depression, nightmares, drug abuse, mutilation, disability, terminal illness, insanity), sexuality (sodomy, homosexuality, incest, infidelity, fornication), religion, and barbarism.
Black comedy differs from blue comedy which focuses more on crude topics such as nudity, sex, and bodily fluids. Although the two are interrelated, black comedy is also different from straightforward obscenity in that it is more subtle and does not necessarily have the explicit intention of offending people. In obscene humor, much of the humorous element comes from shock and revulsion, while black comedy might include an element of irony, or even fatalism. For example, an archetypal example of black comedy in the form of self-mutilation appears in the English novel Tristram Shandy. Tristram, five years old at the time, starts to urinate out of an open window for lack of a chamber pot. The sash falls and circumcises him; his family reacts with both hysteria and philosophical acceptance.
Literary critics have associated black comedy and black humor with authors as early as the ancient Greeks with Aristophanes.Whereas the term black comedy is a relatively broad term covering humor relating to many serious subjects, gallows humor tends to be used more specifically in relation to death, or situations that are reminiscent of dying.
Black humor can occasionally be related to the grotesque genre.Cassandra Peterson
Cassandra Peterson (born September 17, 1951) is an American actress best known for her portrayal of the horror hostess character Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She gained fame on Los Angeles television station KHJ-TV wearing a revealing, black, gothic, cleavage-enhancing gown as host of Elvira's Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation. Her wickedly vampish appearance is offset by her comical character, quirky and quick-witted personality, and Valley girl-type speech.Castle of Blood
Castle of Blood (Italian: Danza Macabra) is a 1964 horror film directed by Antonio Margheriti and Sergio Corbucci. The film stars Barbara Steele, Arturo Dominici and Georges Rivière. The film was initially commissioned to director Sergio Corbucci who had Gianni Grimaldi and Bruno Corbucci set to write the film. A scheduling conflict led to Corbucci's friend Margheriti being hired to complete the film. To avoid going overtime, Corbucci was brought in to film one scene.
The film was released in Italy in 1964 and received low box office numbers which led to Margheriti remaking the film in colour as Web of the Spider (1970).Dance Macabre (film)
Dance Macabre is a 1992 horror film written and directed by Greydon Clark.Danse Macabre
The Danse Macabre (from the French language), also called the Dance of Death, is an artistic genre of allegory of the Late Middle Ages on the universality of death: no matter one's station in life, the Dance Macabre unites all.
The Danse Macabre consists of the dead or a personification of death summoning representatives from all walks of life to dance along to the grave, typically with a pope, emperor, king, child, and laborer. It was produced as memento mori, to remind people of the fragility of their lives and how vain were the glories of earthly life. Its origins are postulated from illustrated sermon texts; the earliest recorded visual scheme was a now-lost mural at Holy Innocents' Cemetery in Paris dating from 1424 to 1425.Danse Macabre (Grimm)
"Danse Macabre" is the 5th episode of the supernatural drama television series Grimm of season 1, which premiered on December 8, 2011, on NBC. The episode was written by series creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, and was directed by David Solomon. The episode was named for the symphonic poem Danse macabre, a piece of music played at several places in the episode by both the Reinigen Roddy Geiger and others.Danse Macabre (book)
Danse Macabre is a 1981 non-fiction book by Stephen King, about horror fiction in print, TV, radio, film and comics, and the influence of contemporary societal fears and anxieties on the genre. It was republished on February 23, 2010 with an additional new essay entitled "What's Scary".
Danse Macabre examines the various influences on King's own writing, and important genre texts of the 19th and 20th centuries. Danse Macabre explores the history of the genre as far back as the Victorian era, but primarily focuses on the 1950s to the 1970s (roughly the era covering King's own life at the time of publication). King peppers his book with informal academic insight, discussing archetypes, important authors, common narrative devices, "the psychology of terror", and his key theory of "Dionysian horror".
King's novel The Stand was published in Spanish as La danza de la muerte 'The Dance of Death', which caused some confusion between the two books (A later Spanish edition of this novel was titled Apocalipsis 'Apocalypse'). The same happened in Brazil and Portugal with both countries translating The Stand as "A Dança da Morte", meaning also "The Dance of Death". Similarly, his 1978 collection of short stories Night Shift was released in France as Danse macabre in 1980. To avoid confusion, the actual "Danse Macabre" essay was given the title "Anatomie de l'horreur" ("An Anatomy of Horror") when it was released in France 14 years later, in 1995.Danse Macabre (film)
Danse Macabre is a Canadian short drama film, directed by Pedro Pires and released in 2009. The film portrays the "dance" of a dead body twitching and writhing as it is drained of fluids in preparation for its embalming.The corpse was portrayed by dancer Anne Bruce Falconer.The film won the award for Best Canadian Short Film at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, and was named to TIFF's year-end Canada's Top Ten list. It won the Genie Award for Best Live Action Short Drama at the 30th Genie Awards,Danse macabre (Saint-Saëns)
Danse macabre, Op. 40, is a tone poem for orchestra, written in 1874 by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. It is in the key of G minor. It started out in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano with a French text by the poet Henri Cazalis, which is based on an old French superstition. In 1874, the composer expanded and reworked the piece into a tone poem, replacing the vocal line with a solo violin part.Elvira's Movie Macabre
Elvira's Movie Macabre (or sometimes simply Movie Macabre) is an American comedy television show that airs B-grade horror movies, occasionally interrupted by comments from the hostess, Elvira (played by Cassandra Peterson). In some episodes during intermission, Elvira would get an unexpected phone call from a character called "The Breather" (played by John Paragon) who would only call and tell Elvira weird jokes. The title shown here is the title under which the film was shown on the show; many B-grade horror films were rereleased with different titles.Ghoul
A ghoul (Arabic: الغول, al-ghuûl), is a demon or monster originating in pre-Islamic Arabian religion associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh. In modern fiction, the term has often been used for a certain kind of undead monster.
By extension, the word ghoul is also used in a derogatory sense to refer to a person who delights in the macabre, or whose profession is linked directly to death, such as a gravedigger or graverobber.György Ligeti
György Sándor Ligeti (; Hungarian: Ligeti György Sándor, pronounced [ˈliɡɛti ˈɟørɟ ˈʃaːndor]; 28 May 1923 – 12 June 2006) was a Hungarian-Austrian composer of contemporary classical music. He has been described as "one of the most important avant-garde composers in the latter half of the twentieth century" and "one of the most innovative and influential among progressive figures of his time".Born in Transylvania, Romania, he lived in Communist Hungary before emigrating to Austria in 1956. He became an Austrian citizen in 1968. In 1973 he became professor of composition at the Hamburg Hochschule für Musik und Theater, where he worked until retiring in 1989. He died in Vienna in 2006.
Restricted in his musical style by the authorities of Communist Hungary, only when he reached the west in 1956 could Ligeti fully realise his passion for avant-garde music and develop new compositional techniques. After experimenting with electronic music in Cologne, his breakthrough came with orchestral works such as Atmosphères, for which he used a technique he later dubbed micropolyphony. After writing his "anti-anti-opera" Le Grand Macabre, Ligeti shifted away from chromaticism and towards polyrhythm for his later works.
He is best known by the public through the use of his music in film soundtracks. Although he did not directly compose any film scores, excerpts of pieces composed by him were taken and adapted for film use. The sound design of Stanley Kubrick's films, particularly the music of 2001: A Space Odyssey, drew from Ligeti's work and also contained pieces by other classical composers.Ian McEwan
Ian Russell McEwan (born 21 June 1948) is an English novelist and screenwriter. In 2008, The Times featured him on its list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945" and The Daily Telegraph ranked him number 19 in its list of the "100 most powerful people in British culture".McEwan began his career writing sparse, Gothic short stories. The Cement Garden (1978) and The Comfort of Strangers (1981), his first two novels, earned him the nickname "Ian Macabre". These were followed by three novels of some success in the 1980s and early 1990s. His novel Enduring Love (1997) was adapted into an eponymous film. He won the Man Booker Prize with Amsterdam (1998). His following novel, Atonement (2001), garnered acclaim and was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. This was followed by Saturday (2005), On Chesil Beach (2007), Solar (2010), Sweet Tooth (2012), The Children Act (2014), and Nutshell (2016). He was awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 2011.Le Grand Macabre
Le Grand Macabre (1974–77, revised version 1996) is the only opera by Hungarian composer György Ligeti. The opera has two acts, and its libretto – based on the 1934 play La balade du grand macabre by Michel De Ghelderode – was written by Ligeti in collaboration with Michael Meschke, director of the Stockholm puppet theatre. The original libretto was written in German as Der grosse Makaber but for the first production was translated into Swedish by Meschke under its current title (Griffiths and Searby 2003). The opera has been performed also in English, French, Italian, Hungarian and Danish. Only a few notes need be changed to perform the opera in any of these languages.
Le Grand Macabre was premiered in Stockholm on 12 April 1978 (Griffiths and Searby 2003) and has received more than 30 productions (Everett 2009, 29). In preparation for a 1997 production at the Salzburg Festival, Ligeti made substantial revisions to the opera in 1996, tightening the structure by means of cuts in scenes 2 and 4, setting some of the originally spoken passages to music and removing others altogether (Griffiths and Searby 2003). The revised version was premiered in Salzburg on 28 July 1997, in a production directed by Peter Sellars (Steinitz 2003, 239). The composer was annoyed by Sellars's production, which opposed Ligeti's desire for ambiguity by explicitly depicting an apocalypse set in the framework of the Chernobyl disaster (Everett 2009, 29).
Three arias from the opera were prepared in 1992 for concert performances under the title Mysteries of the Macabre. Versions exist for soprano or for trumpet, accompanied by orchestra, reduced instrumental ensemble, or piano (Anon. n.d.).Macabre (1958 film)
Macabre is a 1958 horror film directed by William Castle, written by Robb White, and starring William Prince, Jim Backus, Christine White, Jacqueline Scott, and Susan Morrow. The film falls into both the horror and suspense genres.It involved one of Castle's first forays into using the promotional gimmicks that later made him famous. A certificate for a $1,000 life insurance policy from Lloyd's of London was given to each customer in case they should die of fright during the film.Macabre (album)
Macabre is the second studio album released by Dir En Grey. It was released on September 20, 2000. It was the band's first record to be released in collaboration of Free-Will's Firewall sub-division and Sony Music Entertainment Japan. The original print of Macabre featured an etched, tinted jewel case with five wooden beads placed within the spine. The album proper, like Gauze, included two booklets: one with the lyrics, and the other featuring a related image and poem.Macabre (band)
Macabre is an American extreme metal band from Chicago, Illinois. They blend thrash metal, death metal, and grindcore (sometimes with nursery rhymes and folk melodies) to form their own unique style dubbed murder metal. Lyrically, they have a strong focus on serial killers, mass murderers and a touch of sick gore humor. Most lyrics are based upon true stories and are about real infamous personalities. The content of the lyrics is historically accurate, and band members actually have known and met with convicted serial killers such as John Wayne Gacy on a personal level. They also have a side project called the Macabre Minstrels that play acoustic camp fire songs. Their current label is Decomposed Records.
Death and mortality in art