Williams 1996

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Williams, David. Deformed Discourse: The Function of the Monster in Mediaeval Thought and Literature. Buffalo: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996.
"Although some mediaeval uses of the monstrous amount to little more than decorative or rhetorical exercises and sometimes serve a rather arid didacticism, the deformed functioned more often as a complementary, sometimes alternative, vehicle for philosophical and spiritual inquiry during this most intellectually speculative period of Western civilization. Unlike an earlier period in which the monster was conceived as omen and magical sign, the Middle Ages made deformity into a symbolic tool with which it probed the secrets of substance, existence, and form incompletely revealed by the more orthodox rational approach through dialectics." (3)
"Like the deformations used in the philosophical and theological discourses, aesthetic deformations also propose a fundamental critique of rational discourse. Such a critique is created through a certain dismantling of rational and logical concepts in which conventional signs of these concepts are deformed in ways intolerable to logic so as to 'show forth' (monstrare, as distinguished from (re)presentare). Thus the etymological origin of the monster contains within it its intellectual kinship to heuristic understanding." (4)

Nature Monstrous

"The common medieval image of the world as a book filled with signs expressive of the intention of the divine author rendered the entire cosmos a text constructed of both similitudes and dissimilitudes, of cataphatic and apophatic language, which required both an affirmative, hermeneutical reading beginning with beautiful rhetorical 'surface,' as well as a negative and deforming reading that 'sees through' the affirmative." (207)