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Hannibal Lecter and Philosophy 

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ISBN 978-0-8126-9904-3


xviii + 268 pages


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Hannibal Lecter and Philosophy

The Heart of the Matter

Edited by Joseph Westfall
Volume 96 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series

“Hannibal Lecter is suave, cultured, brilliant—and profoundly evil. Who is Hannibal, really—vampire, psychopath, artist, devil? Drawing upon philosophers from Plato to Foucault, and Augustine to Nietzsche, this book will engage any reader interested in this villain’s multiple incarnations on page and screen.”

— Cynthia Freeland, Author of The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror and co-editor of Philosophy and Film

“Poor Clarice—up against the greatest screen villain of all time! Poor Will—knowing the truth is not enough! Poor Hannibal—searching for his equal! . . . Or is it his next meal? This delectable six-course banquet cuts, peels, pulls, and savors every morsel at the table Hannibal has set before us.”

— Josef Steiff, Editor of Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy

“The eighteen essays in this smart and playful anthology address, among other subjects, the connections between psychiatry and empathy, aesthetics and haute cuisine, friendship, art, and the nature of desire. Get to know Hannibal Lecter, this book suggests, and you get to know what it means to live a life of the mind, as well as the flesh.”

—Mikita Brottman, Author of Meat Is Murder! An Illustrated Guide to Cannibal Culture

“Like a savory multi-course meal prepared by chef cuisinier/serial killer Dr. Lecter himself, Hannibal Lecter and Philosophy stimulates the intellectual appetite, provides variety, cleanses the palate between courses, and concludes leaving the reader both satiated and wanting more. Come, let these writers show you to Dr. Lecter’s table, where pity has no place but which can be far more engaging than theater. Prepare for a dark but illuminating feast.”

—Philip L. Simpson, Author of Making Murder: The Fiction of Thomas Harris

“Though Dr. Lecter informs Clarice Starling that he is a phenomenon that resists explanation, this rich and provocative collection proves otherwise. With penetrating insight and a sophisticated wit that the good doctor himself would surely appreciate, these essays shed consistently sharp light on the moral, psychological, and philosophical complexities of America’s most beloved cannibal killer.”

— Harold Schechter, Author of Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal

“A smorgasbord of dark delights. The menu offers a seared entree of our own empathetic responses as manipulated by facial close-ups, as well as an exploration of the morality of people-eating. In servings that ponder the films, television series, and novels, this book will help anyone with a taste for intellectual blood sharpen her thoughts on the refined, sophisticated, and delicious Dr. Lecter.”

—Sara Waller, Editor of Serial Killers: Being and Killing

“No matter which version of Hannibal the reader prefers, he or she will find all of the essays illuminating, perhaps frighteningly so.”

— Michelle Gompf, Author of Thomas Harris and William Blake: Allusions in the Hannibal Lecter Novels

“While serial killers abound in cinema, Lecter alone galvanized the popular imagination and brought a fledging genre into the box office spotlight. Lecter’s truly phenomenal popularity, homicidal though he may be, correspondingly raises complex ethical and sociophilosophical issues.”

— Robert Cettl, Author of Serial Killer Cinema

Joseph Westfall is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Houston – Downtown, and the author of The Kierkegaardian Author (2007) as well as numerous articles and book chapters, including a contribution to Curb Your Enthusiasm and Philosophy (2012). His research interests are primarily in European philosophy, aesthetics, and the philosophy of literature and film.

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