-800 Krishna shot with an arrow by Jara

-700 Hector stabbed through the neck by Achilles

-431 Mermeros and Pheres knifed by Medea

-19 Dido fell on a sword, immolated herself

8 Itys hacked and cooked by Procne and Philomela

36 John beheaded by Herod

36 Jesus crucified by Pilate

1210 Hagen beheaded by Kriemhild

1470 Arthur stabbed by Mordred

1604 Othello stabbed himself

1606 Lear killed by grief

1677 Phèdre poisoned herself

1782 Valmont stabbed by Danceny

1787 Werther shot himself in the head

1818 Frankenstein’s monster immolated himself

1837 Marie stabbed by Woyzeck

1847 Heathcliff starved to death

1851 Ahab dragged into the sea by Moby

1856 Emma Bovary swallowed arsenic

1859 Sydney Carton guillotined by revolutionaries

1862 Jean Valjean lost his will to live

1877 Anna Karenina run over by a train

1880 Ivan Karamazov devoured by brain fever

1891 Dorian Gray stabbed in the heart

1891 Tess Durbeyfield hanged by the police

1897 Dracula stabbed with a Bowie knife by Quincey

1899 Edna Pontellier drowned herself in the Gulf of Mexico



1900 Jim shot in the chest by Doramin

1905 Lily Bart overdosed on a sleeping draught

1909 Melanctha killed by consumption

1910 Leonard Bast crushed by a bookcase

1925 K. strangled by one gentleman, stabbed in the heart with a butcher knife by another

1925 Jay Gatsby shot in a pool by George Wilson

1925 Septimus Smith jumped out of a window

1927 Robert de Saint-Loup killed in the Great War

1936 Henry and Clytie burned to death

1937 Tea Cake bitten by a rabid dog, shot by Janie

1939 Mother Courage shot by soldiers

1940 Mary Dalton suffocated by Bigger

1947 Geoffrey Firmin shot three times by a policeman

1947 Adrian Leverkühn died of a brain disease

1951 Malone killed with a hatchet by Lemuel

1955 Quilty shot by Humbert

1956 Christopher Martin drowned in the North Atlantic

1957 Lara Feodorovna died in the gulag

1958 Okonkwo hanged himself

1961 Rheya lethally injected herself, drank liquid oxygen, her sub-atomic structure
         disintegrated by a magnetic-field disruptor

1967 Aurelian Buendia III devoured by ants

1973 Plum burnt alive with kerosene by Eva

1993 Thomasina Coverly burned to death

1998 Césaria Tinajero shot in the chest by a policeman

2001 The orangutan eaten by the hyena or Gita Patel butchered and eaten by the cook

2002 Kafka’s father stabbed by Nakata

2004 Sonmi-451 executed by Unanimity

1900 30,000 Chinese Catholics killed during Boxer          Rebellion

1916 1,120,000 killed in Battle of the Somme

1918-1920 9,000,000 killed in Russian Civil War

1937 20,000 Haitians massacred in Dominican Republic

1937-1938 200,000 killed in Nanjing

1938 106,000 killed in Battle of the Ebro

1941-1944 800,000 starved to death during siege of                    Leningrad

1945 25,000 killed in Dresden

1945 80,000 committed suicide in Okinawa

1945 246,000 killed by atom bombs in Hiroshima and          Nagasaki

1947 300,000 killed in partition of India

1950 17,429 killed in Battle of Incheon

1959 86,000 killed in Tibetan uprising

1965-1966 400,000 killed in Indonesia

1966-1970 1,000,000 killed in Nigeria

1971 300,000 killed in Bangladesh

1972 100,000 massacred in Burundi

1975-1979 1,670,000 killed in Cambodia’s killing fields

1978 907 poisoned in Jonestown

1988 270 killed in Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie

1989 186-3,700 killed in Tiananmen Square

1994 800,000 massacred in Rwanda

1995 8,000 massacred in Srebrenica

1998-2003 4,000,000 killed during Second Congo War

2004 191 bombed in Madrid trains

2011 25,000-30,000 killed in Libyan Civil War

2011 5,000 killed in Syrian uprising

Sacrificing the Other:

Sadism in Narrative

Narrative as sacrifice.

Narrative as magical thinking—may the other's suffering avert my own.

The primal cruelty of narrative. (In myth, the cruelty of gods to humans. In the novel, the cruelty of humans to humans.)

The scapegoat a fundamental element of religion and narrative alike.

The theological ethics of narrative—sacrificing the other for the redemption of the self.

Villains as sacrificial victims.

Praised for cultivating sympathy, narrative's exploitation of cruelty is conveniently overlooked.


The audience is not satisfied unless someone suffers.





No pain, no story.

Is there a religion that is not sacrificial? Is there a story that is not, in valorizing sacrifice, religious?

Capitalism is also a narrative of sacrifice—the body sacrificed for labor, the poor sacrificed for the rich, pleasure sacrificed for consumption.

The novel as sacrificial ritual, displacing the reader’s pain onto imaginary others.

The novel’s ruthless lesson: the other is good for suffering.

The disavowed sadism of the novel. (Sade adored the picturesque cruelties of the novel.)

The complicity of aesthetic distance with narrative sadism—artfully framing the other's pain, narrative offers his suffering as entertainment.


Before unspeakable suffering, narrative becomes perversely voluble.





A genealogy of narrative cruelty:

The ur-narrative: the drama of desire.

Desire's sacrificial logic: constructing the self against the pain of others.

Sacrifice a magic ritual for having it both ways, allowing one to simultaneously avert suffering and enjoy it.

Narrative's cunning passion for suffering: the audience can congratulate itself for its compassion while disavowing its cruel enjoyment.

Cruelty justified as catharsis.

In narrative, sadism ceases to be pathological and becomes the norm.


In their avidity for cruelty, narrator and audience egg each other on.

Human sacrifice may be officially defunct, but virtual sacrifice is alive and well in story.

Caveat emptor et venditor: the cruelty in narrative always finds its way out.