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Examples

  • King James II., who has first induced the _comprachicos_ to trepan and mutilate Clancharlie's real heir (afterwards Gwynplaine, the eponymous hero of the book), and has then made Lord David a "_pair substituĂ©_" [115] on condition that he marries one of the king's natural daughters, the Duchess Josiane, a duchess with no duchy ever mentioned.

    A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2 To the Close of the 19th Century

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  • I read the Man Who Laughs when I was a kid, and I *still* shudder when I think of it.

    March 7, 2007

  • Those who traffic in deformed children, popular baddies in Spanish folklore.

    Victor Hugo's novel The Man Who Laughs is a horror story of a young aristocrat kidnapped and disfigured by his captors to display a permanent grin. In the novel, Hugo gives his own account of the work of the Comprachicos:

    "In China, since time immemorial, they have achieved refinement in a special art and industry: the molding of a living man. One takes a child two or three years old, one puts him into a porcelain vase, more or less grotesque in shape, without cover or bottom, so that the head and feet protrude. In the daytime, one keeps this vase standing upright; at night, one lays it down, so that the child can sleep. Thus the child expands without growing, slowly filling the contours of the vase with his compressed flesh and twisted bones. This bottled development continues for several years. At a certain point, it becomes irreparable. When one judges that this has occurred and that the monster is made, one breaks the vase, the child comes out, and one has a man in the shape of a pot."

    (Not to be confused with bonsai kittens)

    March 7, 2007