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(Short List)   The 40 most gruesome deaths in literature. Stand up Bateman, take a bow   (shortlist.com) divider line 114
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12195 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 02 Dec 2012 at 9:27 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-02 12:21:18 PM

Khazar-Khum: Lenny's death in Of Mice & Men was quick & clean.
Pa Finn--same thing(Huckleberry Finn).
Where's Edward II?


Pa Finn's death was never shown. Jim just discovered his body.
 
2012-12-02 12:22:46 PM
When I was a wee lad, reading about the kid falling on the ax in Where The Red Fern Grows freaked me out a bit.
 
2012-12-02 12:25:07 PM
There's a Kafka short called The Penal Colony. A prisoner is strapped down flat below a huge machine. This machine has a sharp, fine metal point that very slowly writes the guilty party's crime into his back. Lightly at first, then gradually deeper. He dies over the course of hours.

A bit like Pit and the Pendulum. Kafka was the man. Weird and deep.
 
2012-12-02 12:30:05 PM
The list is worthless without de Sade (poor Augustine!). I'd also include any of the executions in The Torture Garden by Octave Mirbeau. It's a gorgeous book, but really disturbing.

Ready-set: There's a Kafka short called The Penal Colony. A prisoner is strapped down flat below a huge machine. This machine has a sharp, fine metal point that very slowly writes the guilty party's crime into his back. Lightly at first, then gradually deeper. He dies over the course of hours.

A bit like Pit and the Pendulum. Kafka was the man. Weird and deep.


Don't forget "The Hunger Artist" or "The Country Doctor"!
 
2012-12-02 12:38:26 PM
Pfft, they chose Dumbledore's death as gruesome? What about poor Snape? Guy gets savaged by a huge fark-off snake and is left to die, bleeding, a slow, agonising death.
 
2012-12-02 12:39:00 PM
Dude...Dennis Nedry got freaking disemboweled by a dinosaur and even HE ranks under Dumbledore?

Lack of this and previously mentioned Catch 22 death makes this list less than satisfactory.
 
2012-12-02 12:41:36 PM

cirby: Quite a lot of sad-but-not-really-gruesome deaths in there.


Agreed. We seem to be working with differing definitions of "gruesome". Hanged? Drowned?Not gruesome (unless the author goes into detail).

And like many here, my first thought was that the cask of amontillado had better be on the list.
 
2012-12-02 12:44:09 PM

TofuTheAlmighty: Basically every death in Infinite Jest was more gruesome than the majority of those on the list. David Foster Wallace was a weird (but brilliant) dude.


I'm currently reading it for the first time (or at least trying... it's like wading through wet cement) and there's only been one death so far, but it really creeped me out. A guy with a horrible head cold gets tied up and gagged and slowly suffocates to death, tearing all his abdominal muscles in the process as he tries to force the snot out of his nose. I'm already seeing why Wallace committed suicide... I think he really understood how cruel life could be.
 
2012-12-02 12:54:01 PM
Surprised they picked Dumbledore and left out anything from The Hunger Games.
 
2012-12-02 01:04:58 PM
Denethor and Saruman's deaths in LOTR are both pretty brutal, especially compared to the good guys who die valiantly in battle.

I think a lot of it has to do with your personal squeamishness. I would view hanging or throat-slitting as very gruesome, but other people might not.
 
2012-12-02 01:12:02 PM

AdmirableSnackbar: Of all the options for a Stephen King entry, they chose an undead character? Should have been Randall Flagg. That was uncomfortable to read.


Should have been Tad. A little kid dying from dehydration inside a sweltering hot broken down Ford Pinto because a rabid St Bernard prevented his escape deserves to be on this list.
 
2012-12-02 01:12:05 PM

MagSeven: I would put little Stanislovas' death from The Jungle (Upton Sinclair). Poor kid passed out from sickness/hunger on the floor of the factory and was eaten by rats. That freaked me out as a 4th grader.


Screw him. I always found little Stanislovas to be a puling little attention whore.
 
2012-12-02 01:34:34 PM
Haven't yet read the listed but posting about the Bateman reference... Prior to reading Easton-Ellis book, i had seen most every horror movie, read every Stephen King book,... did not consider myself squeamish in the slightest... That probably was the most shocking and shudder-worthy thing i had ever read... i felt disturbed... Its funny, after already being exposed to it, i'm now desensitized to it... (i wouldn't bat an eye if i reread the book), and for all the author's otherwise pretensions, that book is probably in my top 10 of favorite alltime books.
 
2012-12-02 01:37:22 PM
No Hannibal, where Lecter and Clarice eat the FBI director's brain while he's still alive and then Lecter shoots him in the face with a crossbow to kill him? I made the mistake of reading that scene while I was eating breakfast.

And the scene with the rats is by far the most gruesome death in American Psycho.
 
2012-12-02 01:40:41 PM
How about the original Snow White? At Snow White's wedding, the wicked stepmother queen is forced to put on red-hot iron shoes and dance in them till she drops dead.
 
2012-12-02 01:42:29 PM
Not a single death from "A Song of Fire and Ice" series?

Shame on you, list.
 
2012-12-02 01:57:31 PM
Yeah, somebody's never read The 120 Days of Sodom by de Sade. I haven't ever finished it. Got to the part with the "Hell Libertine" and said nope.
 
2012-12-02 02:39:10 PM

dahmers love zombie: Yeah, somebody's never read The 120 Days of Sodom by de Sade. I haven't ever finished it. Got to the part with the "Hell Libertine" and said nope.


Ahh the 90's. Dated a goth girl who loved that book.
 
2012-12-02 02:39:39 PM
Technically not a death, nor literature, but Aaron Dembski-Bowden's The First Heretic has a pretty gruesome depiction of possession. I mean, yeah, there are gruesome deaths (exsanguination, getting raped to death by daemons, etc) but it's the way Argal Tal, the protagonist, re-enacts the book of Job that's disturbing.
 
2012-12-02 02:42:18 PM

dahmers love zombie: Yeah, somebody's never read The 120 Days of Sodom by de Sade. I haven't ever finished it. Got to the part with the "Hell Libertine" and said nope.


It's a list on the internets. I surprised it mentioned anything written before 1980.
 
2012-12-02 02:54:02 PM

The Downfall: Not a single death from "A Song of Fire and Ice" series?

Shame on you, list.


Here, have some pie. It'll make you feel better.
 
2012-12-02 03:00:12 PM
The death from Salem's Lot that is listed is far from the most gruesome death in that book. The would-be vampire hunter who goes down into the basement only to discovered the stairs have been rigged to collapse, dropping him on a bunch of wooden stakes, is one of the most gruesome things I've ever read.

/omg, i just realized how ironic it is to have a vampire hunter killed by wooden stakes!
 
2012-12-02 03:04:55 PM

dickfreckle: I confess that Easton-Ellis is a guilty pleasure of mine. But that scene with the rodent and the PVC is just...man that was just disturbing.


This a thousand times, how did that death not make the list but paul owens did?
 
2012-12-02 03:05:26 PM

Ashelth: Ahh the 90's. Dated a goth girl who loved that book.


Never heard of the book but God I miss the goth girls of the '90s.
 
2012-12-02 03:13:27 PM
Came for Rat, leaving sickened
 
2012-12-02 03:34:30 PM

gingerjet: I own two of his books but never read them. Whenever I see the titles all I can think of is Easton-Ellis as a bitter old queen banging twinks a dozen at a time and trolling twitter. Which kind of ruins any possible enjoyment I would get out of the books.


Well, if that's the standard, there's all manner of books I should hate because of the author's well-known assholery. Or songs. Or my favorite athletes scoring a touchdown.

I say give him a try. The writing can be flawed at times (depending on one's definition of 'flawed'), but I've always enjoyed him. Particularly his short stories.
 
2012-12-02 03:40:30 PM

Wasn't Looking at his Neck: I'll just say that *Spoiler*....

Rubin's in Where the Red Ferns Grows was a migraine inducing yet wonderful passage to read while I was 8 to 10. Don't remember precise age


Came here to say this. Blood bubble bursting was particualrly fascinating yet disturbing to 4th grade me
 
2012-12-02 03:49:12 PM

Miss Stein: How about the original Snow White? At Snow White's wedding, the wicked stepmother queen is forced to put on red-hot iron shoes and dance in them till she drops dead.


Some of those old fairytales were hardcore!
 
2012-12-02 04:09:21 PM
Les Mis -- Javert's death was not particularly gruesome as it was a suicide and pales in comparison to Fantine's fate.

In Cold Blood -- The deaths of Hickok and Smith was a gruesome death? Compared to the slaughter they inflicted on the Clutters? I think not.
 
2012-12-02 04:21:25 PM
Oh, I dunno... I think some of the nasty ends described in Larry McMurty's Lonesome Dove book series alone could give some of these a run for their money...

//Ahumado's string of tortuous methods to start
 
2012-12-02 04:23:09 PM

dahmers love zombie: Yeah, somebody's never read The 120 Days of Sodom by de Sade. I haven't ever finished it. Got to the part with the "Hell Libertine" and said nope.


Does it even quality as a novel? I used to work shipping/receiving in a bookstore and one of our ongoing jokes was to, whenever we got a copy of that book in, open it at random and read the first sentence our eyes fell on. It doesn't appear to be anything other than nonstop descriptions of sexual sadism. I've written grocery lists with more of a plot.
 
2012-12-02 04:42:26 PM

Richard Roma: dahmers love zombie: Yeah, somebody's never read The 120 Days of Sodom by de Sade. I haven't ever finished it. Got to the part with the "Hell Libertine" and said nope.

Does it even quality as a novel? I used to work shipping/receiving in a bookstore and one of our ongoing jokes was to, whenever we got a copy of that book in, open it at random and read the first sentence our eyes fell on. It doesn't appear to be anything other than nonstop descriptions of sexual sadism. I've written grocery lists with more of a plot.


Seriously. A better literary death, if you must go de Sade, would be the play Marat/Sade and the description of the execution, which is too horrible to reprint here. Possibly the most grisly depiction of death ever committed to print.
 
2012-12-02 04:44:07 PM

devilskware: NO The Painted Bird? If I recall correctly, a prostitute gets a glass bottle full of manure shoved into her vagina and then gets her pelvis stomped on.


Ugh... yep. Jerzy Kosiński must have been a f#cking monster, with some of the stuff he came up with.
 
2012-12-02 04:49:37 PM
The most gruesome death I've read about all year was the little Lollard girl in 'Agincourt' by Bernard Cornwell. It occurs entirely out of scene. A demented priest orders his subordinate to rape and murder this little girl, and half a chapter later he comes back with a grin and blood on his sleeve. Subtle, awful, disturbing. It is made all the worse because the main character thinks about saving her life, and then doesn't.

After reading over a dozen Cornwell books this year, all of which took place during the Napoleonic wars and had hundreds of graphic deaths, the lollard girl was the only one that made me put the book down and say 'Holy S***.'
 
2012-12-02 04:51:13 PM
Take just about every death from the pages of Gary Jenning's Aztec -- now that's farking gruesome.
 
2012-12-02 05:25:14 PM
How was the death in The Stranger gruesome?

He shoots a guy. Its a rather sparse description of the event aswell... Gruesome conveys an air of emotional shock upon witnessing, but the whole deal with the book is that the main character is relatively devoid of emotion. Atleast for the first half.

Btw -- The Stranger is the best book i have ever read. Its just... horrifying yet familiar and relatable.
 
2012-12-02 05:48:08 PM

Gyrfalcon: Richard Roma: dahmers love zombie: Yeah, somebody's never read The 120 Days of Sodom by de Sade. I haven't ever finished it. Got to the part with the "Hell Libertine" and said nope.

Does it even quality as a novel? I used to work shipping/receiving in a bookstore and one of our ongoing jokes was to, whenever we got a copy of that book in, open it at random and read the first sentence our eyes fell on. It doesn't appear to be anything other than nonstop descriptions of sexual sadism. I've written grocery lists with more of a plot.

Seriously. A better literary death, if you must go de Sade, would be the play Marat/Sade and the description of the execution, which is too horrible to reprint here. Possibly the most grisly depiction of death ever committed to print.


Or pretty much any death in Juliette.
 
2012-12-02 05:58:56 PM
Waste of time.
 
2012-12-02 06:32:02 PM

kmmontandon: Clearly, someone hasn't read Steven Erikson.

You could put together a top forty list just from the Malazan Books of the Fallen.


Was thinking the same thing, specifically the life/deaths of Toc the Younger.
 
2012-12-02 06:47:12 PM

rjakobi: Dude...Dennis Nedry got freaking disemboweled by a dinosaur and even HE ranks under Dumbledore?


Came here to say pretty much this.
Fun fact: The Dilophosaurus in the book was much larger than the pansy-ass one in the movie.
/last thing he feels is its jaws clamping onto him as it picks him up by the head
 
2012-12-02 06:59:27 PM

Mr. Chainsaw: Oldiron_79: No love for anyone killed by Reavers? If they take the ship, they'll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing - and if we're very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order

40 Most Gruesome Deaths in Literature

Calm down, fanboy.


Browncoats always have to feel like they're involved in the party somehow.
 
2012-12-02 07:24:36 PM

Uncle Tractor: I wouldn't call it over-rated, but IMHO the gore distracted from what I saw as the real theme in the book, which was a guy who was so numbed to humanity that he only saw people in terms of what they wore or owned. That's what I'm left with, anyway.


The real theme of the book is desensitization. It's written in a deliberate, straight-forward, amoral, utterly soulless style to turn you, the reader, into a psychopath. The repetition of what everyone's wearing, the graphic depictions of violence and rape, the lack of any emotion of imagery or color in the writing, and the obsession with minutiae and the details of specific music in the 80s, is intentional. At first it shocks you, then it wears on you, and by the end of the book where every page is just a scathing account of mutulation and carnage, it ceases to have any more effect on you. The book's first-person narrative has turned you into him.

The movie is a good, complimentary companion to the book but conveys none of the book's depth and depravity. The book could never be made in full -- it would literally be 2 hours of x-rated torture porn.
 
2012-12-02 07:43:50 PM
The description of everyone dying on the plane in Ellis' Glamorama is rather over the top, if clinical.
 
2012-12-02 08:31:48 PM
that site hates all of my browsers. Pages and pages of nothing, then none of the book links work
 
2012-12-02 09:24:55 PM

The Slush: That is a pretty weak list. I haven't read American Psycho, but I'm pretty sure axe to the face isn't the worst in that book.

Also, where is Lovecraft?


Exactly...weak list.
 
2012-12-02 09:53:17 PM
So, uh, who else is making a list of all the "list fails without" titles and adding them to their "to-read" file? Anyone?

/gonna start with The Painted Bird
 
2012-12-02 09:54:55 PM

Barricaded Gunman: devilskware: NO The Painted Bird? If I recall correctly, a prostitute gets a glass bottle full of manure shoved into her vagina and then gets her pelvis stomped on.

Ugh... yep. Jerzy Kosiński must have been a f#cking monster, with some of the stuff he came up with.


Wow, I must've really blocked that book out, don't remember that part. That's also the one with the farmer who rapes his pet rabbits, right?
 
2012-12-02 10:44:06 PM
Shortlist.com needs to change its name to needlesslyloooooooooonglist.com. Slide shows should not be allowed on that site. Douches.
 
2012-12-02 10:49:55 PM

Precious Roy's Horse Dividers: Wasn't Looking at his Neck: I'll just say that *Spoiler*....

Rubin's in Where the Red Ferns Grows was a migraine inducing yet wonderful passage to read while I was 8 to 10. Don't remember precise age

Came here to say this. Blood bubble bursting was particualrly fascinating yet disturbing to 4th grade me


And stupid me, that ending was swept from my mind until I just had to Wiki it again.
 
2012-12-02 11:29:13 PM

skepticultist: The death from Salem's Lot that is listed is far from the most gruesome death in that book. The would-be vampire hunter who goes down into the basement only to discovered the stairs have been rigged to collapse, dropping him on a bunch of wooden stakes, is one of the most gruesome things I've ever read.

/omg, i just realized how ironic it is to have a vampire hunter killed by wooden stakes!


I popped in to say the same thing but it was actually knives from the kitchen arranged on the floor of the cellar that the doctor was impaled on.

/just re-read it.
//great book.
 
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