Friday, June 3, 2011

The End.

Beyond the black metal band I mentioned, the beast’s place in pop culture is embedded mostly in books, whether self-published novels, or Robert Louis Stevenson’s text Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes:

For this was the land of the ever-memorable Beast, the Napoleon Bonaparte of wolves. What a career was his! He lived ten months at free quarters in Gévaudan and Vivarais; he ate women and children and 'shepherdesses celebrated for their beauty'; he pursued armed horsemen; he has been seen at broad noonday chasing a post-chaise and outrider along the king's high-road, and chaise and outrider fleeing before him at the gallop. He was placarded like a political offender, and ten thousand francs were offered for his head. And yet, when he was shot and sent to Versailles, behold! a common wolf, and even small for that. (49)

This is an excellent quote to conclude with, simply because it gives a definitive description of the true nature of the beast—of there are many. There was really only one single thing was agreed upon in all my searching: that the beast was not imagined and that it was far more malignant than any common wolf killing—there’s a reason why the Beast of Gévaudan is so welled remembered in the collective French mind. Its reign of terror truly was terrifying, but despite all that, there really isn’t any definitive answer as to what the beast really was. In the quote above, Stevenson says the beast was a mere common wolf, while Jay M. Smith, probably the premiere academic on the beast believes the beast was actually a collection of beasts, a pack of wolves, perhaps—while some older sources believe it to be a rather warped hyena. With so many speculations, it’s difficult to choose a singular answer. But one thing is true—La bête du Gévaudan did exist.

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