Friday, 10 October 2014

The Necrophiliac by Gabrielle Wittkop Review

Lucien is an antique dealer, a French gentleman, and a necrophiliac. The book is told from the first person perspective in diary form as we follow Lucien’s dark adventures robbing graves and taking back the recently interred back to his home where his actions with them are described in unflinching detail. 

There isn’t much else to the story – the types of dead people changes such as going from a young woman, to an older woman, to a man, to a child, and to a mother and her baby. Each encounter is described tenderly in the style of a romance novel except that one of the (unwilling) participants is dead. 

Gabrielle Wittkop does try to explain her protagonist’s behaviour but I found her explanation to be a bit pat. Lucien masturbates for the first time shortly before his grandmother tells him his mother has died and that he must say goodbye. As he kisses the corpse of his mother he forever links the two things together – sexuality and death; a bit too convenient, no? I think the reality of the mind of a necrophiliac would be less logical than that to the point that their behaviour and their choices would be unexplainable and utterly confounding to the ordinary person. 

Lucien is a fascinating person though. At times he appears strangely normal as he goes about his ordinary daytime life. At horrifying moments, like when he’s with a dead infant, he clearly sets down what he believes to be the distinctions between himself and an infamous French medieval nobleman called Gilles de Rais who raped and murdered children. 

I think the shortness of the book (83 pages on smaller than average pages) helps the book as I don’t think I could have finished it at even twice the length. The repeated trysts that Lucien describes with the various corpses are both distasteful and dreary to read by the end of the book and the lack of a plot means the reader is left with descriptions of putrefying bodies and Lucien’s methods of maintaining the bodies for days on end. 

Wittkop has created an original character in Lucien while gifting him with an eloquent voice that never fails to disturb. Her writing is truly high quality and the book is easy to read for that reason, while being difficult to read because of the subject matter. The Necrophiliac is a morbidly engrossing read that anyone interested in horror or gothic literature might want to check out. There certainly aren’t many books like this out there!

The Necrophiliac

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