Yevgeniya Traps From the Reviews: "I will spare you the details except to say that Gabrielle Wittkop had obviously given some thought to the kinds of things that can happen when having sex with the dead. She puts us right there, sparing us nothing. This would be a poor and revolting little book fewer than pages, which is quite enough, really if it did not have such a poised tone and sensibility, such intelligence, behind it. Or if it sheltered itself, in cowardly fashion, behind allegory.
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This post stands in the controversial shadow of its title. You have been warned. Quote: Sex is spoken of in all forms except one. Necrophiliac love: the only sort that is pure. Because even amor intellectualis — that great white rose —waits to be paid in return. No counterpart for the necrophiliac in love, the gift that he gives of himself awakens no enthusiasm. Should every gap in the literary offering be plugged with a high-brow treatment?
But some gaps do need the occasional thoughtful contribution. Rewind a couple of centuries, and we find one of her literary forefathers: Marquis de Sade. He plugged a gap of his own, but in a savage, largely unpalatable, and tedious manner. For example, his Days of Sodom runs close to four-hundred pages, and just the opening few contain enough brazen graphic violence to put off most people.
Readers always have to work harder to condemn the narrator in whose head they ride—Wittkop knew what she was doing. If watered down and trite. The narrative structure does appear simple enough: we are presented with the diary of one Lucien, antiquarian, whose life centres around the procurement of recently interred bodies for his own pleasure.
He has taste, but does not discriminate based on gender and age like Death, I note. And yet, Lucien shows the deceased a remarkable level of respect, speaks of them and to them with genuine affection, and treats them cleaning, bathing, and preserving them the way one would an infirm, yet willing lover.
Actually, any thriller or historically accurate description of war atrocities is far more gruesome for all the pain suffered by the living. If Henri Michaux constructs taboo thoughts out of ordinary situations by inventing imaginary tortures for those who annoyed him in real life, Wittkop takes a taboo and writes about it as if it were an ordinary situation out of real life.
In particular, the notion of how much control we, or our families, have and should have over what happens to our bodies after death. I wonder: how much does youth actually question the controversial? Probably best at university age, and in a sufficiently safe and liberal setting where the airing of nonconformist opinions would not give rise to discrimination or hate crimes. Do we have any right to demand something specific be done, or not be done, to our body after death? What right does a relative or friend have to demand a particular treatment be given to our body once they no longer have any contact with it?
Does it matter what happens to the body if no one ever knows about it except, say, a necrophiliac? To push the hypothetical point further: if no one is harmed physically, psychologically , no public decency is broken, and no one ever finds out, why would you care what your neighbour does in his or her private time with or without a particular collection of decomposing human cells?
Thinking along slightly more practical lines: Once the ritual of burial and mourning is completed and the body is removed from immediate contact with anyone who may have known of the deceased, does it matter what happens to the body so long as it is treated exclusively as a valuable resource either for saving lives or for the advancement of humanity?
I mean organ donations or scientific research. Thinking philosophically: If a body has been relinquished to natural decay in a coffin, can you care about what happens to it henceforth, if you never learn about it? I realise this is a paradoxical question: asking it requires the consideration of its complement.
Quote 1 also from Wittkop in Unsaid Goodbyes is a good reminder that despite any religious or cultural conventions, and short of inventing immortality, our bodies do ultimately feed into the cycle of regrowth. Why is there a Western cultural tendency to deny this, rather than embrace the benefits and solace of the truth? As this post is part of a series on the literary aspects of the fantastic grotesque, let me circle back to make a point about writing techniques.
The monster that you feared for months is a let-down once you get to dissect its paws and find the claws to be kitten-like. Kafka applies no such kindly, if painfully abrupt anaesthetic.
He makes sure the terror lasts, the horror gets a showing at regular intervals, and revulsion peaks the pie. This post is part of series on the fantastic grotesque.
This post stands in the controversial shadow of its title. You have been warned. Quote: Sex is spoken of in all forms except one. Necrophiliac love: the only sort that is pure. Because even amor intellectualis — that great white rose —waits to be paid in return. No counterpart for the necrophiliac in love, the gift that he gives of himself awakens no enthusiasm.
Share via Email Deadpan Gabrielle Wittkop. So I found myself somewhat discomfited when, on the tube, I took out this book and started reading. It is in diary form, recording the amorous exploits of one Lucien, an antiques shop owner who exclusively prefers to have sex with the dead sex and age immaterial, we learn.
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