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"The Necrophiliac" by Gabrielle Wittkop
Translated for the first time into English, this masterpiece of French literature is striking, not only for its astonishing subject matter but for the poetic beauty of the late author’s subtle, intricate prose. As the haunting protagonist Lucien grapples with a taboo desire, the novel goes far beyond mere gothic horror to explore the melancholy in the loneliest depths of the human condition, forcing readers to confront their own mortality with an unprecedented intimacy. The Necrophiliac has become a cult classic in the 40 years since its original publication, one that is especially intriguing due to the insight it lends into the author's fascinatingly reclusive mind.
A Parisian antique dealer with a lust for corpses indulges his macabre fetish in this faux shocking novella by the late Wittkop (1920–2002). It's written in a diary format that plainly records the thoughts and actions of Lucien, a middle-aged man of some means who suffers a terrible loneliness that can only be assuaged by having vigorous sex with putrid corpses. Sometimes Lucien attains heights of feverish passion, such as for Suzanne, a woman he exhumes from the Montparnasse Cemetery and keeps packed in ice in his flat, delirious with a happiness edged by decay. Lucien later travels to Naples and descends into the catacombs for more gnarly adventures before spiriting off the bodies of two Swedish adolescent siblings who have recently drowned.
"A striking book, unique in its kind, in which one suddenly finds oneself thrown up against 'that flesh so cold, so soft, so deliciously tight, found only in the dead.'" —Actuel
"This would be a poor and revolting little book (fewer than 100 pages, which is quite enough, really) if it did not have such a poised tone and sensibility, such intelligence, behind it. . . . This is a masterpiece." —The Guardian
"Stylishly written, The Necrophiliac is a disturbing but impressive work." —The Complete Review