Book review of The Necrophiliac by Gabrielle Wittkop
This book review of The Necrophiliac will perhaps be weird and surprising. As art has a tendency to do, conflicting emotions appeared when reading The Necrophiliac. The subject in itself is quite morbid and disturbing, but here’s what the book did!
The Necrophiliac by Gabrielle Wittkop
“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.”
This description is kindly borrowed from Publishers Weekly through Amazon.
A necrophile main character
Okay, let’s talk about representation here for a minute. This is to date the only book I’ve ever encountered that centers the (love-?) life of a necrophiliac. I’ve always been into horror stories and those morbid true-crime spreads in ladies’ magazines, but this was a first. (It’s a weird flex, but I saw an educational video once, explaining why humans are drawn to morbid and gruesome stories, it’s fairly interesting).
Lucien, the main character, tells us of his encounters and one-sided love affairs with a variety of dead people. If it wasn’t for the fact that he is molesting corpses, you’d almost think it was a sweet lovestory. I thought it was well-written, perhaps a little too well-written.
I agree with some of the reviews on Goodreads, calling it out for not having a plot, but then again, I’m not sure we need one in this book. The Necrophiliac is not plotdriven, but based on glimpses of this character in his true self. Necrophilia is something so taboo in most cultures I’m familiar with, that even buying the book seemed shady and sketchy to me. It’s about a man having sex with dead people, even the small ones… It felt wrong to read the book too, and it felt very wrong, reading the ‘action scenes’. But then again, it’s just a book.
Should you read it then?
I think it’s a very good book – albeit not suitable for everyone. If you have read The Kiterunner, then it’s like those very heartbreaking scenes, except with a different view and all the way through the book. That’s how it feels to read The Necrophiliac.
I’d say it’s a good fit for the horror and gothic fans out there, that want a light read – in the sense that the book is less than 100 small pages long. I’ve put the book on my Dark Academia Reading Challenge.
Ps. I’m definitely going to read up on Gabrielle Wittkop, she sounds like quite the character herself!
Have you read The Necrophiliac – or something similar to it?
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