Necrophilia  

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"Although Blue of Noon may be the only one of Bataille's prose narratives in which the term 'necrophilia' appears, the necrophiliac nature of its narrator's desire both develops that of the narrator in Story of the Eye and anticipates that in Madame Edwarda (1941), which takes up where Blue of Noon breaks off in that its narrator is himself now in a certain sense the decomposing object." --Modernist Eroticisms: European Literature After Sexology

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Necrophilia, also called thanatophilia and necrolagnia, is a paraphilia characterized by a sexual attraction to corpses.

Necrophilia as represented in the arts

see necrophilia in popular culture

Shakespeare, influenced extensively by the tragic ethos of the Greek biographer Plutarch, has the senatorial conspirators show the bloodied body of Caesar immense reverence, their general state of mind undergoes a radical transformation when it suddenly turns into thanatophilia for the slain dictator. The conspirator Decius Brutus in attempting to persuade Caesar to go to the senate, duplicitously offers Caesar a sanguine assessment of the day's outcome, and yet the sanguinary and necrophiliac imagery of Calpurnia's dream persists:

This dream is all amiss interpreted;/ It was a vision fair and fortunate:/ Your statue spouting blood in many pipes,/ In which so many smiling Romans bathed,/ Signifies that from you great Rome shall suck/ Reviving blood, and that great men shall press/ For tinctures, stains, relics and cognizance./ This by Calpurnia's dream is signified.

(Julius Caesar Act 2, Scene II)

Cleopatric death cults have often combined elements of both institutional thanatophilia and libidinal necrophilia, with the latter often dominating. Plutarch relates that Octavius' admiration for Cleopatra only grew after her death, that he ordered she be buried alongside Antony in royal splendor, and that on his return to Rome he incorporated an image of the dying Cleopatra (cum-asp) into his triumph. Beginning with the Renaissance and continuing into later centuries individual artists, as well as artistic movements (e.g. Romanticism, Decandatism), have demonstrated a veritable passion for and derived much inspiration from Cleopatra's life and death; among the most well known pictorial iterations of Cleopatra's suicide are Cagnacci's Death of Cleopatra (1658) and Rixens's work of the same name (1874). A work that may have inspired Rixen's painting is Gautier's story Une Nuit de Cléopâtre (1838), which includes a fantastic—and an undisguisedly fetishistic—description of the Egyptian queen's body post-mortem.

One could argue that the Legend of Osiris and Isis involved a necrophilic act; Isis is said to have fathered Horus with the dead Osiris's dismembered penis, albeit miraculously. According to Christian Origins in Egyptian Mythology, "an ancient Egyptian relief depicts this conception by showing his mother Isis in a falcon form, hovering over an erect phallus of a dead and prone Osiris in the Underworld."

In Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon, Macon Dead is explaining to his son Milkman that he is disturbed by the relationship that his wife Ruth had with her father, Dr. Foster. Shortly after Dr. Foster's death, Macon caught Ruth lying naked in bed with her father's corpse, while sucking on his fingers.

In Algernon Charles Swinburne's poem, "The Leper," the speaker is a scribe who had long desired a woman in the royal house where he is employed. When she contracts leprosy, she is deserted by all others. The scribe then takes care of her, and has an arguably necrophilic relationship with her.

Published in 1930, William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" tells the story of a lonely house ridden woman named Emily Grierson who deals with the strange circumstances of the man she loves, and her secret world of necrophilia. The My Chemical Romance song To The End is based on this story.

The 1994 Cormac McCarthy novel Child of God is a dark tale of a man who takes up life in a cave where he stores the corpses of his victims, and is one of the most remarkably sympathetic depictions of necrophilia in literature. The story is, however, more focused on extreme social alienation and the relationship we have with the outcast.

In Canadian author Barbara Gowdy's short story "We So Seldom Look On Love", a funeral parlour employee learns how to make the penises of recently dead men erect, and she commits sexual acts on the corpses until she is caught. In 1996, the story was adapted into the film Kissed.

A Japanese sub genre of both horror and pornography called ero guro or "erotic grotesque" often deals with necrophilia.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Necrophilia" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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