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The Body Snatcher

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  762 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Scotland, 1815: Fettes, a promising young medical student, comes to realize that the corpses he and his fellow students examine in anatomy class are stolen from graves. When it's his turn to procure a new subject for the table, Fettes believes he is up to the task. But he can't anticipate what will happen that night--or the body that will haunt him . . . for the rest of hi ...more
Kindle Edition, 90 pages
Published (first published 1884)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,275)
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Robert Louis Stevenson, most well know for the famous Jekyll & Hide, has crafted a creepy, atmospheric, and elegantly written short story about grave robbery. This entertaining story contains only one real flaw which is that it leads to a rather disappointing ending.
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
I read this story out of a Classic Ghost Stories collection. This is one of those horror stories that is supposedly a supernatural tale, but really it's psychological, dealing with the depths that humans will sink to out of greed and desperation. It's pretty bleak and ugly, but it had a good message and a few good scares. RLS is an author I want to read more of. He has the writing style I enjoy!
Althea Ann
(1884) Great set-up, excellent writing... but the 'scary' ending didn't work for me at all. I felt like it was on the level of spooky stories kids tell each other during sleepover parties (do kids still do that?)
It's about some young medical students whose duty to procure dead bodies for their eminent professor leads them down a spiral of moral depravity and blackmail. A nice exploration of guilt and complicity.
I'm not really into horror stories because I have enough trouble sleeping already. I gave "The Flayed Hand" by Guy de Maupassant only a quick flip at the bookstore a long time ago because I found it pretty scary. The only horror story I'd properly read before RLS' "The Body Snatcher" was W.W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw", which I read for my English Lit class.

So, I don't have much experience with horror stories, and the best I can do is compare "The Body Snatcher" with "The Monkey's Paw."

The ver
Nadosia Grey
It was ok but I felt, such as with Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, that there was something missing. I liked the characters but I wished that it was longer so I could get to know them better. The ending in my opinion was really pointless. I'm not sure what genre this short story fits into but surely it does not horrify, shock, or disturb me. This may have to do with the way in which is was written. I'm half convinced that if it was written by someone else with a different prose, it would have made a bet ...more
Inspired by a real murder case, where Burke and Hare murdered fifteen people and sold the bodies to a private anatomy school. Not really scary per se (more like a tale of conscience and principles), but pleasantly moody in a traditional ghost story way. The ending reminded me of a particularly unpleasant one, that I had already forgotten. Crap. The whole body snatching thing is a really interesting topic, which shows the wonderful weirdness of people back then.
Alexis Drake
Dunque, i due racconti secondo me possono essere simili o almeno ricordare due altre famose storie di Stevenson.
In questo caso, il primo racconto "il ladro di cadaveri" a me ha ricordato molto "lo strano caso del dottor Jekyll e del signor Hyde" (che adoro, per inciso), mentre invece il secondo racconto "gli allegri compari", molto più lungo del primo e articolato in vari capitoli, ricorda decisamente "L'isola del tesoro".
Con questo non voglio dire che siano brutte copie, anzi.
Il mio preferito è
Andrew Ives
On the plus side, this is well-written, atmospheric, mysterious and moves along at a pace. On the other hand, it is rather grisly and the 'big surprise' at the end was frankly disappointing. Quite fun for a short bus journey or the like, but it's no Dr J & Mr H. I'd give it 3.25/5 stars
Not Stevenson's best, but still a collection of three short stories that are very much in his style and therefore really enjoyable.
Stevenson never disappoints! This was a creepy story, despite it not being a supernatural tale (which I thought it would be).
Marts  (Thinker)
Classic horror short story by Stevenson, highlighting the consequences of greed...
Buck Ward
So, I heard the audiobook version of this this afternoon, October 31, some 130 years following its publication. It seems to take a lot of explaining, of setting up, and in Victorian prose of which I am not enamored. But finally, it gets pretty good when Fettes and Macfarlane SPOILER ALERT go together to snatch their body, and then on the return trip in the rain and darkness they get the spooks. The ending though, with the unexpected change of cadaveral identity left me bemused. I didn't get it. ...more
David Sarkies
Apr 19, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like horror
Recommended to David by: My book club
Shelves: horror
Medical Science in 19th Century England
5 February 2014

As I was reading this book the thought that was going through my mind was how doctors in the 19th Century would, during the middle of the night, raid graveyards for freshly buried corpses, exhume them, and take them back to their laboratories to dissect them. This story however goes a little further because it is suggested that the main character goes beyond exhuming freshly buried corpses to creating his own corpses.
However, as I thought a
Este relato clásico de Stevenson ha sido adaptado numerosas veces al cine, especialmente memorable la de Robert Wise con Boris Karloff y Bela Lugosi, y es uno de los relatos más conocidos de su autor.

Narra como un joven doctor con aspiraciones va cayendo moralmente en picado. En el laboratorio disecciona cadáveres para que luego otros estudiantes puedan hacer pruebas con las diferentes partes. El problema es que hay una escasez palpable de cuerpos, y poco a poco se verá obligado a hacer la vista
Das Hörspiel “der Leichendieb” bzw. “Der Leichenräuber“ wie diese 1884 erschienene Kurzgeschichte in der Übersetzung von 1960 heißt, basiert auf einer Kurzgeschichte des schottischen Autors Robert Louis Stevenson, der vor allem für seinen Roman „Die Schatzinsel“ berühmt ist.
Das Hörspiel erzählt die Geschichte des ehemaligen Medizinstudenten Fettes.
Fettes brachte sein Medizinstudium nie zu Ende und Schuld ist der Arzt Macfarlane. Beide arbeiteten in ihrer Studienzeit für dem berühmten Anatomen Ro
I see that the ending was a whiff for some readers, but I liked it fine. Good tale, very good atmosphere. :)

Trying to think what other stories, or maybe one I have read repeatedly, have a similar beginning. "we all used to meet there - without fail, each would be in his familiar seat. might be for just the frame of some story told by the sitters. heart of darkness has a little of that. Hm...
Sometimes a story sticks around for a hundred years or more because English teachers like to use it to demonstrate point of view or theme. Sometimes a story sticks around because it gives everyone who reads or hears it a little frisson of horror. Stevenson is a consummate storyteller, such that this one still gives me the heebie-jeebies after I don't know how many readings over the years. This isn't a subtle work of psychological insight. This is the archetype of half the horror comics I read as ...more
Claire Peal
Great idea just too short for my liking. I would have liked the second descriptive part of the story to be fleshed out a bit more ( if you will excuse the pun) and the dramatic element therefore heightened.
Taysha Charlton
I love Robert Louis Stevenson's style of writing. This is the definition of Gothic literature and typical "tales of terror" which mirrors the style of Poe. The atmosphere is electric. I was instantly drawn to reading this because I love the movie. It disappointed a little regarding Gray's lack of dialogue because I'm fascinated by his character. But I guess that's what happens when you watch the movie first, haha. In terms of Gray and his disturbing effect on Macfarlane, maybe it wasn't emphasis ...more
I am not sure if it was a good idea to read this book before I take an Anatomy class. A story about the attempts of science to remain amoral or above morality and the inherent costs of trying to take humanity out of science. When combined with money what gross monstrosities are we capable of committing in the name of science? Far too often it is only later that we question the merits of what we have done. In so doing we actually make man's quest for knowledge his fall from grace. Ironic, I never ...more
'The Body Snatcher' is a grisly short story written about 1815 by Robert Louis Stevenson.
The title of this story was so familiar and yet I had no idea what it was about. I was expecting something really scary but it never happened. The whole idea of body snatchers wasn’t new to me but I still found the basic premise for the story the most disturbing part of it. What was supposed to be the climax made the whole thing seem ridiculous. Seemed like it would make a better ghost story you tell around the campfire than a short story to read.
Kristen-Marie Freeman
I listened to this short story through the Classic Tales podcast on iTunes.

It's ironic because I had heard a Radio Lab program on NPR today about "resurrectionists," who had the grisly job of providing doctors with cadavers for dissection, most often by nefarious means. I liked this short story for its interesting vocabulary more than it's spook factor, which, by today's standards, was pretty tame.

An uncharacteristically dark and grisly kind of tale for Stevenson, from what I've read of him. Clearly, at only 30 pages (as counted here), it's a pretty quick read. It's full of atmosphere and mystery, but I was a little disappointed by its sudden ending. I'm also not quite clear on why it needed the one-ended framing device of the men in the bar; maybe he had a page quota to fill.
Antreas Aristeidis
A classic -not so- horror story that illustrates what people are capable of for greed and fame and with a delightful twist in the end
Meg J.
Ah, now I remember why I disliked Treasure Island so much in 8th grade. Stevenson is NOT easy to read. Especially when it's a few pages here and there. :)

I think the premise was good, but I would've liked a little more to the plot of the story. I realize it's a short story, but it felt too short.
This book was about doctors who dissect humans, yet obtain the bodies from people who most often apparently murder them since the doctors pay them for the bodies. I got really confused in this book. The only spooky part was the last page, and it wasn't really that scary anyway.
This creepy classic about robbing graves is in the public domain, with a free electronic copy available here.
This is published separately, but it has more the feel of a short story than even a novella. It seemed very much to me like a Poe story, starting with an event in the present that prompts a character to tell the tale of something horrific that had happened in his past.
Here's a link to an e-text of the title story:

I think it's pretty scary. Stevenson is trying to scare us by showing the progression of someone's loss of morality. 90 per cent of this story is pure realism.
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Robert Louis (Balfour) Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of Neo-romanticism in English literature. He was greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling and Vladimir Nabokov.

Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular and did not write within their narrow definition of
More about Robert Louis Stevenson...
Treasure Island The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror Kidnapped (David Balfour, #1) A Child's Garden of Verses

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