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The Necrophiliac

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,392 ratings  ·  191 reviews
For more than three decades, Lucien — one of the most notorious characters in the history of the novel — has haunted the imaginations of readers around the world.  Remarkably, the astounding protagonist of Gabrielle Wittkop’s lyrical 1972 novella, The Necrophiliac, has never appeared in English until now.   This new translation introduces readers to a masterpiece of French ...more
Paperback, 91 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by ECW Press (first published 1972)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Dec 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Last Christmas I decided I was going to buy my mother some books. She has always been a reader, but I had never really taken any notice of what exactly she read. So as the end of December approached I steered one of our conversations towards literature, and was surprised to discover that she likes ‘the nastiest’ thrillers, featuring ‘gruesome, stomach-churning murders.’ I suggested a couple of titles, ones that I own, which, as I don’t enjoy nastiness myself, are admittedly PG13 in terms of cont ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing

This story is brought to you by the letter "B," for "Bombyx."


B is for Bombyx.


Sam Quixote
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Lucien is an antique dealer, a French gentleman, and a necrophiliac. The book is told from the first person perspective in diary form as we follow Lucien’s dark adventures robbing graves and taking back the recently interred back to his home where his actions with them are described in unflinching detail.

There isn’t much else to the story – the types of dead people changes such as going from a young woman, to an older woman, to a man, to a child, and to a mother and her baby. Each encounter is
Nate D
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Nate D by: Lily
The journals of an erudite and cultured connoisseur of the pleasures dead flesh. A well-spoken monster, perhaps. The real feat here, in this singular entry into the canon of the transgressive French novel, is Gabrielle Wittkop's ability to entirely withhold judgement. There's no reckoning here, no moral, no strong narrative, not even any real attempt to psychoanalyze, compartmentalize, or explain away what is taking place: just the uneasily not-even-really-always-that-repulsive musings of a man ...more
Anita Dalton
The Necrophiliac covers new ground for me. Though there are details in this book that lend themselves well to readers looking for a nasty wallow, this is, at its core, a romantic book about doomed love. Lucien, the narrator and diarist, is less interested in decay but it does not deter him. He is a romantic necrophile, genuinely drawn to specific dead people. He has no sexual or age preference, rather concentrating on specific people who are compelling to him. His relationships are, by the natur ...more
Monica Carter
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Suzanne, my beautiful Lily the joy of my soul and of my flesh, had started to marbeleise with violet patches. I multiplied the bags of ice. I had wanted to keep Suzanne forever. I kept her for almost two weeks, barely sleeping, feeding myself with what I found in the fridge, drinking too much at times. The tick-tock of the pendulums, the creaking of the woodwork had adopted a particular quality, just like each time Death is present. She is the great mathematician who gives the exact value to th
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
The story centers around a necrophiliac and his lovers that he brings from the cemeteries. His love for them is uncompromising and inconsiderate. Naturally, the story is absurd, bizarre, repulsive and desecrating. But, at the same time, it's beautiful, describing a sublime element in something horrible. An expressive prose flows wonderfully and as a matter of fact the choice of description liberates it from being vulgar.

The author describes the necrophiliac as between two worlds. He would like t
The Bookclectic
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-novellas
This book was beautiful, morbid, poetic, gross, and definitely not for the faint of heart. I went in completely blind. Because the synopsis compared this book to Poe and Baudelaire, I expected murder and a slow and subtly disturbing ambiance. I also assumed the title was a metaphor. I was mistaken. By the end of the second paragraph I was thoroughly shocked, and I paused to consider whether or not I wanted to continue reading. I did.

This author is kind of brilliant in my opinion. She imagines th
Matthew Moon
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
It's a kind of masculine bravado that stretches a narrative to fill a larger container than it requires. Gabrielle Wittkop introduces her character, seduces the reader, subjects them to a flurry of wild, new (I would hope) experiences . . . and she does it all with extreme brevity (the book is under 100 pages.)

We're presented with the diary of Lucien, an antique dealer whose sexual orientation encompasses only the dead. What type of genitals his "partners" own, how old they were when they were
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a deeply disturbing book written in diary form that follows Lucien as he meets his needs and desires, needs and desires that only the dead can fulfill. Each entry is written in disturbing detail but with a loving, romantic and delicate feel that balances out the feelings of horror and disgust that his actions provoke. Although this is only a novella, it would've lost a lot of it's impact if it had been any longer and it packs a lot into these 90 odd pages. The only flaw in the whole thin ...more
Caroline Smith
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a volume of pure poetry. From the get go the narrator, Lucien, writes in his diary of his indulgence in necrophilia, whether he's based in France or Italy. The way Wittkop depicts such a strange fetish is a real treat to read if you're into gothicism or macabre things. The morbid nature of the book sucks you in, and when I began the book, I finished it too soon. It's a very quick read, only 90 or so pages, and I completed it within an hour or two. The book is a dark gem among mortal ...more
Ah, a solid 5/5. Poetic and vivd
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I never read funny books, I should change that.
Missy (myweereads)
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Suddenly, I saw my face in the rearview mirror inundated with tears.”

The Necrophiliac by Gabrielle Wittkop, translated from french by Don Bapst. The title of this novella says it all. It’s written in the form of a diary belonging to a man called Lucien. He is an antique collector with a dark hobby. He has robbed graves for many years seeking pleasure to feed his obsession.

The reader experiences his highs and lows throughout his diary. It spans over several months recounting some of his most int
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Normalcy. We aspire to it. It’s the safe thing to be. Everyone wants to be normal, don’t they? But there’s a loophole, a get-out clause: Normal for me. It allows us a bit of wriggle room. Few of us talk about what turns us on. But we all have quirks, little things that help along the way like Woody Allen’s character in Play It Again, Sam who thinks of baseball players whist making love:
Allan: It keeps me going.
Linda: I couldn’t figure out why you kept yelling "slide".
The list of paraphilas is n
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Literary genius or disgusting filth? This short, French novel from the 1970's, considered a cult classic, walks a very fine line between both. You are taken into the world of a necrophiliac through his diary pages, and are confronted with both his madness and humanity in a nothing held back kind of way. I would never recommend this, and am extremely happy it was mercifully short (only about 90 pages or so). Yet, I can see the genius of it, and it did make me think.

Because I read absolutely anyt
Apr 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: novella, noir
I mean.....
The title does not lie.
Ok.... let's see. Putting the subject matter aside, the writing is fairly beautiful. The author is a little too in love with the word bombyx, overusing it to an annoying degree. I admit I had to look that one up, along with several other words used (deliquescence and others), but I actually enjoy a book that challenges and expands my vocabulary.

The author describes the sex acts in subtle language, but is pretty graphic about the character's.... lovers? victims
DeAnna Knippling
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Lolita of dead people...?

I'm not sure how to take this one, although it clearly transcended itself, so I'll give it five stars. Beautifully written, even in translation, so vivid that you can't escape what you're reading. Mercifully short. Perversely funny.

I've read 120 Days of Sodom; that was trash compared to this. Read both books for the same gothic & macabre reading list.

Can't actually recommend this for anybody. Too pretty for the extremist horror crowd, too vivid and disgusting for the
Joey B.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting trip through the inner dialog of a rapist...of the dead.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, france, dutch, women
A novella which caused quite the scandal in the seventies - unsurprisingly, since it's about necrophilia and is rather graphic. The few interesting thoughts on the subject are, sadly, buried under an avalanche of passages that seem intent on shocking without further justification. The descriptions are often gruesomely poetic, but there was really no need to involve dead babies and dwarves.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sex is spoken of in all forms except one. Necrophilia isn’t tolerated by governments nor approved by questioning youth. 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?

I’d say no, because every is too broad a requirement. But some gap
Iľja Rákoš
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
When presented with the opportunity to use both the word "nauseating" and "lyrical" to describe the same book, it's time to cash in on that. Gabrielle Wittkop's astounding boutique of the macabre goes well beyond contemporary art's banal dedication to "shocking the audience into awareness" - an approach which, more often than not, results in "boring the audience to tears". No, this is experimental literature operating at a far greater depth.

The author paints for us a Parisian man, Lucien, who -
Vadim Barison
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Despite a pretty strange topic and plot, it is extremely poetic and romantic book for one evening. Descriptions are so emotional and beautiful, that you start thinking that we "ordinary" people do not have such emotional relationships, such passion in our lives.
Book is full of sensual sexuality and dignified experience of disgusting moments.

I'm sure not all who read it can enjoy it, as still, book is about a freak.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This novella is a tough one to rate as the subject matter is very disturbing (obviously) but the way it’s written is surprisingly beautiful. The author has a poetic way of making these despicable acts seem less horrid with the way she writes. The storyline reminded me a lot of Perfume by Patrick Suskind. Difficult to read because it’s just “icky” but somehow you can’t stop. It’s like an exquisite train wreck.
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A book that would have excited Baudelaire. The prose is beautiful, maybe even elevating; however,the images and the content are perverse. After finishing the book, I immediately thought about taking it and reading it again.
Hannah Hester
Feb 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Honestly I don't know why I'm surprised by this, but....ew. Even if the writing in a book is stylistically good (which is true for this novella), it does not excuse bad content written solely for the sake of shocking the reader. Perhaps if there had been even the faintest glimmer of character development, it might have been different, but as it stands....ew.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, hoopla
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
First taste of Gabrielle Wittkops beautifully dark writing, and I will definitely be reading more.
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The final entries perfected everything
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5! Disturbing, yet beautifully written. Poetically macabre. I removed a half star for overuse of the word 'bombyx'.
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Gabrielle Wittkop (née Menardeau) (1920-2002) was a French writer. She was born in Nantes. She married Justus Wittkop, a Nazi deserter, in Paris and moved with him to Germany in 1946 after the end of the Second World War.

Her first book, on the German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann was published in German in 1966. Her first novel Le Necrophile (The Necrophiliac, 1972) was published in 1972 by Régine Desfor

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“For fourteen days, I was unspeakably happy. Unspeakably but not absolutely because, for me, joy never comes without the grief of knowing it is only ephemeral. All happiness carries with it the seed of its own end.” 11 likes
“My tailor - a tailor who maintains the devoted manners of a bygone era and who speaks to me in the third person - finally couldn't prevent himself from suggesting a less morose wardrobe for me. "For however elegant, black is sad." And so it's the colour that suits me, for I am also sad.” 5 likes
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