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Related: corpse - necro- - paraphilia - death

unidentified illustration of the exploits of Sergeant Bertrand
Image sourced here.

Desiring the Dead: Necrophilia and Nineteenth-Century French Literature (2003) - Lisa Downing [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


--American Heritage Dictionary


Necrophilia is a paraphilia characterized by a sexual attraction to corpses. This has been a charactistic of several serial killers, notably Ed Gein, though it is very rare even in that context. There have been numerous cases of necrophiles working in the funeral business, as it provides them with easy access to corpses.

In California, there were laws against mutilating a corpse or digging it out of a grave, but not against having sex with it. However, this changed on September 10, 2004, when Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill making necrophilic acts a felony punishable by up to eight years in prison.

In Colorado it might be covered by the misdemeanor "treats the body or remains of any person in a way that would outrage normal family sensibilities" (Colorado Statutes/Title 18 Criminal Code/Article 13 Miscellaneous Offenses/18-13-101. Abuse Of A Corpse).

Similarly in Alabama, where it was considered that sexual acts with a body may constitute "abuse of a corpse", but not rape.

In the United Kingdom, sexual penetration of a corpse was banned with the new Sexual Offences Act 2003, which makes it punishable by up to two years in prison. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necrophilia [Oct 2004]

Sergeant Bertrand

One of the most remarkable cases of necrophilia on record concerns a French army sergeant named Bertrand. Sergeant Bertrand was by no means a withdrawn or shy personality; on the contrary, he was well-liked by his men, and something of a Don Juan with the country girls. His arrest in 1849 came as a shock to his army comrades, for it was alleged, and proved at his trial, that for the past two years he had been in the habit of entering cemeteries at night and seeking out the newly-buried bodies of young girls. These corpses, usually buried without coffins, excited him more than living mistresses. Of the corpse of a 16-year-old girl he said: "I did everything to her that a passionate lover does to a mistress," and added, "All my enjoyment with living women is as nothing compared to it." On the first occasion when he saw an unburied corpse in a grave, he was so overcome with frenzy that he leapt into the grave and proceeded to beat it with a spade. Later, he returned, dug it up, and committed acts of necrophia. The compulsion was so powerful that he once swam an icy stream in winter to get into a graveyard. He usually ended by disembowelling the corpse. --via Morbid Fact du Jour via The Mammoth Book Of The History Of Murder
“Listen to this: a soldier who had lost a great deal of blood was recently found at the gates of the Val-de-Grâce hospice, where he had managed to drag himself. The wounded man, one Sergeant François Bertrand, of the 74th line regiment, initially declared that he had been hit by a volley of bullets on his way back to his quarters after a night of carousing in a tavern at the Barrière d’Enfer. He claimed he had been unable to distinguish the source of the rifle fire. But, skilfully interrogated by the physician who had removed the slugs from a large number of wounds in his flesh, made by several different projectiles of unequal size, Bertrand finally changed his story. He admitted he had fallen into the trap that had been set inside Montparnasse Cemetery, for he was in the habit of sneaking in almost nightly to search fresh graves. Luckily, he said nothing of the other soldier who was also there that night... in a lifeless state, it is true. No doubt, he did not notice him. That’s a stroke of luck.” The Chevalier Dupin by Gérard Dôle via http://mapage.noos.fr/chevalierdupin/sergeantbertrand/sergeantbertrand.htm [Feb 2006]

The Loved One (1965) - Tony Richardson

  1. The Loved One (1965) - Tony Richardson [Amazon US]
    Brilliant. Disturbing. Perplexing. Hilarious. Neglected.
    Screenwriter Terry Southern (with the equally brilliant Christopher Isherwood) are the true stars here, having drafted and crafted a movie that's both truly disturbing and hilarious. One of Southern's finest film scripts (a worthy equal to his Dr Strangelove and Easy Rider scripts), The Loved One is an unjustly ignored and forgotten gem from a time when smart comedies were not only critically lauded but publically applauded.

The Loved One (1947) - Evelyn Waugh

  1. The Loved One (1947) - Evelyn Waugh [Amazon US]
    The Loved One is an odd little story about a love triangle among people who are unusually comfortable handling dead things. Dennis, a poet/pet mortician, is not entirely forthcoming about his occupation with Aimée Thanatogenos lest she, as a beautician of human cadavers, despise him for it. Aimée, for her part, is torn between her attraction to Dennis and her respect for Mr. Joyboy, who is what passes for a stud among morticians. Joyboy courts Aimée by manipulating into smiles the faces of the corpses he works on that are headed for her cubicle.

    Waugh's macabre novella pokes fun at the ceremonial nonsense with which we shroud death, packaging that manages to render the inevitable obscene. It's amusing, if not a "wickedly funny" satire as promised in the blurbs, and would perhaps be more successfully humorous on film. -- bk_mom for amazon.com

Desiring the Dead: Necrophilia and Nineteenth-Century French Literature (2003) - Lisa Downing

In the 19th century, literature shared with the medical and psychological sciences a strategy of examining the most extreme manifestations of human desire. While fetishism, sadism and masochism still resonate as concepts with critical currency, necrophilia has received little attention. In this groundbreaking study, Lisa Downing rescues necrophilia from the margins of sexual desire, relocating it as a symptom and a pervasive fantasy of modern subjectivity. Drawing case material from the 19th century French canon, the author brings works by Baudelaire and Rachilde into dialogue with foundational European texts of sexology and Psychoanalysis. She reads against the grain of traditional Freudian theories of sexuality, the conventions of 19th century literary scholarship, and feminist critiques of the 'masculine' morbid aesthetic in order to bring to light a model of desire whose problematic nature afflicts existing discourses about sexuality and gender in 19th century France and beyond. --from the publisher

See also: 1800s literature - French literature - desire - death - necrophilia

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) - Riccardo Freda

Barbara Steele in The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) - Riccardo Freda
image sourced here. [Aug 2005]

The outrageous central concern of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock has never been considered appropriate material for any film openly advertised and exhibited to the public, horror or otherwise. That a film about the frustrated passions of a necrophiliac could even be released in 1962 is a censorial mystery in its own right--or, perhaps a clear testament to the way horror films were officially ignored on every cultural level back then1. Did censors perhaps not know what was going on? Did they bother to even watch the film? --Glenn Erickson via http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue05/infocus/hichcock.htm [Aug 2005]

see also: 1962 - Barbara Steele - Riccardo Freda - Italian cinema

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