The soul of the matter
Frankenstein meets H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘Herbert West – Reanimator’
in Adapting Frankenstein
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In the contexts of Gothic texts as ‘corpse producing machines’ and the new post-humanist understandings of the significance of objects, commodities, and things, this essay explores Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and H.P. Lovecraft’s campy ‘Herbert West – Reanimator’ in terms of the way some bodies have always been closer to death and to thing-hood than others. It further prompts a question ignored in Frankenstein – do West’s mindlessly cannibalistic reanimated zombies have souls? According to Lovecraft’s infamous racist screed, West’s reanimations are alive only in the sense that the inhabitants of the New York slums are alive. Hence, both stories demonstrate that some bodies are considered more alive – less thing-like – than others, complicating the posthumanist ‘democracy of objects’ perspective.

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