Necrophiliac does not spend its time trying to shock you with scene after scene of over the top violence and depravity. Yet, he is a depraved character who does horribly disgusting and shocking things that are meant to make the reader squirm. There is not an over insistence that he is an evil character and deserves to be mocked and reviled. Nor is there the same instance that he is just misunderstood and one just needs to look beyond the facade that he has put up. Gabrielle Wittkop just carefully (almost stingily) gives out just enough details to make your own decision about him. I almost sympathized with Lucien, antiques dealer living in France. He wears all black, loves old things, and lives alone. No family. No friends. Just lots of money and time to do what he pleases, when he pleases.
Wittkop was somehow able to balance the macabre scenarios by including many tenderly written passages describing of his obvious affection and care toward the selection of his bodies, and the care that he takes while he is with them. He falls in love with them almost to the point of obsession and then quickly falls out of love when he realizes that his love cannot stop nature from allowing their bodies from decaying. Those bodies no longer offer him comfort so he dumps them for a fresher body. He does have one hauntingly familiar moment of rejection with a like-minded women towards the end of the story. This scene is so poignant as it is one of the final moments before his final and most tenuous grasp with reality abruptly ends.
What I love most about this story is that it offers no solid explanations as to why he does what he does. As the reader you are only allowed so much information about Damien and how he views the small and moldy world that he chooses to live in. His downward spiral is fascinating and somewhat inevitable, and I found myself on the proverbial edge of my seat wondering when (or if) he was going to be caught. Years of reading suspense thrillers and watching serial detective shows have conditioned me to know that guys like this get caught and end up doing time for their crimes. This is probably the first, and only story that made me hope that his fate was not the same as the others.
Translated for the first time into English, this masterpiece of French literature is striking, not only for its astonishing subject matter but for the poetic beauty of the late author’s subtle, intricate prose. As the haunting protagonist Lucien grapples with a taboo desire, the novel goes far beyond mere gothic horror to explore the melancholy in the loneliest depths of the human condition, forcing readers to confront their own mortality with an unprecedented intimacy. The Necrophiliac has become a cult classic in the 40 years since its original publication, one that is especially intriguing due to the insight it lends into the author's fascinatingly reclusive mind.