Aline Ferreira

Gothic (Dis)Embodiments: Kureishi's The Body and Richard T. Kelly's The Possessions of Doctor Forrest

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Keywords: body-swapping, Gothic (dis)embodiments, posthuman body, uncanny, immortality body transplant

This essay examines the longstanding fantasy of body swapping, or in more contemporary terms, acquiring a new, younger body to replace the older, sick one through medical technologies. This ancient dream has clear Gothic overtones and can be inscribed in a line of continuity with other versions of Faustian pacts, such as Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (􀁽􀁛􀁛􀂓). I analyse Hanif Kureishi's The Body (􀂠􀂤􀂤􀂠) and Richard T. Kelly's The Possessions of Doctor Forrest (􀂠􀂤􀁽􀁽) as present-day instances of this age-old aspiration, re-envisioning Stevenson's body swapping Gothic fantasy with the tools of modern-day medicine, updating the fantasies for radically extended youth and longer life spans which recent developments in the biosciences suggest might gradually become true. A horror of the aged body permeates both novels, which crucially deal with older men who wish to recover their lost youth and vigour, while the Gothic motifs of the Doppelgänger and devilish pacts constitute recurring features.

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