Thomas Harris isn't a prolific writer; however, he only had to write five books to become one of the most prominent authors of crime and horror genres. He gained this position and recognition for his perverse stories. He's the author of the most famous anthropophagous in film and literature: Doctor Hannibal Lecter, protagonists of the books Red Dragon, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising, and The Silence of the Lambs.
"–Be very careful with Hannibal Lecter. Dr. Chilton at the asylum will go over all the physical procedures used with him. Do not deviate from them for any reason whatsoever. And you're to tell him nothing personal, Starling. Believe me, you don't want Hannibal Lecter inside your head. Just do your job, but never forget what he is.
–And what is that?
–Oh, he's a monster. Pure psychopath."
Doctor Lecter is capable of introducing himself into the deepest corners of people's psyche to manipulate them at his convenience. His huge appetite for human flesh is proportional to his enormous intelligence and his killer instinct.
The tradition of anthropophagy, or cannibalism, has been represented in literature for a long time. Here are eight stories that will leave a pleasant taste in your mouth. Bon appétit.
“Girl from Mars” (Robert Bloch)
Bloch was one of the pillars of the horror genre in the United States. This short story, that takes place in a fair of human curiosities, shows the macabre style and humor of the author. What happens when a hungry stranger meets the owner of the fair? This story is a delicious literary delicacy you'll love.
This is perhaps, the most peculiar short story by the master of cosmic horror. He abandons his usual monsters and deities from outer space and centers his narration on an earthly level. This story tells the encounter between an innocent traveler and a bizarre old man who has developed some very peculiar culinary inclinations. The reason? A book that contains a painting about a terrible cannibalistic event.
“The Repentant Cannibal” (Giovanni Papini)
Could a cannibal repent from his actions? In his book Gog, Papini introduces the story of an old man who belongs to an African tribe. He's spent all his life eating the flesh of his human preys. Now, the man wished he hadn't done it because the souls of his victims are now tormenting him.
“Hansel and Gretel” (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm)
This children's classic is a terrifying story about two boys that meet a creepy old lady who enjoys cooking children. They arrive at a house made of sweet bread and candies, but this setting only adds darkness to the story of these abandoned children who are lured into a sinister place.
This is one of Stephen Kings' most horrifying stories belonging to a volume of short stories called Skeleton Crew. It tells the story of a doctor who survives an accident but ends up being a castaway on an island. Once the food supply is over, and despair and hunger overwhelm him, the last resource he'll have is to taste the flavor of his own flesh.
“Cannibalism in the Cars” (Mark Twain)
Twain puts his characters in an extreme situation: a train of passengers wrecks in the middle of nowhere, deprived of the possibility of leaving the train. The passengers agree that they will devour one of them to avoid dying from starvation. Who's going to be the chosen one of this sick proposition made by a group of desperate men and women?
This is an essential narration written by a fascinating Mexican writer. The narrator of the story is a regular man until he starts having an unusual craving for human meat. First, he feels the need to consume large amounts of animal meat but soon gravitates towards human flesh. It's a brilliant and dark story that creates an amazing atmosphere for those horror literature lovers.
“A Madman's Diary” Lu Xun
A weird, terrifying, and mind-blowing narration, this is probably the best anthropophagy and paranoia story of literature. A man is constantly afraid of being devoured. He walks through the streets always aware of people's reactions and words, living in constant fear of becoming his neighbors' or even his brother's feast.
Did you enjoy these appetizers? If you did, go to your nearest bookstore and find the complete pieces to satiate your literary appetite. Books are magical gates that can transport us to other dimensions, since they offer a wide universe of themes and stories that are always surprising and sinister, like cannibalism.
The photographs illustrating this article belong to Joshua Hoffine.
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards