The Resurrectionist


The Resurrectionist, by E.B. Hudspeth, is a false document. That is, a story claims to be a biography of fictional character. In this case, Dr. Spencer Black.

Dr. Black’s father was a famous resurrectionist, that is, grave robber. He and his sons would venture to fresh graves and dig up corpses for use in anatomy lessons and such.

With time, the young Spencer Black would engage on his own medical career in the late 1800s. At first he became famous for fixing anomalies and birth defects. But, soon, he started thinking that some of these abnormalities were latent genetical traits trying to come back to the surface. For example, the doctor believed that a person that was born without arms was made that way because their body was trying to grow wings.

He then tries to create fantastical creatures by grafting pieces of existing creatures together and shows them off in an entirely macbre travelling show.

While fiction, this book totally seems plausible as the late 1800s was the time when strange touring shows tested the public’s imagination and sense of propriety. The book even pays homage to the famous Ripley of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in mentioning that Dr. Black came across an obviously faked specimen of a monkey’s head grafted to a fish’s body, purported to be some kind of tropical mermaid.

Once the biography is done, the rest of the book is Dr. Black’s unpublished master work, The Codex Extinct Animalia, which is an anatomical guide to various taxonomies of legendary creatures with commentary, such as stating that the minotaur is a creature with the worst possible traits of two animals, with none of gifts that the full bodies of those animals would provide. It has a human body with the head of a bull. It does not have a human mind to use the human body, and it doesn’t have a bull’s body to make use of its ability to charge or its strength.

It’s an awesomely macabre story as told via biography. Quite often I found myself wanting to hit up Wikipedia and read more about Dr. Black.


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