Title

Like Clockwork: French Automatons in Life and Literature

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-7-2019

Publication Title

Studies in the Fantastic

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1353/sif.2018.0001

ISSN

2470-3486

Abstract

Even though automatons have roots dating back to Greek mythology, it is not until the Enlightenment in Europe that these man-like machines start to move into public spaces and are put on display for all to see. Their presence demonstrates a renewed interest in a desire to emulate human (or animal)-like motion, and this desire continued from the eighteenth into the nineteenth century, permeating beyond philosophical debate into true creations capable of mimicking human life. This essay examines a selection of authentic historical automatons as well as literary counterparts, arguing that these machines are evidence of an object-oriented ontology that finds a foothold within fantastic narratives. The primary text discussed here is Paul Féval's La Ville-vampire, a novel that presents supernatural human-like vampires that have mechanical attributes related to the astrological clock found within the Strasbourg Cathedral.

Comments

Copyright belongs to University of Tampa Press

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