Like Clockwork: French Automatons in Life and Literature
Studies in the Fantastic
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.
Holley, William B..
"Like Clockwork: French Automatons in Life and Literature."
Studies in the Fantastic, 6: 22-38 Tampa, FL: University of Tampa Press.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1353/sif.2018.0001 source: https://doi.org/10.1353/sif.2018.0001