Cannibalism is a theme that has featured prominently throughout literature, and despite being sickening, it is also quite fascinating. I first started thinking about this a few weeks ago when watching one of my all-time favourite TV programmes, 'Bones'. In the third season, a cannibalistic serial killer known by the team working at the Jeffersonian Institute as 'gormagon' is introduced, provide several directions for plot development.
There are more contemporary pieces of literary work in which cannibalism is a feature: Robinson Crusoe, The Lost Boys for example. Does the scene in Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King where Gollum/Smeagul bites off Frodo's finger count?
You Are What You Eat
In 2003 the BBC published a story covering the trial of a German computer Programmer, Armin Meiwes, who allegedly murdered and ate a man who had volunteered to be eaten via an internet advertisement. Mr Meiwes had had fantasies of eating fellow classmates whilst at school, no doubt fuelled by violent horror films. According to court records, the victim went to Mr Meiwes' house and agreed to have his penis cut off. The pair cooked and ate this together, before Mr Meiwes killed the man.
German Industrial Metal band 'Rammstein' wrote a song called 'Mein Teil' based on the events. The song was popular throughout Germany, and it's status was boosted when it was nicknamed 'the cannibalism song'. Lead singer Till Lindemann agrees that cannibalism is fascinating whilst at the same time disturbing, saying, "It's so sick that it becomes fascinating and there just has to be a song about it", in explanation as to why the song was written.
For any who are interested, here is a video of the song. Somebody has helpfully provided and English translation of the lyrics:
Rock music aside, one of the most memorable instances of cannibalism in literature for me, appears in the BBC adaptation of The Silver Chair, written originally as part of the Narnia Series by C.S.Lewis. Jill Pole stumbles upon a recipe for 'Man Pie'. Or some such dish, and finally the realisation dawns upon her that she and Eustace have been tricked into staying with 'friendly giants' who in fact intend to cook and eat them as part of their feast.
I'll leave you with a video clip from Tim Burton's musical adaptation of The Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring Johnny Depp as Sweene Todd. Such a fun song to sing in the kitchen!