86 minutes | Mar 31, 2021

Episode 95: Demon Seed: On Doris Lessing's 'The Fifth Child'

Doris Lessing's uncategorizable oeuvre reached strange new heights in 1988 with the publication of her short novel The Fifth Child. The story couldn't be simpler. In the England of the 1970s, a couple determined to live out a dream that many of their generation have rejected -- the big family in the old house with the pretty garden -- conceive a child that may or may not be human. From that moment on, the boy, their fifth, becomes the alien force that will tear their dream to pieces. Profoundly ambiguous and unsettling, The Fifth Child is a weird novel that raises questions about parenthood, family, and the impenetrable depths of nature. Header Image: The Changeling by Henry Fuseli (1780) Additional music: "Fast Bossa Nova: Falling Stars" by Dee Yan-Key REFERENCES Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child Doris Lessing, Shikasta M. R. James, weird fiction author Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire Weird Studies, Episode 67 on “Hellier” Victoria Nelson, The Secret Life of Puppets David Icke, conspiracy theorist Deros, underground beings from the fiction of Richard Sharpe Shaver Hieronymus Bosch, Dutch Renaissance painter Weird Studies, Episode 86 on “The Sandman” Slavoj Žižek, The Puppet and the Dwarf Louis Sass, “The Land of Unreality: On the Phenomenology of the Schizophrenic Break” Louis Sass, Madness and Modernism Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life Richard Thorpe (dir.), The Wizard of Oz Frank L. Baum, The Wizard of Oz Weird Studies, bonus episode on Adventure Time James Hillman, The Soul’s Code Doris Lessing, Ben in the World Roman Pulanski (dir.), Rosemary’s Baby Richard Donner (dir.), The Omen Donald Cammell (dir.), Demon Seed
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