Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Dance of Death

The medieval millennial notion – also known as the danse macabre – of skeletal Death leading the doomed in a processional dance to the grave, as depicted in French and German paintings and woodcuts since about 1424. Hans Holbein (?1497-1543) drew a famous DOD sequence in 1523-1526. This image informs Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" (1842) – filmed at least twice as The Masque of the Red Death – and Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1956). It is often adapted, as in Peter S Beagle's "Come, Lady Death" (1963), whose Death is a sought-after female dancing partner, and Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man (1991), where Death sweeps the aged Miss Flitworth into a wild rustic folkdance. [JH/DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.