Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Elixir of Life

One of the two traditional goals of Alchemy; the term has broadened out to encompass any draught which extends life or protracts youth. The quest to obtain it is often frustrated, as in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's A Strange Story (1861), Nathaniel Hawthorne's unfinished Septimius (1872) and Alexander de Comeau's Monk's Magic (1931).

Even when successful, it rarely satisfies the optimistic expectations of the seekers. The many negative wish-fulfilment fantasies involving the EOL include William Godwin's St Leon (1799), Honoré de Balzac's "The Elixir of Life" (1830), Mary Shelley's "The Mortal Immortal" (1834), Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Dr Heidegger's Experiment" (1837), W Harrison Ainsworth's unfinished Auriol (1850), Richard Garnett's "The Elixir of Life" (1881), S B Alexander's "The Living Dead" (1887), E Nesbit's Dormant (1911), George Allan England's "The Elixir of Hate" (1911), Claude Farrère's The House of the Secret (1923), Frederick Carter's "The Skeleton" (1935) and Neil Bell's "Mr Albert Finkleman" (1953). [BS]

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.