Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

In fantasy the dead may return in many ways – as Ghosts, Vampires or Zombies, or through Reincarnation – but the simplest process of return is a straightforward revivification by some magical or miraculous agency. The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of Christian faith, holding out a similar promise for everyone else at the Last Judgement. Fantasies dealing with New Testament Miracles or their aftermath include "Lazarus" (1906) by Leonid Andreyev, "Lazarus Returns" (1935) by Guy Endore and This Above All (1933) by M P Shiel; Jesus returns to perform similar favours in various works, including Gloria Victis (1897) by J A Mitchell (1845-1918). A satirical deflation of an apocryphal tale is "The Miracle of the Great St Nicolas" (1909) by Anatole France.

Most tales of resurrection by magical means are gruesome Horror after the fashion of one of the cautionary episodes in The Magic Mirror (coll 1866) by William Gilbert, "The Monkey's Paw" (1902) by W W Jacobs (1863-1943), "The Empire of the Necromancers" (1932) by Clark Ashton Smith and Pet Sematary (1983) by Stephen King. Technofantasies in which resurrection is accomplished, as in imitation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), generally take an equally gloomy view; examples include "A Thousand Deaths" (1899) by Jack London and Frankenstein's Bride (1995) by Hilary Bailey (1936-    ). Returnees from the dead often discover, like Tennyson's Enoch Arden (who was of course only believed dead), that life has progressed without them to a stage where no viable readmission is possible; examples include "The Man who Returned" (1934) by Edmond Hamilton (1904-1977). There is usually a penalty to be paid even in moral fantasies which sanction resurrection as a reward, as in The Demon Lover (1927) by Dion Fortune. Happier resurrections are, however, often featured in tales of revivified Mummies. Genuine "second chances" in life are rarely offered as gifts, but one exception is The Strange Friend of Tito Gil (1852) by Pedro de Alarcón (1833-1891). [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.