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The Living Corpse

[North, William]. "The Living Corpse." Putnam's Monthly. 01 Jan. 1853: 32-39.
short fiction

The story's affluent and nameless narrator describes his insatiable desire to seek pleasure. He begins to dabble in substances that he believes will help him achieve a greater sense of enjoyment out of life, working his way from wine up to ether. At the conclusion of his ascent (or descent), the narrator proclaims "If there is truth in wine, in gas there is revelation." He concocts a “super gas” which would allow a user to experience extreme, unparalleled enjoyment. Unfortunately, it also ends the user's life. In an existential haze, the narrator and his wife Mira decide to live their lives on the gas. Mira dies and then the narrator becomes "a living corpse." After being reintroduced to "the common air of the sky," he grows incapable of receiving enjoyment from anything common.

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