Adventures in Malley Country: Concerning Peter Carey's My Life as a Fake

Ross Chambers

Abstract

Contemporary anxieties around cloning and genetic modification have deep roots in a nineteenth- and twentieth-century tradition of narrative thought-experiments about the artificial reproduction of human life. In the ‘strange wickedness’ to which HG Wells’s narrator refers—as good a condensation of the tradition’s topic as any—strangeness has always been as prominent as wickedness. In that tradition the myths of Prometheus and Faust, of the golem and the doppelgänger, together with fables and fictions concerning automata and scientifically produced monsters and/or reflections on the real and the illusory, have con- verged to define a problematics of the sorcerer’s apprentice. We will see that such a problematics reflects a powerful fear of artifice, or more accurately a phobia: a fear of artifice as great as the attraction it also exerts.

Keywords

Cloning; genetic modification; literature; artifice; Peter Carey

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