Horror: A study on Clive Barker part 23, The Age of Desire.

Published by OJB in the blog OJB's blog. Views: 157

Welcome to part 23 of my Study on Clive Baker. Today, we will be looking at his short story 'The Age of Desire.'

The Age of desire is very much a mad scientist/Frankenstein story told from the POV of the monster and the cops that pursue him.

The 'monster' of this story is a man named Jerome, who is given a medical shot that turns his sex drive violent. The experiment causes his body to become inflamed in a fire-like sensation, destroys all his sexual preferences (he is willing to have sex with man, woman, animal, or in one-scene, a brick-wall,) and causes him to become murderous as the rapid beating of a heart is so seductive to him that he tears out the heart of his victims while he is raping them.

Jerome, however, is not an evil man and often laments over his actions and wonders how to keep himself under control. In essence, this story shows what happens when a man loses control of his sexual and violent desires.

An officer by the name of Carnegie pursues him for most of the story, and the story ends with the two meeting as Jerome is dying due to his injuries and the toll the drug has taken on his body. The ending scene is Jerome laughing at some private joke as he dies, and Carnegie wondering what the joke was.


This is a great story, and no summary I could ever write can do it justice. There are three great things that can be taken away from this story for all writers to use.

1. Jerome is an allegory for what happens when a man loses control of his sexual and violent urges, and the internal conflict of his mind (logic) vs. his flesh (desire) is such a classic battle that is great.

2. Fire/burning sensation is such universal symbol for sex and desire that any other element could never be used. Perhaps it is the skin on skin contact where body heat is transferred from one person to another that gives rise to this symbol, or perhaps because of an open flame has a seductive quality to it.

3. This being a rape story. Generally, I don't like rape stories; most writers use rape/molestation as a way to gain sympathy for their characters from the reader. I find this distasteful. However, this story attempts -rather it accomplishes will be up to the individual reader- for the reader to gain sympathy for the rapist, as his actions are caused by a drug that has been injected into him. We often find Jerome mourning his actions, and wondering what the hell they put into his body.

There is a lot more I can discuss about this story as it has a tone of philosophical conversations and has a 'Silence of the Lambs' vibe to it, but in the end, I feel this is a short story people should read.


This concludes my look at The Age of Desire. If you have a thought or a question, please leave a like or comment!

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