February 14th. Pink and red hearts adorn greetings cards, chocolate boxes, teddy bears, bouquets, boxes of strawberries… and this blog. Let’s look at some books which feature actual hearts. Warning: it’s not for the faint-hearted.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard: This collection of five folk stories from the world of the Harry Potter books includes ‘The Warlock’s Hairy Heart’. This is a somewhat gruesome tale in the style of the original Brothers Grimm. The tragic story examines the negative effects of refusing to love and be loved.
Dracula: Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel has the villain stabbed in the heart. This is how to kill a vampire (and indeed anyone else), although the implement used does vary according to myth. The function of the heart is to pump blood around the body, transporting oxygen and nutrients while removing carbon dioxide and waste. Even Dracula can’t survive without this.
Pig Heart Boy: This children’s novel by Malorie Blackman is about a boy called Cameron who receives a heart transplant from a specially bred pig. The book is not only about the ethical side of this; Cameron’s best friend Marlon tells the media about the transplant, so the media storm and the damaged friendship are central to the story.
The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe: One of the horror master’s famous short stories is ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. The unnamed narrator has murdered a man and concealed the body under the floorboards. However, the murderer can hear the heartbeat, which evidences his guilt at the crime. If you haven’t read the story, you might have seen the parody of it in the Simpsons episode ‘Lisa’s Rival’.
Never Let Me Go: The premise of this dystopian novel by Kazuo Ishiguro is that clones exist to forcibly donate their organs. The last organs to be donated are the vital ones, after which the clone ‘completes’ (the euphemism for dying). A heartbreaking and thought-provoking book which questions what it means to be human.
Happy Valentine’s Day!