Zombie flu: How the 1919 influenza pandemic fueled the rise of the living dead


Unknown‘One hundred years ago, 1919 saw the end of one of the worst plagues in human history: the deadly 1918–1919 influenza pandemic. The pandemic was a true horror show, with 50–100 million people dying and millions more infected. The United States alone lost more people in the pandemic than it lost in all the 20th- and 21st-century wars, combined.

This was no ordinary flu virus: It killed young adults in high numbers, and it came with grisly side effects, like massive bleeding from the nose, mouth and ears. It could damage the nervous and respiratory systems and could cause violent derangement, delirium and – in its aftermath – profound lethargy and suicidal depression.

The pandemic turned communities into haunted landscapes. Coffins ran out as bodies piled up everywhere. Stores, theaters and schools were closed, and wagons were pulled through the streets to collect corpses. Funerals were often impossible to organize, and across the country, mass graves were dug to accommodate the many dead.

A literature professor, I have written about the flu’s surprising connection to zombies, spiritualism and poems like T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” in my new book, “Viral Modernism: The Influenza Pandemic and Interwar Literature.”…’

Via The Conversation

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