Poor Things is a novel written by Scottish author Alasdair Gray, first published in 1992. The premise of the novel revolves around a narrative that blends elements of science fiction, social satire, and metafiction. The story is set in late 19th-century Scotland and centers on the character of Bella Baxter, a young woman who is initially found dead in the Firth of Clyde but is brought back to life by the eccentric Dr. Archibald McCandless through a combination of surgery and galvanism (the use of electricity to stimulate muscle movement).
Bella, now resurrected and renamed Bella Caledonia, is unaware of her past life and begins a new existence under the care of Dr. McCandless. As the story unfolds, Bella becomes entangled in a web of political intrigue, social commentary, and personal drama. The novel explores themes such as identity, power dynamics, and the nature of humanity, all against the backdrop of Victorian Scotland.
One of the central themes of Poor Things is the role of science and technology in shaping human lives and society, as well as the ethical implications of scientific experimentation. Additionally, the novel incorporates elements of satire, humor, and literary pastiche, making it a rich and complex work that defies easy categorization.