Abhuman is a term used to distinguish a separation from normal human existence. This is different from inhuman, which typically connotes an ethical or moral separation from others.
The term was used by William Hope Hodgson in his novel The Night Land and his Carnacki stories. Similar concepts, although not the term itself, also appear in the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, and Bram Stoker among other notable modernist American and British authors.
In literary studies of Gothic fiction, abhuman refers to a "Gothic body" or something that is only vestigially human and possibly in the process of becoming something monstrous, such as a vampire or werewolf. Kelly Hurley writes that the "abhuman subject is a not-quite-human subject, characterized by its morphic variability, continually in danger of becoming not-itself, becoming other."
Allan Lloyd Smith writes that among "the sources of abhuman Gothic horror for many writers at this time were the urban squalor and misery of overcrowded cities..."
- Claire Valier, Crime and Punishment in Contemporary Culture page 121 (Routledge, 2004), .
- Kelly Hurley, The Gothic Body: Sexuality, Materialism, and Degeneration at the Fin de Siècle (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 168.
- Roger Luckhurst, The Invention of Telepathy: 1870-1901 page 188 (Oxford University Press, 2002).
- Jerrold E. Hogle, The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction page 190 (Cambridge University Press, 2002).
- Peter Day, Vampires: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil page 22 (Rodopi, 2006).
- Chantal Bourgault Du Coudray, The Curse of the Werewolf: Fantasy, Horror and the Beast Within page 132 (I.B.Tauris, 2006).
- Kelly Hurley, The Gothic Body: Sexuality, Materialism, and Degeneration at the Fin de Siècle (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 3. This quotation also appears in Robert Eaglestone, Reading The Lord of the Rings: New Writings on Tolkien's Classic page 55 (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006).
- Allan Lloyd Smith, American Gothic Fiction: An Introduction page 114 (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004).