An Interview with Herbert West

The following interview with Dr. Herbert West might have taken place in the spring of 1923.

Q: Dr. West, what brought you into the medical profession?

A: Death. My mother and twin brother died when I was a child. Since then death has been my adversary.

Q: How do you oppose death?

A: With science. It’s the only way. What else would you suggest, Miss___?

Q: Some would say that prayer —

A: [Laughter] Prayer! Surely you don’t envision me as a man of the cloth? [More laughter].

Q: No, not at all, Dr. West. Tell me, please, where were you educated?

A: Here in Arkham, at Miskatonic University. I received both my undergraduate and medical degrees here.

Q: So you are acquainted with the Dean of Medicine, Dr. Allan Halsey?

A; I am, unfortunately.

Q: Unfortunately? I understand that Dr. Halsey is well thought of in medical circles.

A: He can be charming. All deans should be charming, but it takes more than charm to be a competent physician.

Q: What qualities do you think are essential in a physician?

A: Fearlessness. Willingness to risk all for science. Perhaps a certain ruthlessness.

Q: Ruthlessness — did you learn that in medical school?

A: [Smiles] Perhaps I did not need to learn it. But I will remind you that I was a surgeon in the recent war.

Q: Yes, will you tell me a little about your war experiences?

A: I could tell you a great deal. More than you would ever wish to know. I will say only that for me, the War was a great laboratory.

Q: So it’s true that you have done experiments on humans?

A: Many times.

Q: Can you tell me — ?

A: I can, but I won’t. Patient confidentiality, you understand. [Smiles]

Q: Some people have called your achievements miraculous. What do you think of that?

A: Nothing is “miraculous.” It only seems so to the ignorant.

Q: And there are others who call your approach unethical.

A: I put “unethical” in the same category as “miraculous.”

Q: Dr. West, do you think that it is possible to achieve immortality? Of the body, I mean.

A: Bodily immortality is the only sort I acknowledge. Achievable? Yes, by all means.

Q: You sound so certain, almost as though you have already done it.

A: Miss ___, I think this interview is now finished. But I will say one more thing — Miskatonic University is not a milieu that favours the unorthodox. Have I answered your question?

Q: Not altogether.

A: Quite.

Q: Thank you for your time, Dr. West.

Read more about Herbert West in my novel, The Friendship of Mortals, available at: