Britain, Vampire Empire: Fin-de-Siècle Fears and Bram Stoker’s Dracula
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One of the more important contributions to Dracula scholarship in recent years has been the examination of Bram Stoker’s bloodthirsty Count as a stereotypical Jewish figure. Although this reading has helped to elucidate both the specific nature of the vampire’s threat to fin-de-siècle England and the prevalent Christian thematics and iconography of Stoker’s novel, literary critics have failed to consider Count Dracula’s consanguineous connections with other characters within the Gothic literary tradition. Adapting Royce MacGillivray’s claim that Stoker created in Dracula ‘a myth comparable in vitality to that of the Wandering Jew, Faust, or Don Juan’ (518), I would maintain that while the aristocratic figure of Count Dracula uniquely combines all three figures, he represents the apogee in the development of the vampiric Wandering Jew in British Gothic literature. As Henry Ludlam’s 1962 biography of Stoker makes clear, the Wandering Jew had long haunted Stoker’s imagination. As supportive evidence, Ludlam cites Stoker’s lifelong friend, writer Hall Caine, the ‘Hommy-Beg’ to whom Dracula is dedicated. Thinking back over their attempts to fit Stoker’s boss, acclaimed actor Henry Irving, with a suitable dramatic role, Caine wrote, ‘I remember that most of our subjects dealt with the supernatural, and that the Wandering Jew, the Flying Dutchman and the Demon Lover were themes around which our imagination[s] constantly revolved’ (97).
KeywordsJewish Community Serial Killer Secret Society British Nation Imperial Power
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