Issue 9: Vampires: Consuming Monsters and Monstrous Consumption. Brooke Cameron, Suyin Olguin, and Ian M. Clark, Editors
The novel Makanna, or the Land of the Savage (1834) is noteworthy as one of the first colonial novels written about Africa in English. An aspect of this novel that has eluded critical attention until now has been its Gothic content, in particular a vampiric revenant who appears in a dream of one of the heroes. This brief article describes this phantom as an early example of a non-aristocratic vampire. The article shows how the text calls for a psychological explanation of the vampire, and uses it to express certain white, middle class anxieties, chiefly related to sexual relationships. The text also stresses a link between vampirism and greed which became increasingly important in subsequent vampire literature.
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Le Vampire (March to April 1831), a short-lived journal dedicated to exposing the vices of gambling houses, the lottery and the stock market from the beginnings of the July Monarchy, uses the image of the vampire as financial predator and beguiling Proteus to personify the ills of all three financial activities as they were understood at this time. In this article the two authors contextualize the journal by attempting to ascertain the identity of its probable editor, Abbé Grégoire, the contemporary cultural and literary attitudes to gambling which the journal embodies, the different rhetorical strategies the journal uses in describing and addressing the personified vampire, and finally analyzing the ways in which the “vampire” symbolizes predatory financial activity. It is argued that the portrayal of the vampire is not in keeping with the vampire as capitalist as described by Marx, representing a distinct era of economic development.
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John Polidori’s Lord Ruthven was the most famous vampire of his age for contemporary readers. The Vampyre (1819) was written by Polidori almost a century before Dracula (1897) and was so well received by the public that more than a dozen nineteenth century authors across Europe adapted and reincarnated Polidori’s vampire antagonist to entertain readers and audiences for the rest of the century.
This paper looks to Polidori’s original vampire character and reads it alongside some of its most salient rewritings to examine Lord Ruthven’s reincarnations and reinterpretations, from a physical perspective, as considered alongside the rise of the First Industrial Revolution. It gauges how nineteenth century notions of mass consumption are written upon the vampire body in terms of resurrection, rebirth as a reflection of technologies of mass reproduction, and the dying-and-rising cycle as exampled by Lord Ruthven’s literary returns and adaptations.
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This essay examines the bestselling popular novelist James Malcolm Rymer’s engagement with the idea of vegetarianism, a dietary system that in the 1840s was garnering unprecedented interest as an ideology, a community-shaping practice, and an ethos. Firstly, Rymer was surely aware of the vegetarian movement. Secondly, Rymer’s two most famous and enduring penny fiction serials, Varney, the Vampyre (1845-6) and The String of Pearls (1846-7) demonstrate an interest in dietary preference as ethics by representing their monsters as vegetarian-like vampires. In Varney, the eponymous vampyre appears a model of dietary restraint and of toleration for the different dietary ethics of others, but he consumes human bodies in a different way: on the marriage market. In Rymer’s two masterworks of penny fiction, vegetarian ethics as filtered through the vampire tradition produces a social critique of Britain’s human economy.
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This article explores the evolution of Victorian vampires alongside the metaphorical notion of texts consuming their predecessors. Looking at James Malcolm Rymer’s Varney the Vampire and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it argues that later vampires were created through the consumption of earlier conventions, thus offering a unique contribution to scholarship by focusing on the rules of vampirism.
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This article explores Florence Marryat’s little-known 1897 novel The Blood of the Vampire within the context of Victorian sex work. While reading Harriet alternatively as racial Other or as New Woman have been fruitful analyses for previous scholars of Marryat’s text, analyzing Harriet as a potential sex worker helps to parse out some of the more contradictory aspects of Marryat’s rendering. Harriet’s overt and unrestrained sexuality is enough to categorize Harriet as a woman outside of Victorian social mores, and her contagion—coupled with the fact that it can be read as both sexual and genetic in nature—serves to strengthen this comparison. Both within the Victorian period and within Marryat’s novel, the politics of race and empire are inseparable from the national policies of sex work, which are in turn saturated with the same logic of sex and degeneracy.
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In Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), a strong theme of xenophobia is at stake. This xenophobia not only applies generally as a fear of the foreign Other in relation to the vampire, but also specifically to a fear of the vampire as a culinary Other. Dracula survives solely upon the consumption of human blood, so his diet renders him a culinary Other by its contrast to an actual life-sustaining human diet, and also by its contrast to the variance and diversity of nutrients required for human survival. Exemplifying that contrast, Van Helsing and his somewhat multicultural/multigendered crew consume a variety of foods from a variety of international locations during their pursuit of Dracula, while also using innovative technologies. The crew is stronger in their diversity, the vampire weaker in homogeneity. This contrast parallels many of the realities of late-nineteenth century food consumption after the advent of food technologies like processed foods.
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Dacre Stoker, the Canadian great grand-nephew of the author consumed with the family legacy, has continued the family legacy and written Dracula: The Un-Dead (with Ian Holt, 2009) and Dracul (with J. D. Barker, 2018). Asserting his authority with ‘Since I am a Stoker’ (2009: 399), Dacre Stoker clearly believes it is both his birthright to add to the narrative and a necessary act to reassert familial control over the novel. This article demonstrates how these two neo-Gothic biofictions exemplify consumption; first, they assert that Bram Stoker was fed truthful material which he dis/re-membered from real experiences wherein he knew the participants and second, that the recombining of genres—biography, fiction, and gothic—is a legitimate means of bringing a new generation to the older text and its author.
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In this article I discuss the role of the vampire as literary—or ink-drinking—consumer and his/her/their fascination with libraries, bookstores, and the printed word. The French early reader series The Ink Drinker/Le Buveur d’Encre by Éric Sanvoisin provides a look at vampires who, having developed allergies to blood, drink ink from books for sustenance. While the Ink Drinker series is crafted for early readers, more mature readers are not bereft of vampires consuming words. Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian (2005) similarly emphasizes the role a paper trail can play in locating the elusive vampire. All this builds upon the structure of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), which consists of an assortment of texts such as journals, letters, and newspaper reports. The overall scope of the article is a closer look at the vampire’s need to read…and feed.
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This article explores the economics of blood in Charlaine Harris’s The Sookie Stackhouse Novels as a function of both the humans’ capitalist economy and a separate vampire hierarchy based on a feudal system. These economies are both based on blood but in very different ways. The existence of bottled blood and the purchase of it allows vampires to freely exist in the humans’ society. Yet the hidden vampire hierarchy binds them in ways that humans cannot understand. The resulting tension between these societies, demonstrated in the economics of blood, ultimately leads Harris to suggest that vampires cannot necessarily be reconciled into the humans’ world by merely solving the issue of a blood substitute.
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The idea of energy vampires is relatively well established in the Western vampire tradition. And whilst Colin (Mark Proksch) from the popular series What We Do In the Shadows (Clement: 2019-Present) might be the most obvious recent example, the idea goes back at least to the 19th Century. Such vampiric entities can be seen to feed upon various kinds of human energies, from life energy to creative talent, with their dietary preferences very much lead by the spirit of the age they are in. More recently though their diet has taken a darker turn towards more extreme forms of human energies, that of emotional trauma. This article will look at the recent shift towards vampires feeding on human trauma and emotional pain, and will speculate upon what such feeding might say about contemporary culture.
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Notes on Contributors
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