Metamorphoses of the Vampire in Literature and Film: Cultural Transformations in Europe, 1732-1933 (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Cultu)
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For the last three hundred years, fictions of the vampire have fed off anxieties about cultural continuity. Though commonly represented as a parasitic aggressor from without, the vampire is in fact anative of Europe, and its "metamorphoses," to quote Baudelaire, a distorted image of social transformation. Because the vampire grows strong whenever and wherever traditions weaken, its representations have multiplied with every political, economic, and technological revolution from the eighteenth century on. Today, in the age of globalization, vampire fictions are more virulent than ever, and themonster enjoys hunting grounds as vast as the international market. Metamorphoses of the Vampire explains why representations of vampirism began in the eighteenth century, flourished inthe nineteenth, and came to eclipse nearly all other forms of monstrosity in the early twentieth century. Many of the works by French and German authors discussed here have never been presented to students and scholars in the English-speaking world. While there are many excellent studies that examine Victorian vampires, the undead in cinema, contemporary vampire fictions, and the vampire in folklore, until now no work has attempted to account for the unifying logic that underlies the vampire's many and often apparently contradictory forms. Erik Butler holds a PhD from Yale University and has taught at Emory University and Swarthmore College. His publications include The Bellum Gramaticale and the Rise of European Literature (2010) and a translation with commentary of Regrowth (Vidervuks) by the Soviet Jewish author Der Nister (2011).
Necessarily — because the work comes as close as possible to providing a canonical version of the vampire — Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) demands detailed scrutiny. Although the Transylvanian Count offers the most famous example of the undead, his presence in the novel that bears his name is strangely attenuated. Chapter 4 argues that Dracula’s substance derives from his manipulation of the markets, exchange systems, and communications networks already in place in England, the country he invades.
Austrian) hands. Rustics’ belief that a vampire preyed on them reflected uncertainty about who they were, both as individuals and as a collective. The creature attacked victims with impartiality and threatened to make them a soulless shadow of life, like itself. Thus, the vampire can be read as a symptom of doubts about cultural identity produced by the conflict of different political and religious interests and systems — a transfigured expression of profound fears concerning the reality of
things spiritual, on the one hand, with love for a woman and material goods, on the other. History, which is accessible only through symbolic representations, appears in the topos of death and rebirth, as it does in Michelet. “The Dead in Love” does not show a path to God, even for a man of the cloth. It therefore grants ascendancy to the confusion of the sublunary world, fraught both with the tensions of the late eighteenth century and those of the July Monarchy, whose leader, Louis-Philippe,
greedily at a spring of long-sought fresh water.” To Felice, Kafka describes himself without shame or joke as extraordinarily thin, needing blood. . . . Kafka-Dracula . . . fears only two things: the cross of the family and the garlic of marriage.25 Kafka’s private writings, most of his literary oeuvre, and the myriad letters through which he beckoned to his beloved while rarely letting her close to his person26 all represent the shadow side of his hyperrationalized, daytime work as an insurance
harvest the unsuspecting citizenry. When he has received most of what he needs from Harker and can foresee the Englishman’s imminent obsolescence, Dracula demotes the overproud pen pusher, who arrived in Transylvania exultant that he was no longer a mere “solicitor’s clerk” (45), back to a subordinate position. “Last night,” Harker records in his diary, the Count asked me in the suavest tones to write three letters, one saying that my work here was nearly done, and that I should start for home