Mar 17, 2009
Happy St. Patrick's Day
In honor of St Patrick's Day, when thoughts turn to the Emerald Isle, I have decided to highlight the following book - for obvious reasons.
Dracula's Crypt: Bram Stoker, Irishness, and the Question of Blood. University of Illinois Press (October 15, 2001).
From the publisher: "Dracula's Crypt" unearths the Irish roots of Bram Stoker's gothic masterpiece, offering a fresh interpretation of the author's relationship to his novel and to the politics of blood that consumes its characters. An ingenious reappraisal of a classic text, "Dracula's Crypt" presents Stoker's novel as a subtly ironic commentary on England's preoccupation with racial purity.
Probing psychobiographical, political, and cultural elements of Stoker's background and milieu, Joseph Valente distinguishes Stoker's viewpoint from that of his virulently racist, hypermasculine vampire hunters, showing how the author's dual Anglo-Celtic heritage and uncertain status as an Irish parvenu among London's theatrical elite led him to espouse a progressive racial ideology at odds with the dominant Anglo-Saxon supremacism.
In the light of Stoker's experience, the shabby-genteel Count Dracula can be seen as a doppelganger, an ambiguous figure who is at once the blood-conscious landed aristocrat and the bloodthirsty foreign invader. Stoker also confronts gender ideals and their implications, exposing the 'inner vampire' in men like Jonathan Harker who dominate and absorb the women who become their wives.
Ultimately, Valente argues, the novel celebrates a feminine heroism, personified by Mina Harker, that upholds an ethos of social connectivity against the prevailing obsession with blood as a vehicle of identity.
Revealing a profound and heretofore unrecognized ethical and political message, "Dracula's Crypt" maintains that the real threat delineated in Dracula is not racial degeneration but the destructive force of racialized anxiety itself.
Stoker's novel emerges as a powerful critique of the very anxieties it has previously been taken to express: anxieties concerning the decline of the British Empire, the deterioration of Anglo-Saxon culture, and the contamination of the Anglo-Saxon race."
If anyone is familiar with this tome I would like to hear from you!
The web site Music for All Occasions offers this album which is available on iTunes.
I can imagine an evening with a pint of Guiness, listening to The Irish Vampires, and reading Dracula's Crypt. What better way to celebrate St. Paddy's Day!
[Just kidding the beer and the book would put me to sleep.]