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Feeding the Vampire: the ravenous hunger of the fin de siècle

Michelis, Angelica (2017) Feeding the Vampire: the ravenous hunger of the fin de siècle. In: Food, drink and the written word in Britain, 1820-1954. Warwick Series in the Humanities, 7 . Routledge, pp. 84-103. ISBN 1848936109

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Abstract

Bracketed between the apparent solidity of Victorian values and the cultural scepticism of modernism, the British fin de siècle is commonly viewed as a cultural and literary period defined by discourses of transition and ambiguity. Victims of vampires act as a typical example of the 'leaking' or disintegrating body and its underlying paradox: they invite the monstrous encounter precisely because their bodies are already represented as weakened in relation to concepts of dominant sexual, gender and racial identity. The vampire can be regarded as emblematic of the fears that haunted the late nineteenth century, mirroring the vampire's idiosyncrasies, progressed into a genre that became 'always already excessive, grotesque, overspilling its own boundaries and limits'. This chapter addresses vampiric desire by exploring further the relationship between the relentless hunger of the vampire, its polymorphous body, and its significance as a powerful emblem for the cultural and political anxieties that give the fin de siècle its discrete literary and historical identity.

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