Andrew Smith
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Loving the undead
Haggard, Stoker and Wilde
in Gothic death 1740–1914
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This chapter explores how love provided one way of knowing the dead in Rider Haggard’s She (1887), Ayesha: The Return of She (1905), Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903, revised 1912) and The Lady of the Shroud (1909). A dialogue across these novels centres on loving the femme fatale, where love provides an ambivalent, and often partial, way of comprehending ‘Otherness’. Such engagements should be seen as part of an Orientalist discourse concerning attitudes towards Egypt at the time due to tomb excavations, and continuing British political interest in the area because of the Suez Canal. Understanding the dead ‘Other’ through love effectively resurrects ancient Egypt but in troubled terms that reflect the political and theological instabilities that pertained in assessments of both modern and ancient Egypt. These heterosexual, although repeatedly homosocial, models of love can be contrasted with Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), which conceals same sex love by displacing discussion about desire onto art. This helps to establish Wilde’s text as a counterpoint to the masculine adventure story of Haggard and Stoker.

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Gothic death 1740–1914

A literary history


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