The vampire of war
in Dangerous bodies
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The most threatening collective of dangerous bodies is undoubtedly that generated by war, the supreme Gothic horror. The final chapter will conduct a wide-ranging exploration of the imagery, discourse and symbolism of vampirism in the context of warfare. Even though war is the ultimate blood-sucker, it has rarely been analysed as such. The metaphor is capacious enough to go beyond war in the abstract to accommodate most of the players and action involved. The vampire functions as a floating signifier moving across battlefields, as well as along the home front. This analysis seeks to demonstrate that the rhetoric and imagery of vampirism has a natural kinship with wars, ranging from the Crimean up to the Vietnam War. In 1879, Marie Nizet’s Captain Vampire used the trope of the vampire to send out an anti-war message. I will argue that her fiction influenced the writing of Dracula, which will be read as another war novel, and revisit Jimmie E. Cain’s argument that Stoker’s narrative is a rewrite of the British defeat in the Crimea. The novel has also been linked to the Berlin Treaty and the Russo-Turkish war, in which Stoker’s brother took part. A more recent example of the correlation between vampirism and war is Kim Newman’s postmodernist intertextual pastiche, The Bloody Red Baron (1996), in which World War 1 is reconfigured as a fantastical conflict within which vampires and humans are in combat. Between them, they convey the suffering and horror of war. As Martin Tropp points out, ‘by the end of the First World War, history itself had become a tale of terror’.

Dangerous bodies

Historicising the gothic corporeal

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