Becoming-Fungus in Arthur Machen‘s The Hill of Dreams
This paper examines the role fungi play in Arthur Machen‘s Decadent classic The Hill of Dreams (1907), a supernatural novel written in the 1890s. Ostensibly an idiosyncratic topic, the novels concern with these organisms devolves on an inquiry into the nature of life itself, of whether it is the result of a spiritual life-force or a haphazard assemblage of matter. In this way, Machen‘s novel participates in the fin de siècle debates between vitalism and materialism. Rather than attempting to resolve this debate, the novel seizes on tensions inherent in fungal life in order to dissolve the concept of life altogether, to suggest its horrifying unreality.
In this essay I argue that Frankenstein‘s monster, as a being constructed, in part, from nonhuman animal remains obtained from slaughterhouses, is literally a bizarre by-product of meat-eating. Frankensteins monster is a ‘monster’ because he is meat that was not consumed and brought back to life. What was intended for the human table comes to life and threatens the social order. The fact that the monster is a vegetarian thus becomes essential for an understanding of Shelley‘s novel. The Gothic narrative of Frankenstein is not one of a supernatural nature; rather the Gothic narrative within the text is the one that confronts the seemingly natural system of carnivorism.
Zoographic Ambivalences in Mantegazza, Ouida, and Vernon Lee
In the framework of contemporary ecocritical theories, this comparative analysis of works by Paolo Mantegazza, Ouida, and Vernon Lee focuses on the conflictual relationship of proximity and differentiation at stake in the human-animal distinction in a post-Darwinian context dominated by the rise of experimental sciences. A discussion of vivisection and animal taming prompted by anthropocentric works as Fisiologia del dolore and Upilio Faimali in tension with proanimal essays by Ouida and Lee shows how the animal, caught between pure inert materiality and idealization, emerges as an intrinsic lack that the human fills with contending rational, utilitarian, moral, and affective motivations.
Bram Stoker‘s ‘Carpet of Death’ and Ireland‘s Horrible Beauty
This article examines Irish bogland as Gothic landscapes in Bram Stoker‘s The Snake‘s Pass (1890). Conjoining the constituent elements of the Irish bog with the EcoGothic as a literary and cultural mode, the ‘Bog Gothic’ illustrates bogland as untamed wasteland that resists incorporation into modernity and colonialism. This article argues that investigating bogland in The Snakes Pass will draw attention to the ways in which Irish bogs are situated precariously among issues of national identity, colonial consciousness and environmental history, which ultimately results in the marginalisation and degradation of these ubiquitous and emblematic landscapes of Ireland.
The Powers of Were-Goats in Tommaso Landolfi‘s La pietra lunare (The Moonstone)
Jewell links the were-animals in Tommaso Landolfis novel La pietra lunare to population ecology in the 1930s. Landolfi imagines and narrates a were-population explosion in the specific historical context of the changes fascism brought to rural life when it favored a grain-based economy. When state policy attempts to manage grazing populations and the culture of transhumance, the uncontrolled growth of fast-breeding, broad-ranging, mountain-going were-goats in the novel puts the validity of fascist agricultural policy into question. When in secret at the full moon they couple monstrously and multiply, were-animals thoroughly challenge the effectiveness of discourses of controlled population management.
Antonio Fogazzaro‘s Malombra combines features of the Gothic novel with an interest in the environment, natural and artificial. The story of a woman who lives in a Palazzo and believes she is the reincarnation of her late ancestor unfolds a narrative constantly engaged with the issues of place and space. Human and nonhuman features play a significant role in the narrative within whose complex and intricate setting the characters interact. By focusing on the main character‘s engagement with the surrounding world the article aims at shedding a new light on the long discussed issues of double identity, showing how the novel portrays instead a symbiotic relationship with the environment.
I undertake a nonanthropocentric discussion of vampirism in Dracula, employing an EcoGothic approach to examine how the relation between the consumption of nonhuman flesh and blood reflects the evolving meaning of species, nation, and gender in nineteenth-century European society. I argue that flesh consumption plays an important role in the development of nutritional allegories and nonhuman vampirism. I show how Jonathan Harker‘s adherence, and the Counts resistance, to the dominant, meat-eating ideology destablise the carnal borderline between the species and how the distinctions between carnivorism and cannibalism trope the nonhuman and unhuman bodies as specular sites of death and horror.
The Victorian gorilla was the most Gothic of animals. Described by Western science only in 1847, it was brought spectacularly to public attention in 1861 by the French-American gorilla hunter Paul du Chaillu‘s Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa. As du Chaillu described his quest for this ‘hellish dream creature’, his narrative devotes a considerable amount of space to the struggles he endured in obtaining sufficient food. Particularly, du Chaillu is obsessed with meat: how to get it, what species to eat, how, indeed, to avoid being eaten himself. This essay explores the ways in these dietary anxieties become entwined with the monstrous figure of the gorilla, and, most significantly, how du Chaillu‘s narrative destabilises established conceptions of the relation between meat-eating and identity.