This article uses Franco Moretti‘s interpretation of Frankenstein and Dracula (Signs Taken For Wonders, 1988) to interrogate Dennis Potter‘s final television play, Cold Lazarus (1996). The critical approach, following Moretti‘s example, is generic, Freudian and Marxist. By identifying the conventions of Gothic drama in Potter‘s play, it claims, firstly, that Cold Lazarus dramatizes deep-seated psychic neuroses; and secondly, alerts its viewers to contemporary cultural anxieties about individual autonomy and the exploitative nature of capitalist enterprise. The argument challenges the predominantly negative reception of Cold Lazarus when first screened in 1994 and aims to defend this play as a fine example of televisual Gothic drama.
This article argues that the allegorical interpretations of the Gothic sublime made by materialist critics like Franco Moretti and Judith Halberstam unavoidably reduce Gothic excess and uncanniness to a realist understanding and, thereby, ironically de-materialize Gothic monstrosity by substituting for it a realistic meaning. This essay, instead, advocates a psychoanalytic critical reception that demonstrates how the essential uncanniness of the Gothic novel makes all realistic interpretation falter. Rather than interpreting Frankensteins creature as a condensed figure for proletarian formation or Dracula as an allegory for xenophobia, for instance, this article insists that the Gothic uncanny should be understood as figuring that which can only be viewed figuratively, as figuring that which has no space within a realistic understanding.