Professional Integrity in Peril at the Fin de Siècle
This essay positions the drug-using doctor at the intersection between traditional Gothic horror and a new fin-de-siècle medical realism, embedding the cultural anxieties at the fin de siècle in relation to the ethical and theological boundaries of scientific knowledge. The objective is to provide a framework for reading and interpreting the medico-gothic narrative of addiction. The essay examines the writings of three pioneering physician-scientists: one historical – Sigmund Freud – and two fictional – Dr Jekyll, in Robert Louis Stevenson‘s Strange Case of DrJekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), and Dr Seward in Bram Stoker‘s Dracula (1897).
Through an analysis of Dracula, this article will explore some of the hyperbolic rhetoric surrounding drug use and womens place in medical discourse that has, like the Count himself, risen again and again in our culture. It argues that Dracula attempts – through popular metaphors of addiction, shifting terminologies about drug use, and British anxieties about immigration – to make a clear but highly unstable distinction between licit and illicit drug use. In the process, Stoker‘s novel illuminates a complex relationship between middle-class women and the opiates that paradoxically serve as a site of patriarchal oppression and resistance to it.
Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein reflects both Romantic critiques of autonomy, as they have been recently defined by Nancy Yousef, and discourses of isolation and addiction as they appear in key texts by Samuel Coleridge and Charles Lamb. For Coleridge and Lamb, addiction leads to what current specialists often call ‘terminal uniqueness’, a feeling of isolation both incommunicable to others and incapable of being heard by a non-addicted audience. In its own portrayals of isolation, Frankenstein may be seen to intersect with these larger discourses of isolation, chemical dependence, and what Anya Taylor calls ‘the empty self ’ of Romantic addiction.
Rechnological necromancy and E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire
Carol Margaret Davison
cinema’s fixation with unreal, voyeuristic death and our
investment in technology as a means of defying mortality. Perhaps
most brilliantly in Shadow , the vampire motif is brought to
bear on both sides of the camera by way of a conceptual triad
involving media technology–addiction–death/undeath
that is also foregrounded in various recent American televisual
William Burroughs’ texts provide us with one of the most self-conscious of guides through an addicted world which is violently dislocated from linear time, while at the same time undermining the reliability of such a guide. In this Gothicised world we cannot trust the account of the addict; but this also implies that we cannot trust ourselves in the moment of addiction to reading. While we are secretly communing with the texts, we are also liable to ‘forget’, or to ignore, the outer parameters which comprise the moral universe; we are freed but, paradoxically, we find difficulty in reporting the content of this freedom. Here we find an essential link, which can also be found across Gothic fiction, to the notion of ‘psychotic rapture’, and a dislocation between the force of the messages ‘broadcast’; to us from the outside and the alignment of these messages with the counterforce of the world of experience.
Theorizing the Nineteenth-Century Gothic Pharmography
Carol Margaret Davison
Liberty, a term dear to the Enlightenments emancipatory project, has long been a key concept in the Gothic. No branch of the Gothic more powerfully or creatively examines the complexities of the liberty question than the Gothic pharmography – a narrative chronicling drug/alcohol seduction and addiction. Drawing on three novelistic sub-genres – the Oriental tale, the imperial Gothic, and the Urban Gothic – the Gothic pharmography coalesces several distinct nineteenth-century debates – the nature of the will and liberal individualism; social oppression and conformity; urban and national degeneration; and British imperialist expansion, which involved the perceived anxiety-inducing sense of Britains growing economic dependence on the non-Western world. This essay offers an overview of the Gothic pharmography from the late eighteenth century through to the fin de siècle in Marie Corelli‘s Wormwood.
Sensationalising Substance Abuse in the Victorian Home
Controversies about the mid-Victorian sensation novel newly brought to the fore clinical conceptualisations of novel reading as an addiction. Yet as novelists capitalised on the sensational potential of substance abuse at home as part of the genre‘s rupture of ideologies of domesticity, they juxtaposed the consumption of sensational material with other emotional and physical dependencies, while reading could be a panacea or cure. M. E. Braddon‘s John Marchmont‘s Legacy (1863) and Wilkie Collins‘s The Law and the Lady (1875) form particularly revealing examples of self-reflexive sensation novels that capitalise on a clinical Gothic of addiction by appropriating discourses that had, ironically, attacked the sensation genre most virulently.
Throughout the long eighteenth century, gambling was hugely popular in Britain, to the growing consternation of critics and lawmakers. This paper explores how Gothic novels portray gambling as not merely an idle pastime, but as an addictive and dangerous behaviour that leads the gambler down the road to villainy. Ann Radcliffe‘s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), William Godwin‘s St Leon (1799), Percy Shelley‘s St Irvyne (1811), and John Polidori‘s The Vampyre (1819) all feature villains who gamble. The Gothics portrayal of villainous and pathetic gamblers added to the widespread and growing public concern about gambling in Britain.
Drunkenness and the Southern Gothic in Flannery O’Connor‘s The Violent Bear It Away
Lindsey Michael Banco
This essay explores a link, previously unremarked, in the Southern Gothic novelist Flannery O’Connors The Violent Bear It Away (1960) between the drunkenness of the novels protagonist and the idiot child he is compelled to baptize. Inspired by the possibility that much of the canon of American literature contains a symbolic economy of alcohol – what John Crowley calls ‘the White Logic’ – I argue that aligning the child with intoxication produces a poetics of addiction that helps explain the redemptive, revelatory climax of the novel in which O’Connors protagonist fulfills his religious destiny. The novel thus calls for a more complex understanding in American Gothic literature of the protean nature of intoxication.