Dracula has fulfilled the ambition of Dracula: it has colonized and enthralled the industrial and post-industrial Western world, achieved the integration into modern free-market capitalism that its namesake was unable to achieve. The outpouring of Dracula scholarship in the past twenty years likewise testifies to the vampire’s cultural and economic success. Intending to add a new interpretation to this long list, the current essay argues, first, that Dracula belongs to a character-type that I will define as the “demi-immortal Oriental.” This character type began appearing with increasing frequency in the early nineteenth century for a range of specific historical reasons stemming from the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and Romanticism, but I will focus, secondly, on one specific historical precedent, namely “Enlightenment vitalism” and its subsequent expression as Mesmeric vitalism. Third, I will argue that in the character of the demi-immortal Oriental vitalism came to signify a type of eternal life in competition with the traditional Judeo-Christian afterlife, which rendered it necessarily damnable. The essay then draws out a parallel within Dracula between this demi-immortality and a specific economic model for which Dracula also is a figure. In Halberstam’s terms, two of the monsters that late-Victorian ideologies wanted to disavow were any form of immortality other than the traditional Christian one and any form of economics other than Adam Smith’s naturally free circulation and exchange. Two monstrous alternatives—demi-immortality and an archaic economy of gold and land—are wedded in/as Dracula. Finally, I will delineate a counter-argument, both to my own preceding argument and to that most common among criticisms of the novel, that Dracula, far from being the anti-capitalist anti-Christ, is at once both more spiritual and truer to laissez-faire economics than the vampire slayers who purportedly defend those very values.
Buddhism in literature., English literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism., Buddhism -- Study and teaching -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century., Criticism, interpretation, etc., and History.
"In The Lotus and the Lion, J. Jeffrey Franklin traces the historical and cultural origins of Western Buddhism, showing that the British Empire was a primary engine for curiosity about and then engagement with the Buddhisms that the British encountered in India and elsewhere in Asia." "In this book, Franklin analyzes responses to and constructions of Buddhism by popular novelists and poets, early scholars of religion, inventors of new religions, social theorists and philosophers, and a host of social and religious commentators. Examining the work of numerous figures, Franklin provides insight into cultural upheavals that continue to reverberate into our own time. The Lotus and the Lion demonstrates that the nineteenth-century encounter with Buddhism subtly but profoundly changed Western civilization forever."--BOOK JACKET.