Parasites and perverts : anti-semitism and sexuality in nineteenth-century gothic fiction / by Judith M. Halberstam.
I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), R. L. Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) and Richard Marsh's The Beetle with Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism to trace the congruence and connections between the history of European anti-semitism and the popularity of the Gothic novel. I examine the aesthetic mechanisms of fear and projection that mark certain bodies as racially and sexually other, as essentially abject, and I propose that monstrosity, in these novels, tends to take the form of the parasite or the pervert. By identifying difference in terms of parasitism and perversion, Gothic fiction identifies economic corruption with sexual degeneration. To be unproductive materially and sexually, in these novels, is to be a threat to nation, to capitalism and to bourgeois culture. Gothic monstrosity, I show, maps out a paranoid cultural practice of identifying and eliminating otherness.
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