Preferred Citation: Craft, Christopher. Another Kind of Love: Male Homosexual Desire in English Discourse, 1850-1920. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1994 1994.

Just Another Kiss

3. Just Another Kiss

Inversion and Paranoia in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Blood is not at all a sealed biological element, strictly belonging to this or that person who possesses his blood as he might possess eyes or legs. It is a cosmic element, a unique and homogeneous substance which traverses all bodies, without losing, in this accidental individuation, anything of its universality. Itself a transformation of the earth (of bread and of the fruits that we eat), it has the immensity of an element.

When Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu observed in Carmilla (1872) that “the vampire is prone to be fascinated with an engrossing vehemence resembling the passion of love” and that vampiric pleasure is heightened “by the gradual approaches of an artful courtship,” he identified clearly the analogy between monstrosity and sexual desire that would prove, under a subsequent Freudian stimulus, paradigmatic for future readings of vampirism.[1] Modern critical accounts of Dracula almost univocally agree that vampirism both expresses and distorts an originally sexual energy. That distortion, the representation of desire under the defensive mask of monstrosity, betrays the fundamental psychological ambivalence identified by Franco Moretti when he writes that “vampirism is an excellent example of the identity of desire and fear.”[2] This interfusion of sexual desire and the fear that the moment of erotic fulfillment may occasion the erasure of the conventional and integral self informs both the central action in Dracula (1897) and the surcharged emotion of the characters about to be kissed by “those red lips.”[3] So powerful an ambivalence, generating both errant erotic impulses and compensatory anxieties, demands a strict, indeed an almost schematic formal management of narrative material. In Dracula Stoker borrows from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Le Fanu’s Carmilla a narrative strategy characterized by a predictable, if variable, triple rhythm. Each of these texts first invites or admits a monster, then entertains and is entertained by monstrosity for some extended duration, until in its closing pages it expels and repudiates the monster and all the disruption that he/she/it brings.[4]

Obviously enough, the first element in this triple rhythm corresponds formally to the text’s beginning or generative moment, to its desire to produce the monster, while the third element corresponds to the text’s terminal moment, to its desire both to destroy the monster it had previously admitted and to close the narrative in which the monster has come to life. Interposed between these antithetical gestures of admission and expulsion lies a narrative space marked by fundamental equivocation: in its prolonged middle,[5] the Gothic novel affords its ambivalence a degree of play sufficient to sustain a pleasurable, indeed a thrilling anxiety. Within this extended middle, the Gothic novel entertains its resident demon—is, indeed, entertained by it; and the monster, now ascendent in its strength, seems for a time potent enough to invert the “natural” order and overwhelm the comforting closure of the text. That threat, of course, is effectively dismissed by the narrative requirement that the monster be repudiated and the world of normal relations restored; thus the gesture of expulsion brings the play of monstrosity to its predictable close, thereby compensating for the original irruption of deviance. This tripartite cycle of admission/entertainment/expulsion diachronically enacts an essentially synchronic psychological equivocation; in doing so, it both excites and manages the irreducible ambivalence that drives these texts and our reading of them. Or, rather, our rereading and (in the case of the film versions) our reviewing of them. The very impulse to repeat (in) these texts—an impulse that joins reader, monster, writer in a shared fantasia—subverts the very closure that it will also programmatically enact over and over again. Reading the Gothic—perhaps reading in any case—is itself a mode of repetition compulsion, an attempt at mastery that always bespeaks the condition of already having been mastered by trauma.

Thus to speak in the language of mastery and submission, of agency and passivity, is implicitly to have succumbed, however self-consciously or ironically, to the asymmetrical dimorphism of gender (masculine/feminine) and desire (homosexual/heterosexual) that structure the Gothic generally and Dracula specifically. For what Dracula more than melodramatically stages is a violent contest for proprietorship of gender and sex roles: Who (which gender) shall be active and who passive? Who shall kiss and who shall not? Who shall penetrate and with what devices? The simple displacement of the vampire metaphor enables Stoker to problematize these questions and thereby to repeat, with a monstrous difference, a pivotal anxiety of late Victorian culture. Jonathan Harker, whose diary opens the novel, provides Dracula’s most precise articulation of this anxiety. About to be kissed by the “weird sisters” (64), the incestuous vampiric daughters who share Castle Dracula with the Count, a supine Harker thrills to a double passion:

All three had brilliant white teeth, that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. (51)

Immobilized by the competing imperatives of “wicked desire” and “deadly fear,” Harker awaits an erotic fulfillment that entails both the dissolution of the boundaries of the self and the thorough subversion of conventional Victorian gender codes, which constrained the mobility of sexual desire and the varieties of genital behavior by according to the more active male the right and responsibility of vigorous appetite while requiring the more passive female to “suffer and be still.” John Ruskin, concisely formulating Victorian conventions of sexual difference, provides a useful synopsis: “The man’s power is active, progressive, defensive. He is eminently the doer, the creator, the discoverer, the defender. His intellect is for speculation and invention; his energy for adventure, for war, and for conquest.” Woman, predictably enough, bears a different burden: “She must be enduringly, incorruptibly, good; instinctively, infallibly wise—wise, not for self-development, but for self-renunciation…wise, not with the narrowness of insolent and loveless pride, but with the passionate gentleness of an infinitely variable, because infinitely applicable, modesty of service—the true changefulness of woman.”[6] Stoker, whose vampiric women exercise a far more dangerous “changefulness” than Ruskin imagines, anxiously inverts this conventional pattern, as a virile Harker enjoys a “feminine” passivity and awaits a delicious penetration from a woman whose demonism is figured as the power to penetrate. A swooning desire for an overwhelming penetration and an intense aversion to the demonic potency empowered to gratify that desire: this is the ambivalence that motivates action and emotion in Dracula.

This ambivalence, always excited by the imminence of the vampiric kiss, finds its most sensational representation in the image of the Vampire Mouth, the central and recurring image of the novel: “There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive…I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth” (52). That is Harker describing one of the three vampire women at Castle Dracula. Here is Dr. Seward’s description of the Count: “His eyes flamed red with devilish passion; the great nostrils of the white aquiline nose opened wide and quivered at the edges; and the white sharp teeth, behind the full lips of the blood-dripping mouth, champed together like those of a wild beast” (336). As the primary site of erotic experience in Dracula, this mouth equivocates, giving the lie to the easy separation of the masculine and the feminine. Luring at first with an inviting orifice, a promise of red softness, but delivering instead a piercing bone, the vampire mouth fuses and confuses what Dracula’s civilized nemesis, Van Helsing and his Crew of Light,[7] works so hard to separate—the gender-based categories of the penetrating and the receptive, or, to use Van Helsing’s language, the complementary categories of “brave men” and “good women.” With its soft lips barred by hard bone, its red crossed by white, this mouth swallows oppositions in order to announce a compelling (because phobic) disturbance of sexual difference. And it asks some disquieting questions. Are we male or are we female? Do we have penetrators or orifices? And if both, what does that mean? What about our bodily fluids, red and white? What are the fluent relations between blood and semen, milk and blood? Furthermore, this mouth is the mouth of all vampires, male and female. It—and they—are both both.

Yet we must remember that the vampire mouth is first of all Dracula’s mouth, and that all subsequent versions of it (in Dracula all vampires other than the Count are female)[8] merely repeat as diminished simulacra the desire of the great original, the “father or furtherer of a new order of beings” (360). Dracula himself, calling his children “my jackals to do my bidding when I want to feed,” specifies the systematic creation of female surrogates who enact his will and desire (365). This should remind us that the narrative’s originary anxiety, its first articulation of the vampiric threat, derives from Dracula’s hovering interest in Jonathan Harker; the sexual threat that this novel first evokes, manipulates, sustains, but never finally represents, is that Dracula will seduce, penetrate, drain another male. The suspense and power of Dracula’s opening section, of that phase of the narrative we have called the invitation to monstrosity, proceeds precisely from this unfulfilled sexual ambition. Dracula’s desire to fuse with a male, most explicitly evoked when Harker cuts himself shaving, subtly and dangerously suffuses this text. Always postponed and never directly enacted, this desire finds evasive fulfillment in an important series of heterosexual displacements.

Dracula’s ungratified desire to vamp Harker is represented through his three vampiric daughters, whose anatomical femininity permits, because it masks, the silently interdicted homoerotic embrace between Harker and the Count. Here, in a displacement typical both of this text and the gender-anxious culture from which it arose, an implicitly homosexual desire achieves representation as a monstrous heterosexuality, as a demonic inversion of normal gender relations. Dracula’s daughters offer Harker a feminine form but a masculine penetration:

Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat.…I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the supersensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited—waited with a beating heart. (52)

This moment, constituting the text’s most direct and explicit representation of a male’s desire to be penetrated, is governed by a double deflection: first, the agent of penetration is nominally and anatomically (from the mouth down, anyway) female; and second, this dangerous moment, fusing the maximum of desire and the maximum of anxiety, is poised precisely at the brink of penetration. Here the “two sharp teeth,” just “touching” and “pausing” there, stop short of the transgression that would unsex Harker and toward which this text constantly aspires and then retreats: the actual penetration of the male.

This moment is interrupted, this penetration denied. Harker’s swooning pause at the end of the paragraph (“waited—waited with a beating heart”), which seems to announce an imminent piercing, in fact anticipates not the completion but the interruption of the scene of penetration. At precisely this point, Dracula himself breaks into the room, drives the women away from Harker, and admonishes them: “How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs to me” (53). Dracula’s intercession here has two obvious effects: by interrupting the scene of penetration, it suspends and disperses throughout the text the desire maximized at the brink of penetration, and it repeats the threat of a more direct libidinous embrace between Dracula and Harker. Dracula’s taunt, “This man belongs to me,” is suggestive enough, but at no point subsequent to this moment does Dracula kiss Harker, preferring instead to pump him for his knowledge of English law, custom, and language. Dracula, soon departing for England, leaves Harker to the weird sisters, whose final penetration of him, implied but never represented, occurs in the dark interspace to which Harker’s journal gives no access—if it occurs at all.

Hereafter Dracula will never represent so directly a male’s desire to be penetrated; once in England, Dracula observes a decorous heterosexuality and vamps only women, in particular Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker. The novel, nonetheless, does not dismiss homosexual desire and threat; rather it submits a conventionally unspeakable intermasculine sexuality to a fierce heterosexual itinerary that compels women to mediate between men in an otherwise forfended “circuit of male transactions.”[9] Late in the text, the Count himself lucidly explicates this phobic circuitry when he admonishes the Crew of Light thus: “My revenge is just begun. I spread it over the centuries, and time is on my side. Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine” (365). In thus specifying the triangular structure of substitution by which “the girls that you all love” mediate and displace a more direct communion among males, Dracula in fact offers a remarkably condensed synopsis of the critical schema we now so usefully call the “traffic in women” or “between men” paradigm. Derived in part from feminist/lesbian revaluations of the insights of Freud, Lévi-Strauss, and Girard, this critical schema has evinced an impressive explanatory power. Here is Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s précis of Girard’s notion of “triangular desire”:

René Girard’s early book, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, was itself something of a schematization of the folk-wisdom of erotic triangles. Through readings of major European fictions, Girard traced a calculus of power that was structured by the relation of rivalry between the two active members of an erotic triangle. What is most interesting for our purposes in his study is its insistence that, in any erotic rivalry, the bond that links the two rivals is as intense and potent as the bond that links either of the rivals to the beloved: that the bonds of “rivalry” and “love,” differently as they are experienced, are equally powerful and in many senses equivalent. For instance, Girard finds many examples in which the choice of the beloved is determined in the first place, not by the qualities of the beloved, but by the beloved’s already being the choice of the person who has been chosen as a rival. In fact, Girard seems to see the bond between rivals in an erotic triangle as being even stronger, more heavily determinant of actions and choices, than anything in the bond between either of the lovers and the beloved. And within the male-centered novelistic tradition of European high culture, the triangles Girard traces are most often those in which two males are rivals for a female; it is the bond between males that he most assiduously uncovers.[10]

It is such bonds between males that Dracula, too, most assiduously covers and uncovers. Intermasculine “rivalry” and “love” are not merely interfused in this text, they are literally transfused in a perverse exchange of bodily fluids whose anatomical locus is the traduced body of a somnolent woman. For once Van Helsing begins his series of presumptively therapeutic transfusions, the blood that Dracula withdraws from Lucy is no longer hers, but is rather that already transferred from the veins of the Crew of Light. Van Helsing himself explicates the perverse exchange: “even we four who gave our strength to Lucy it also is all to him [sic]” (244). Here, emphatically, is another instance of the heterosexual displacement of a fluid, homosexual desire. Everywhere in this text such desire seeks a strangely deflected heterosexual distribution; only through women may men touch.

In its patently overdetermined insistence that male homosexual desire be channeled or filtered through a defensive heterosexual mask, Dracula submits, very excitedly, to Victorian culture’s imperative that desire for the same represent itself as “in fact” a desire for the different or the “other”—with the other of course figured as a species or version, however displaced, of the feminine. Dracula replays, in other words, the essentially homophobic metaphorics of sexual inversion, of anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa. As demonstrated at length in Chapter 1, sexual inversion explains homosexual desire as a physiologically misplaced heterosexuality; a principle of gender dimorphism is insinuated within desire in order to distantiate the sameness of bodies. A male’s desire for another male, according to this account, is a priori assumed to be a feminine desire referable not to the sex of the body (virili corpore) but rather to a psychologized sexual center characterized by the “opposite” gender (anima muliebris). If this argument’s intrinsic doubleness—its insistence on the simultaneous inscription within the individual of two genders, one anatomical and one not, one visible and one not—provided polemicists like Ulrichs, Symonds, and Ellis with a conceptual lever for the decriminalization of homosexual activity, it nonetheless reinstated the ideological presumption of the heterosexist norm. Precisely what this account of same-sex eroticism cannot imagine is that sexual attraction between members of the same gender may be a reasonable and “natural” articulation of a desire whose excursiveness is simply indifferent to the distinctions of gender, that desire may not be intrinsically sexed as the body is, and that desire seeks its objects according to a complicated set of conventions that are culturally and institutionally determined.

Significantly, the inversion account’s displaced repetition of heterosexual gender norms contains within it the undeveloped germ of a radical redefinition of Victorian conventions of feminine desire. The interposition of a feminine soul between erotically associated males inevitably entails a certain feminization of desire, since the very site and source of desire for males is assumed to be feminine (anima muliebris). Implicit in this argument is the submerged acknowledgment of the sexually independent woman, whose erotic empowerment refutes the conventional assumption of feminine passivity. Nonetheless, this nascent redefinition of notions of feminine desire remained largely unfulfilled. Symonds and Ellis did not escape their culture’s phallocentrism, and their texts predictably reflect this bias. Symonds, whose sexual and aesthetic interests pivoted around the “pure & noble faculty of understanding and expressing manly perfection,”[11] seems to have been largely unconcerned with feminine sexuality; his seventy-page A Problem in Greek Ethics, for instance, offers only a two-page “parenthetical investigation” of lesbianism. Ellis, like Freud, certainly acknowledged sexual desire in women, but nevertheless accorded to masculine heterosexual desire an ontological and practical priority: “The female responds to the stimulation of the male at the right moment just as the tree responds to the stimulation of the warmest days in spring.”[12] (Nor did English law want to recognize the sexually self-motivated woman. The Labouchere Amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, the statute under which Oscar Wilde was convicted of “gross indecency,” simply ignored the possibility of erotic behavior between women.) In all of this we may see an anxious defense against recognition of an independent and active feminine sexuality. A submerged fear of the feminization of desire precluded these polemicists from fully developing their own argumentative assumption of an already sexualized feminine soul.

A historical complicity would thus seem to subsist between the inversion account of homosexuality and the occlusion of independent feminine sexuality. D. A. Miller, commenting on Ulrichs’s formulation of anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa, provides a compact delineation of precisely this complicity:

For if what essentially characterizes male homosexuality in this way of putting it is the woman-in-the-man, and if this “woman” is inclusa, incarcerated or shut up, her freedoms abridged accordingly, then homosexuality would be by its very nature homophobic: imprisoned in a carceral problematic that does little more than channel into the homosexual’s “ontology” the social and legal sanctions that might otherwise be imposed on him. Meant to win a certain intermediate space for homosexuals, Ulrichs’s formulation in fact ultimately colludes with the prison or closet drama—of keeping the “woman” well put away—that it would relegate to the unenlightened past. And homosexuals’ souls are not the only ones to be imprisoned in male bodies; Ulrichs’s phrase does perhaps far better as a general description of the condition of nineteenth-century women, whose “spirit” (whether understood as intellect, integrity, or sexuality) is massively interned in male corporations, constitutions, contexts. His metaphor thus may be seen to link or condense together 1) a particular fantasy about male homosexuality; 2) a homophobic defense against that fantasy; and 3) the male oppression of women that, among other things, extends that defense.[13]

What Miller so efficiently anatomizes here—the interlocking violence of a pervasive cultural homophobia, the subjugation of women, and certain disciplinary fantasies about homosexuality—is played out with a fatal and almost totemic simplicity in Dracula, a text in which the excitations of male homosexual desire must suffer a detour through the image of a mobile and hungering woman who has usurped the “masculine” prerogative of penetration. As we are about to see, the very inversion that requires intermasculine desire disclose itself in and as a feminine locus also guarantees, if we may adapt a phrase of Hardy’s, that the woman will pay.

Our strong game will be to play our masculine againsther feminine.

To make a dead body of woman is to try one last time to overcome her enigmatic and ungraspable character, to fix in a definitive and immovable position instability and mobility themselves.

The portion of Gothic novel that I have called the prolonged middle, during which the text allows the monster a certain dangerous play, corresponds in Dracula to the duration beginning with the Count’s arrival in England and ending with his flight back home; this extended middle constitutes the novel’s prolonged moment of equivocation, as it entertains, elaborates, and explores the very anxieties it must later expel in the formulaic resolution of the plot. The action within this section of Dracula consists, simply enough, in an extended battle between two evidently masculine forces, one identifiably good and the other identifiably evil, for the allegiance of a woman (two women actually—Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker née Murray).[14] This competition between alternative potencies has the apparent simplicity of a black-and-white opposition. Dracula ravages and impoverishes these women, Van Helsing’s Crew of Light restores and “saves” them. As Dracula conducts his serial assaults upon Lucy, Van Helsing, in a pretty counterpoint of penetration, responds with a series of defensive transfusions; the blood that Dracula takes out Van Helsing then puts back. Dracula, isolated and disdainful of community, works alone; Van Helsing enters this little English community, immediately assumes authority, and then works through surrogates to cement communal—that is, patriarchal and homosocial—bonds. As critics have noted, this pattern of opposition distills readily into a competition between antithetical fathers. “The vampire Count, centuries old,” Maurice Richardson writes, “is a father figure of huge potency” who competes with Van Helsing, “the good father figure.”[15] The theme of alternate paternities is, in short, simple, evident, unavoidable.

This oscillation between vampiric transgression and medical correction exercises the text’s ambivalence toward those fundamental dualisms—life and death, spirit and flesh, male and female, activity and passivity—that have served traditionally to constrain and delimit the excursions of desire. As doctor, lawyer, and sometimes priest (“The Host. I brought it from Amsterdam. I have an Indulgence.”), Van Helsing stands as the protector of the patriarchal institutions he so emphatically represents and as the guarantor of the traditional dualisms his religion and profession promote and authorize (252). His largest purpose is to reinscribe the dualities that Dracula would muddle and confuse. Dualities require demarcations, inexorable and ineradicable lines of separation, but Dracula, as a border being who abrogates demarcations, makes such distinctions impossible. He is nosferatu, neither dead nor alive but somehow both, mobile frequenter of the grave and boudoir, easeful communicant of exclusive realms, and as such he toys with the separation of the living and the dead, a distinction crucial to physician, lawyer, and priest alike. His metaphoric power derides the distinction between spirit and flesh, another of Van Helsing’s sanctified dualisms. Potent enough to ignore death’s terminus, Dracula has a spirit’s freedom and mobility, but that mobility is chained to the most mechanical of appetites: he and his children rise and fall for a drink and for nothing else, for nothing else matters. This confusion or interfusion of spirit and appetite, of eternity and sequence, produces a madness of activity and a mania of unceasing desire. Dracula lives an eternity of sexual repetition, a lurid wedding of desire and satisfaction that parodies both.

But the traditional dualism most vigorously defended by Van Helsing and most subtly subverted by Dracula is, of course, sexual: culture’s division of being into gender, either masculine or feminine. Indeed, as we have seen, the vampiric kiss excites a sexuality so mobile, so insistent, that it threatens to overwhelm the distinctions of gender, and the exuberant energy with which Van Helsing and the Crew of Light counter Dracula’s influence represents the text’s anxious defense against the very desire it also seeks to liberate. In counterposing Dracula and Van Helsing, Stoker’s text simultaneously threatens and protects the line of demarcation that insures the intelligible division of being into gender. This ambivalent need first to invite the vampiric kiss and then to repudiate it defines exactly the dynamic of the battle that constitutes the prolonged middle of this text. The field of this battle, of this equivocal competition for the right to define the possible relations between desire and gender, is the infinitely penetrable body of a somnolent woman. This interposition of a woman between Dracula and Van Helsing should not surprise us; in England, as in Castle Dracula, a violent wrestle between males is mediated through a feminine form.

The Crew of Light’s conscious conception of women is, predictably enough, idealized—the stuff of dreams. Van Helsing’s concise description of Mina may serve as a representative example: “She is one of God’s women fashioned by His own hand to show us men and other women that there is a heaven we can enter, and that its light can be here on earth” (226). The impossible idealism of this conception of women deflects attention from the complex and complicitous interaction within this sentence of gender, authority, representation. Here Van Helsing’s exegesis of God’s natural text reifies Mina into a stable sign or symbol (“one of God’s women”) performing a fixed and comfortable function within a masculist sign system. Having received from Van Helsing’s exegesis her divine impress, Mina signifies both a masculine artistic intention (“fashioned by His own hand”) and a definite didactic purpose (“to show us men and other women” how to enter heaven), each of which constitutes an enormous constraint upon the significative possibilities of the sign or symbol that Mina here becomes. Van Helsing’s reading of Mina, like a dozen other instances in which his interpretation of the sacred determines and delimits the range of activity permitted to women, encodes woman with a “natural” meaning composed according to the textual imperatives of anxious males. Precisely this complicity between masculine anxiety, divine textual authority, and a fixed conception of femininity—which may seem benign enough in the passage above—will soon be used to justify the destruction of Lucy Westenra, who, having been successfully vamped by Dracula, requires a corrective penetration. To Arthur’s anxious importunity “Tell me what I am to do,” Van Helsing answers: “Take this stake in your left hand, ready to place the point over the heart, and the hammer in your right. Then when we begin our prayer for the dead—I shall read him; I have here the book, and the others shall follow—strike in God’s name.” (258). Here four males (Van Helsing, Seward, Holmwood, and Quincey Morris) communally read a masculine text (Van Helsing’s mangled English even permits Stoker the unidiomatic pronominalization of the genderless text: “I shall read him”)[16] in order to justify the fatal correction of Lucy’s dangerous wandering, her insolent disregard for the sexual and semiotic constraint encoded in Van Helsing’s exegesis of “God’s women.”

The process by which women are construed as signs determined by the interpretive imperatives of authorizing males had been brilliantly identified over a quarter of a century before the publication of Dracula by John Stuart Mill in The Subjection of Women (1869). “What is now called the nature of women,” Mill writes, “is an extremely artificial thing—the result of forced repression in some directions, unnatural stimulation in others.”[17] Mill’s sentence, deftly identifying “the nature of women” as an “artificial” construct formed (and deformed) by “repression” and “unnatural stimulation,” quietly unties the lacings that bind something called “woman” to something else called “nature.” He subtly devastates any claim to the “natural” authority of gender by asserting that the significatory difference between male and female is available to consciousness only as it is subjected to cultural interpretation: “I deny that anyone knows, or can know, the nature of the two sexes, as long as they have only been seen in their present relation to one another.” Mill’s agnosticism regarding “the nature of the sexes” suggests the societal and institutional quality of all definitions of the natural, definitions that ultimately conspire to produce “the imaginary and conventional character of women.”[18] This last phrase, like the whole of Mill’s essay, underscores and criticizes the authoritarian nexus that arises when a deflected or transformed desire (“imaginary”), empowered by a gender-biased societal agreement (“conventional”), imposes itself upon a person in order to create a “character.” “Character” of course functions in at least three senses: who and what one “is,” the role one plays in society’s supervening script, and the sign or letter that is intelligible only within the constraints of a larger sign system. Van Helsing’s exegesis of “God’s women” creates just such an imaginary and conventional character. Mina’s body/character may indeed be feminine, but the signification it bears is written and interpreted solely by males. As Susan Hardy Aiken has written, such a symbolic system takes for granted “the role of women as passive objects or signs to be manipulated in the grammar of privileged male interchanges.”[19]

Yet exactly the passivity of this object and the ease of this manipulation are at issue in Dracula. Dracula, after all, kisses these women out of their passivity and so endangers the stability of Van Helsing’s symbolic system. Both the prescriptive intention of Van Helsing’s exegesis and the emphatic methodology (hypodermic needle, stake, surgeon’s blade) he employs to insure the durability of his interpretation of gender suggest the potential unreliability of Mina as signifier, an instability that provokes an anxiety we may call fear of the mediatrix. If, as Van Helsing admits, God’s women provide the essential mediation (“that [heaven’s] light can be here on earth”) between the divine but distant patriarch and his earthly sons, then God’s intention may be distorted by its potentially changeable vehicle. If woman as signifier wanders, then Van Helsing’s whole cosmology, with its founding dualisms and supporting texts, collapses. Van Helsing works to avert this catastrophe by imposing an a priori constraint upon the significative possibilities of “Mina.” Such an authorial gesture, intended to forestall the semiotic wandering that Dracula inspires, indirectly acknowledges woman’s dangerous potential. Late in the text, while Dracula is vamping Mina, Van Helsing will admit, very uneasily, that “Madam Mina, our poor, dear Madam Mina is changing” (384). The potential for such a change demonstrates what Nina Auerbach has called this woman’s “mysterious amalgam of imprisonment and power.”[20]

Dracula’s authorizing kiss, like that of a demonic Prince Charming, triggers the release of this latent power and excites in these women a sexuality so mobile, so aggressive, that it thoroughly disrupts Van Helsing’s compartmental conception of gender. Kissed into a sudden sexuality,[21] Lucy grows “voluptuous” (a word used to describe her only during the vampiric process), her lips redden, and she kisses with a new interest. This sexualization of Lucy, metamorphosing woman’s “sweetness” to “adamantine, heartless cruelty, and [her] purity to voluptuous wantonness” (252–53), terrifies her suitors because it entails a reversal or inversion of sexual identity; Lucy, toothed now like the Count, usurps the function of penetration that Van Helsing’s moralized taxonomy of gender reserves for males. Dracula, in thus figuring the sexualization of woman as phallic deformation, parallels exactly some of the more extreme medical uses of the idea of inversion. Late Victorian accounts of lesbianism, for instance, superscribed conventional gender norms upon sexual relationships to which those norms were anatomically irrelevant. Again the heterosexual norm proved paradigmatic. The female “husband” in such a relationship was understood to be dominant, appetitive, masculine, and “congenitally inverted”; the female “wife” was understood to be quiescent, passive, only “latently” homosexual, and, as Havelock Ellis argued, unmotivated by genital desire. Extreme deployment of the heterosexual paradigm approached the ridiculous, as George Chauncey explains:

The early medical case histories of lesbians thus predictably paid enormous attention to their menstrual flow and the size of their sexual organs. Several doctors emphasized that their lesbian patients stopped menstruating at an early age, if they began at all, or had unusually difficult and irregular periods. They also inspected the woman’s sexual organs, often claiming that inverts had unusually large clitorises, which they said inverts used in sexual intercourse as a man would his penis.[22]

This rather pathetic hunt for the penis in absentia denotes a double anxiety: first, that the penis shall not be erased, and if it is erased, that it shall be reinscribed in a perverse simulacrum; and second, that all desire repeat, even under the duress of deformity, the heterosexual norm that the metaphor of inversion always assumes. Medical professionals had in fact no need to pursue this fantasized Amazon of the clitoris, this “unnatural” penetrator, so vigorously, since Stoker, whose imagination was at least deft enough to displace that dangerous simulacrum to an isomorphic orifice, had by the 1890s already invented her. His sexualized women are men too.

Stoker emphasizes the monstrosity implicit in such abrogation of gender codes by inverting a favorite Victorian maternal function. His New Lady Vampires feed at first only on small children, working their way up, one assumes, a demonic pleasure thermometer until they may feed at last on full-blooded males. Lucy’s dietary indiscretions evoke the deepest disgust from the Crew of Light:

With a careless motion, she flung to the ground, callous as a devil, the child that up to now she had clutched strenuously to her breast, growling over it as a dog growls over a bone. The child gave a sharp cry, and lay there moaning. There was a cold-bloodedness in the act which wrung a groan from Arthur; when she advanced to him with outstretched arms and a wanton smile, he fell back and hid his face in his hands.

She still advanced, however, and with a languorous, voluptuous grace, said:

“Come to me Arthur. Leave those others and come to me. My arms are hungry for you. Come, and we can rest together, Come, my husband, come!” (253)

Stoker here gives us a tableau mordant of gender inversion: the child Lucy clutches “strenuously to her breast” is not being fed, but is being fed upon. Furthermore, by requiring that the child be discarded that the husband may be embraced, Stoker provides a little emblem of this novel’s anxious protestation that appetite in a woman (“My arms are hungry for you”) is a diabolic (“callous as a devil”) inversion of natural order, and of the novel’s fantastic but futile hope that maternity and feminine sexuality be divorced.

The aggressive mobility with which Lucy flaunts the encasement of gender norms generates in the Crew of Light a terrific defensive activity, as these men race to reinscribe, with a series of pointed instruments, the line of demarcation that enables the differentiation of gender. To save Lucy from the mobilization of desire, Van Helsing and the Crew of Light counterpose to Dracula’s subversive series of penetrations a “therapeutic” series of their own, that sequence of transfusions intended to provide Lucy with the “brave man’s blood,” which is, as the text affirms, “the best thing on earth when a woman is in trouble” (180). There are in fact four transfusions, beginning with Arthur, who as Lucy’s accepted suitor has the right of first infusion, and including Lucy’s other two suitors (Dr. Seward, Quincey Morris) and Van Helsing himself. One of the established observations of Dracula criticism is that these therapeutic penetrations represent displaced marital (and martial) penetrations; indeed, the text is emphatic about this substitution of medical for sexual penetration. After the first transfusion, Arthur feels as if he and Lucy “had been really married and that she was his wife in the sight of God” (209); and Van Helsing, after his donation, calls himself a “bigamist” and Lucy “this so sweet maid…a polyandrist” (212). These transfusions, in short, are displaced seminal infusions[23] and constitute, in Auerbach’s phrase, “the most convincing epithalamiums in the novel.”[24]

As such, these transfusions mark the text’s first anxious reassertion of the conventionally masculine prerogative of penetration; as Van Helsing tells Arthur before the first transfusion, “You are a man and it is a man we want” (148). Countering the dangerous mobility excited by Dracula’s kiss, Van Helsing’s penetrations restore to Lucy both the stillness appropriate to his sense of her gender and “the regular breathing of healthy sleep,” a necessary correction of the loud “stertorous” breathing, the animal snorting, that the Count inspires. In this regard, the transfusions begin as the first repetitions of the hypertrophic phallic exercises through which the text seeks to secure its rigid schematization of difference. This work of differentiation both affirms a schematic bifurcation of gender and labors intensively to deny—to keep cloven—“the potential unbrokenness of a continuum between [the] homosocial and homosexual.”[25] The novel’s violent homosociality, its blaring thematics of heroic or chivalric male bonding, forfends against (even as it also inadvertently foretells) a specifically homosexual identification. The obvious male bonding in Dracula is precipitated by action—a good fight, a proud ethic, a great victory. Dedicated to a falsely exalted conception of woman, men combine fraternally to fulfill the collective “high duty” that motivates their “great quest” (261). Van Helsing, always the ungrammatical exegete, provides the apt analogy: “Thus we are ministers of God’s own wish.…He have allowed us to redeem one soul already, and we go out as the old knights of the Cross to redeem more” (381). Van Helsing’s chivalric analogy establishes this homosociality within an impeccable lineage signifying both moral rectitude and adherence to the limitation upon desire that this tradition encodes and enforces.

Yet beneath this screen or mask of sanitized fraternity a more libidinal bonding occurs, as male fluids find a protected pooling place in the body of a woman. We return to those serial transfusions that pretend to serve and protect “good women” while actually enabling the otherwise inconceivable interfusion of the blood that is semen too. The Crew of Light’s penetration therapy only too schematically mirrors the vampiric method, as puncture for puncture Van Helsing counters the Count. Van Helsing’s doubled penetrations, first the morphine injection that immobilizes the woman and then the infusion of masculine fluid, repeat Dracula’s spatially doubled penetrations of Lucy’s neck. And that morphine injection, which subdues the woman and improves her receptivity, curiously replicates the Count’s strange hypnotic power; both men immobilize a woman before risking a penetration.[26] Moreover, each penetration bespeaks this same sense of danger. Dracula enters at the neck, Van Helsing at the limb; each evades available orifices and escapes the dangers of vaginal contact. The shared displacement is telling: to make your own holes is an ultimate arrogance, an assertion of penetrative prowess that nonetheless acknowledges, in the flight of its evasion, the threatening power imagined to inhabit woman’s available openings, those secret places that no boy can fill. Woman’s body readily accommodates masculine fear and desire, whether directly libidinal or culturally refined. We may say that Van Helsing and his tradition have polished teeth into hypodermic needles, a cultural refinement that masks violation as healing. Yet precisely this cultivation of violence, at once gynephobic and homophobic, ensures a heterosexually displaced homosexual identification. Displacement (this is a woman’s body) and sublimation (these are “therapeutic” penetrations) enable the otherwise interdicted exchange of bodily fluids, just as in gang rape men share their semen in a location displaced sufficiently to divert the anxiety excited by a more direct union. Dracula again employs an apparently rigorous heterosexuality to represent anxious desire for a less conventional communion. The parallel here to Dracula’s taunt (“Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you…shall be mine”) is inescapable; in each case Lucy, the woman in the middle, connects libidinous males. The sheer fungibility here of violence and desire, of blood and semen, very eloquently bespeaks the homosexual agon driving—and driving mad—this text’s heterosexual and homosocial mediations.

This repetitive contest (penetration, withdrawal; penetration, infusion) continues to be waged upon Lucy’s accommodating body until Van Helsing exhausts his store of “brave men,” whose generous gifts of blood ultimately fail to save Lucy from the mobilization of desire. But even the loss of this much blood does not enervate a male homosocial energy as indefatigable as the Crew of Light’s, especially when it stands in the service of a tradition of “good women whose lives and whose truths may make good lesson [sic] for the children that are to be” (222). In the name of those good women and future children (very much the same children whose throats Lucy is now penetrating), Van Helsing will repeat, with an added emphasis, his assertion that penetration is a masculine prerogative. His logic of corrective penetration demands an escalation; the failure of the hypodermic needle motivates the stake. A woman, apparently, is better still than mobile, better dead than sexual:

Arthur took the stake and the hammer, and when once his mind was set on action his hands never trembled nor even quivered. Van Helsing opened his missal and began to read, and Quincey and I followed as well as we could. Arthur placed the point over the heart, and as I looked I could see its dint in the white flesh. Then he struck with all his might.

The Thing in the coffin writhed; and a hideous, blood-curdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions; the sharp white teeth champed together till the lips were cut and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur never faltered. He looked like the figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it. His face was set, and high duty seemed to shine through it; the sight of it gave us courage, so that our voices seemed to ring through the little vault.

And then the writhing and quivering of the body became less, and the teeth ceased to champ, and the face to quiver. Finally it lay still. The terrible task was over. (258–59)

Here is the novel’s real—and the woman’s only—climax, its most violent and misogynistic moment, displaced roughly to the middle of the book so that the sexual threat may be repeated but its ultimate success denied: Dracula will not win Mina, second in his series of English seductions. The murderous phallicism of this passage clearly punishes Lucy for her transgressions of Van Helsing’s gender code, even as it reassures the threatened homosociality of these very anxious males. Violence against the sexual woman here is intense, sensually imagined, ferocious in its detail. Note, for instance, the terrible dimple, the “dint in the white flesh,” that recalls and completes Jonathan Harker’s swoon of passivity at Castle Dracula (“I could feel…the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there”) and anticipates the technicolor consummation of the next paragraph. That paragraph, masking murder as “high duty,” completes Van Helsing’s penetrative therapy by “driving deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake.” One might question a mercy this destructive, this fatal, but Van Helsing’s actions, always sanctified by the patriarchal textual tradition signified by “his missal,” manage to “restore Lucy to us as a holy and not an unholy memory” (258). This enthusiastic correction of Lucy’s monstrosity provides the Crew of Light with a double reassurance, effectively exorcising the threat of a mobile and hungering feminine sexuality while also countering the “passive” homosexual desire latent in the vampiric threat. The line dividing the male who penetrates from the woman who receives is literally reinscribed upon Lucy’s chest. By disciplining Lucy and restoring to each gender its “proper” function, Van Helsing’s pacification program at once paralyzes the female, disperses a specifically homosexual threat, and consolidates the male homosocial community. Here indeed is a process “wherein male rivals unite, refreshed in mutual support and definition, over the ruined carcass of a woman.”[27]

The vigor and enormity of this penetration (Arthur driving the “round wooden stake,” itself “some two and a half or three inches thick and about three feet long,” resembles “the figure of Thor”) do not bespeak Stoker’s merely personal or idiosyncratic anxiety, but suggest as well a whole culture’s uncertainty about the fluidity of gender roles. Consider, for instance, the following passage from Ellis’s approximately contemporaneous Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Ellis, writing on “The Mechanism of Detumescence” (i.e., ejaculation and its mollifying effects), employs a figure that Stoker would have recognized as his own:

Detumescence is normally linked to tumescence. Tumescence is the piling on of the fuel; detumescence is the leaping out of the devouring flame whence is lighted the torch of life to be handed on from generation to generation. The whole process is double yet single; it is exactly analogous to that by which a pile is driven into the earth by the raising and the letting go of a heavy weight which falls on the head of the pile. In tumescence the organism is slowly wound up and force accumulated; in the act of detumescence the accumulated force is let go and by its liberation the sperm-bearing instrument is driven home.[28]

Both Stoker and Ellis need to imagine so homely an occurrence as penile penetration as an event of mythic, or at least seismic, proportions. Ellis’s pile driver, representing the powerful “sperm-bearing instrument,” may dwarf even Stoker’s already outsized member, but both serve to channel and finally “liberate” a tremendous “accumulated force.” Employing a Darwinian principle of interpretation, Ellis reads woman’s body (much as we have seen Van Helsing do) as a natural sign—or, perhaps better, as a sign of nature’s overriding reproductive intention:

There can be little doubt that, as one or two writers have already suggested, the hymen owes its development to the fact that its influence is on the side of effective fertilization. It is an obstacle to the impregnation of the young female by immature, aged, or feeble males. The hymen is thus an anatomical expression of that admiration of force which marks the female in her choice of a mate. So regarded, it is an interesting example of the intimate manner in which sexual selection is really based on natural selection.[29]

Here evolutionary teleology supplants divine etiology as the interpretive principle governing nature’s text. As a sign or “anatomical expression” within that text, the hymen signifies a woman’s presumably natural “admiration of force” and her invitation to “the sperm-bearing instrument.” Woman’s body, structurally hostile to “immature, aged, or feeble males,” simply begs for “effective fertilization.” Lucy’s body, too, reassures the Crew of Light with an anatomical expression of her admiration of force. Once fatally staked, Lucy is restored to “the so sweet that was.” Dr. Seward describes the change:

There in the coffin lay no longer the foul Thing that we had so dreaded and grown to hate that the work of her destruction was yielded to the one best entitled to it, but Lucy as we had seen her in her life, with her face of unequalled sweetness and purity.…One and all we felt that the holy calm that lay like sunshine over the wasted face and form was only an earthly token and symbol of the calm that was to reign for ever. (259–60)

This postpenetrative peace[30] denotes not merely the final immobilization of Lucy’s body but also the corresponding stabilization of the dangerous signifier whose wandering had so threatened Van Helsing’s gender code. Here a masculine interpretive community (“One and all we felt”) reasserts the semiotic fixity that underwrites Lucy’s function as the “earthly token and symbol” of eternal beatitude, of the heaven we can enter. Penetration, finally, is efficacious: a single stroke satisfies both the sexual and the textual needs of the Crew of Light.

Despite its placement in the middle of the text, this scene corresponds formally to the scene of expulsion that usually signals the end of the Gothic narrative. Here, of course, this scene signals not the end of the story but its continuation, since Dracula will now repeat his assault on another woman. Such displacement of the scene of expulsion requires explanation. Obviously this displacement subserves the text’s anxiety about the direct representation of eroticism between males: Stoker simply could not represent so explicitly a violent phallic interchange between the Crew of Light and Dracula. In a by now familiar heterosexual mediation, Lucy receives the phallic correction that Dracula deserves. Indeed, as readers regularly note, the actual expulsion of the Count at novel’s end is a disappointing anticlimax. Two rather perfunctory knife strokes suffice to dispatch him, as Dracula simply forgets the elaborate ritual of correction that vampirism had previously required. And the displacement of this scene performs at least two other functions: first, by establishing early the ultimate efficacy of Van Helsing’s corrective technology, it reassures everyone—Stoker, his characters, the reader—that vampirism may indeed be vanquished, that its sexual threat, however powerful and intriguing, may be expelled; and second, by establishing this reassurance it permits the text to prolong and repeat its flirtation with vampirism, its ambivalent petition of sexual threat. In short, the displacement of the scene of expulsion provides a heterosexual locus for Van Helsing’s demonstration of compensatory phallicism, even as it also extends the text’s ambivalent homosexual play.

This extension of the text’s fascination with monstrosity—during which Mina is threatened by but not finally recruited into vampirism—includes the novel’s only explicit scene of vampiric seduction. Important enough to be twice presented, first by Seward as spectator and then by Mina as participant, the scene occurs in the Harker bedroom, where Dracula seduces Mina while “on the bed lay Jonathan Harker, his face flushed and breathing heavily as if in a stupor.” The Crew of Light bursts into the room; the voice is Dr. Seward’s:

With his left hand he held both Mrs. Harker’s hands, keeping them away with her arms at full tension; his right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white nightdress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man’s bare breast, which was shown by his torn-open dress. The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink. (336)

In this initiation scene Dracula compels Mina into the pleasure of vampiric appetite and introduces her to a world where gender distinctions collapse, where male and female bodily fluids intermingle terribly. For Mina’s drinking is double here, both a “symbolic act of enforced fellation”[31] and a lurid nursing. That this is enforced fellation is made even clearer by Mina’s own description of the scene a few pages later; she adds the graphic detail of the “spurt”:

With that he pulled open his shirt, and with his long sharp nails opened a vein in his breast. When the blood began to spurt out, he took my hands in one of his, holding them tight, and with the other seized my neck and pressed my mouth to the wound, so that I must either suffocate or swallow some of the—Oh, my God, my God! What have I done? (343)

That “Oh, my God, my God!” is deftly placed: Mina’s verbal ejaculation supplants the Count’s liquid one, leaving the fluid unnamed and encouraging us to voice the substitution that the text implies—this blood is semen too. But this scene of fellation is thoroughly displaced. We are at the Count’s breast nursing, encouraged once again to substitute white for red: “The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk.” Such fluidity of substitution bespeaks a confusion of Dracula’s sexual identity, or an interfusion of masculine and feminine functions, as Dracula here becomes a demonic mother offering not a breast but an open and bleeding wound. But if the Count’s gender identification is (at least) double, then the open wound must be another displacement (the reader of Dracula must be as mobile as the Count himself). We are back in the genital region, this time a woman’s, and we have the suggestion of a bleeding vagina. As William Veeder writes: “That Dracula makes Mina drink not from the nipple but from a slit gives a vaginal orientation to the moment and a menstrual cast to the blood.”[32] The image of red and voluptuous lips, with their slow trickle of blood, has, of course, always harbored this potential.

In this scene anatomical displacement and the conflation of bodily fluids forcefully erase the demarcation separating the masculine and the feminine; here is Dracula’s most explicit representation of the anxieties excited by the vampiric kiss. Fluidity of desire and mobility of gender identification are at once released and arrested in a fierce tableau of pre-Oedipal orality that recalls the text’s earlier, barely liminal acknowledgment of a more immediate homosexual fellation. Recalling the prehistory of their homosocial/pederastic bonding, Van Helsing says to Seward:

Tell your friend [Arthur] that when that time you suck from my wound so swiftly the poison of the gangrene from the knife that our other friend, too nervous, let slip, you did more for him when he wants my aids and you call for them than all his great fortune could do [sic]. (138)

Veeder convincingly reads these lines as a subliminal indication of “an originary ritual intercourse” in which “no woman need constitute a conduit of male desire.” As “the lips of the willing male assure the continuity of patriarchy,” Veeder continues, intermasculine fellation is disclosed as “the ultimate origin of male bonding in Dracula.” Acknowledging the perspicacity of this observation, we need only remark that it is precisely this vestigial origin that Dracula continues to closet through its insistent heterosexual mediations. But this great drinking scene marks Dracula’s last moment of empowerment, his final demonstration of dangerous potency; after this, he will vamp no one. The narrative now moves mechanically to repudiate the pleasures that have generated so much text; after a hundred tedious pages of pursuit and flight, Dracula perfunctorily expels the Count.

Sentences with an as yet unspecified subject: “One morning while still in bed (whether still half asleep or already awake I cannot remember), I had a feeling which, thinking about it later when fully awake, struck me as highly peculiar. It was the idea that it really must be rather pleasant to be a woman succumbing to intercourse. This idea was so foreign to my whole nature that I may say I would have rejected it with indignation if fully awake; from what I have experienced since I cannot exclude the possibility that some external influences were at work to implant this idea in me.”[33] These autobiographical sentences, written in 1900 about a certain male patient’s psychic events of 1894 and years following, resonate deeply with Dracula. The strident pseudo-opposition between a dangerously permeable crepuscular consciousness and an indignantly foreclosed fully conscious state; the pleasurable insertion into the former of a conventionally inverted desire, and a fierce repudiation from the latter of the already entertained (and always entertaining) “submission”; the haunting sense that “external influences [are] at work” in one’s being—all of this corresponds with provocative exactitude to the ingenious delusional structure of Stoker’s perduring Gothic fantasy. A specifically “feminine” desire to “succumb to intercourse” arouses a specifically “masculine” protest, all within a single schismatic subject. Recall Jonathan Harker on his back at Castle Dracula: “I could feel…the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited—waited with a beating heart.” Recall as well the terrible defensive activity—needle, lancet, stake—that ensues in the wake of this desire to “succumb.”

The sentences adduced above derive not from Stoker’s Dracula but rather from the Memoirs of Daniel Paul Schreber, that famously paranoid “homosexual” judge whose case history inspired Freud to write a particularly brilliant version of his totalizing Oedipal narrative.[34] Freud never met, knew, or psychoanalyzed Schreber; like the reader of Dracula, Freud must ground his “Attempts at Interpretation” upon already written and assembled texts, primarily the 1903 German edition of Schreber’s Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, an astonishing document whose spacious appendices include clinical reports composed by the director of the Sonnenstein Asylum (where Schreber was incarcerated), Schreber’s own “Statement of his Case” (July, 1901), and the Court Judgment of July, 1902 that restored to Schreber his civil rights; Freud also seems to have had an unacknowledged correspondence with one Dr. Stegmann of Dresden, who conveyed to Freud personal information not available in the published texts. “How these papers have been placed in sequence,” the headnote to Dracula begins, “will be made clear in the reading of them. All needless matters have been eliminated, so that a history at variance with the possibilities of latter-day belief may stand forth as simple fact.” Something very like this prophylactic editorial strategy, which presents the “simple fact” of monstrosity as someone else’s perceptual achievement, governed Freud’s rearticulation of the Schreber documents. “Since paranoics cannot be compelled to overcome their internal resistances, and since in any case they only say what they choose to say, it follows that this is precisely a disorder in which a written report or a printed case history can take the place of personal acquaintance with the patient” (PN, 9). Even if we concede to Freud the sheer critical and analytic convenience of this statement—which quite obviously affords him a priori protection against the turbulence of homosexual transference and countertransference, even as it also forfends against the indignity of a Dora-like “No”—we must nonetheless demur, if only in passing, at Freud’s claim about the paranoid’s self-authenticating transparency—that “in any case they only say what they choose to say.” Schreber, after all, was “not there to associate,”[35] and what Freud presents in “Psycho-Analytic Notes” is not quite what Schreber “himself” chose to say but rather a formidable condensation of Schreber’s narrative material—his fierce transsexual millennialism, his delusional subjection to the “Rays of God,” his obsessive anality, his perverse redaction of the Christ story. During Freud’s renarrativizing, which submits all possibilities to the “latter-day belief” of psychoanalysis, the errancies of Schreber’s desire are carefully inserted and circulated within the familiar triangular frame: Narcissus everywhere is stepson to Oedipus.

A skeletal recapitulation of the Schreber “facts” is in order. Daniel Paul Schreber: born in Leipzig on 25 July 1842; married in 1878, a childless marriage; in 1893 appointed Senatspräsident (a judge presiding over a court of appeals) at Dresden; institutionalized, both voluntarily and involuntarily, for much of his adult life (about fifteen years total) in various psychiatric clinics and asylums (Dosen, Leipzig, Lindenhof, Sonnenstein); attended at Leipzig by Dr. Paul Emil Flechsig (1847–1929), eminent professor of psychiatry, for whom Schreber developed a deep libidinal attachment that Freud would specify as the precipitating cause of the patient’s paranoid delusion; wrote Memoirs from 1900 to 1902, published them in 1903; on 14 July 1902 the Royal Superior Country Court of Dresden granted Schreber’s appeal for rescission of involuntary tutelage at Sonnenstein; after his release Schreber withdrew into his delusional condition, “an extremely disordered and largely inaccessible state [that lasted] until his death, after gradual physical deterioration, in the spring of 1911—only a short time before the publication of Freud’s paper.”[36] Besieged by an intractable delusion of Byzantine intricacy, Schreber’s sanity was overcome by the belief that his (anatomically male) body was being compelled by God (or the “nerves” or “rays” of God) to suffer a prolonged and painful transsexualization, a piecemeal conversion into woman for reproductive millennial purposes. Working entirely from texts, Freud diagnosed Schreber’s illness as a delusional paranoia (dementia paranoides) of homosexual origin, the paranoia or “persecution-complex” being the inverted or reversed image of Schreber’s unappeasable homosexual longing (for his dead father, for his dead brother, for the paternal imago as embodied by the psychiatrist Flechsig).

How was it, then, that Schreber “entered into peculiar relations with God” (M, 43) and his minion Flechsig? Through an inescapable discourse of the “nerves,” which for Schreber constitute the material base of all “voluptuousness” and of which his bifurcated God (one higher, one lower) is entirely composed: “Apart from normal human language there is also a kind of nerve-language of which, as a rule, the healthy human being is not aware.…In my case, however, since my nervous illness took the above-mentioned critical turn, my nerves have been set in motion from without incessantly and without any respite.…I myself first felt this influence as emanating from Professor Flechsig.…This influence has in the course of years assumed forms more and more contrary to the Order of the World and to man’s natural right to be master of his own nerves” (M, 69–70; italics and capitalization original). The penultimate result of this nervous invasion is what Schreber terms “unmanning,” or entmannung, by which he indicates neither emasculation nor castration precisely, but rather his own becoming-woman at the hands of God: “During that time [November 1895] the signs of a transformation into a woman became so marked on my body, that I could no longer ignore the imminent goal at which the whole development was aiming. In the immediately preceding nights my male sexual organ might actually have been retracted had I not resolutely set my will against it.…Soul-voluptuousness had become so strong that I myself received the impression of a female body, first on my arms and hands, later on my legs, bosom, buttocks, and other parts of my body” (M, 148).

As might reasonably be expected, Schreber’s involuntary “unmanning” generates a stupendous panoply of subject-effects, of which the following must concern us here. God’s imperative effeminization of the male mandates and justifies an absolute “voluptuousness,” an erotic condition that for Schreber corresponds to the feminine: “An excess of voluptuousness would render man [i.e., the male] unfit to fulfil his other obligations; it would prevent him from ever rising to higher mental and moral perfection…[but] For me such moral limits to voluptuousness no longer exist, indeed in a certain sense the reverse applies. In order not to be misunderstood, I must point out that when I speak of my duty to cultivate voluptuousness, I never mean any sexual desires towards other human beings (females) least of all sexual intercourse, but that I have to imagine myself as man and woman in one person having intercourse with myself” (M, 208; italics original). Despite the ethical release implicit in this, Schreber’s “manly honour” stages a ferocious masculine protest, not least because Schreber regards his transsexualization as a biological and spiritual regression. (“The male state of Blessedness [is] superior to the female state” because the latter consists “mainly in an uninterrupted state feeling of voluptuousness” [M, 52].) Hence, the patient argues, “one may imagine how my whole sense of manliness and manly honour, my entire moral being, rose up against” this transformation (M, 76). Conversely, however, once Schreber is convinced of the absolute invincibility of the process (God’s will be done), he is then free to celebrate the woman he has resisted becoming: “I consider it my right and in a certain sense my duty to cultivate feminine feelings which I am able to do by the presence of nerves of voluptuousness.…As soon as I am alone with God, if I may so express myself, I must…strive to give the divine rays the impression of a woman in the height of sexual delight” (M, 207–8). Finally, Schreber’s consciousness is tormented by anxiety over the ultimate fate of his newly feminized body. Will “Miss Schreber” (M, 119) simply be handed over “in the manner of a female harlot” (M, 77) to some unidentified “human being for sexual misuse” and then “left to rot” (M, 75)? Or will the anguish that has overwhelmed the patient jurist finally be redeemed by an abundant compensation: say, perhaps, “fertilization by divine rays for the purpose of creating new human beings” (M, 148)?

The uncanny affinities conjoining Dracula and Schreber’s delusional narrative do not derive merely from the (probably) transhistorical fantasy of “passive homosexual” intercourse, whether anally, orally, or “vaginally” enacted; rather, they proceed from the specifically gynephobic and homophobic itinerary to which nineteenth-century European culture subjected such desire. Within this itinerary, the erotic activation of the male body’s orifices, its portals of “voluptuousness,” entrains an intolerable corollary: the relinquishment of a “natural” and upright masculine privilege and the assumption of an axiomatically degraded femininity. Such is the castrating logic of the inversion metaphor, to which Schreber submitted with an unexampled, an almost parodic, rigor. In this regard Schreber’s persecutory paranoia may be said to have been absolutely lucid: given the configurations of gender and desire at his disposal, Schreber recognized fantasmatically that he would have to submit, even at the expense of his own sanity, to a compulsory transsexualization in order thereby to ground or legitimate his desire for “passive” homosexual intercourse. And so, as if to embody the severity appropriate to his profession, Schreber assumed his castration with a gusto indistinguishable from disgust. Listen, for instance, to the “Rays of God” as they deride the very being they are in the process of feminizing: “So this sets up to have been a Senatspräsident, this person who lets himself be f---d!” Or again: “Don’t you feel ashamed in front of your wife?” (PN, 20). Here the derogation of civil and familial masculine authority—the derogation, that is, of the Name and the Law of the Father—proceeds from Schreber’s exquisite recognition of what Freud would acknowledge only thereafter to deny: the ineradicable presence within the male body of other than phallic drives. The very irreducibility of the “component instincts,” themselves a radical Freudian insight, ensures that the male body too must remain a “sex which is not one.”

Of course, as I have been stressing, the phallocratic order has an explanation ready to hand for what it must regard as the disastrous invagination of the male: somewhere, however occulted, a woman is lurking, interned in the body or soul or psyche of “the homosexual.” Anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa is only the most transparently formulaic instance of this carceral strategy; another is represented by the all-too-familiar arguments for a vestigial “bisexuality” whose theoretical function is to shunt errant homosexual desire back onto straight heterosexual tracks; but the subtlest manifestation of this strategy is the developmental etiology through which Freud constructs the male homosexual as a gender-poor subject who, having adored the mother without sufficient Oedipal interdiction, thereafter introjects her image into his own being, thus ensuring both the femininity of his identification and the fundamental heterosexuality of his nonetheless homosexual practice. In each of these instances, phallocratic interpretation deploys a misogynistic notion of “the feminine” to remand male homosexuality to the shadow realm of the pseudo, the almost, the not quite; for no matter how you cut the figure, you will disclose the operations of an axiomatic heterodynamism in which a feminized subject is always seeking—can only seek—a masculine subject. Guy Hocquenghem has provided the definitive blueprint of this disciplinary machinery: “The perversity of homosexual desire is rooted in the fact that it constitutes the caricature or negative of the heterosexual object choice; it acts as a feedback to the latter, as if testifying to the strength of the [heterosexual] connection between sexual desire and sexual object.”[37]

It was the peculiar “genius” of Schreber’s delusional paranoia, just as it was of Stoker’s more productively deranged imagination, to have made manifest the sheer brutalizing artifice implicit in this feminizing mechanism—a mechanism that appropriates a particularly hostile definition of woman in order to forfend the homosexual embrace. Just as Stoker’s fantasy deploys a monstrous femininity in order to mediate an otherwise unrepresentable desire for sameness, Schreber’s “ingenious delusional system” (PN, 14) requires the interposition—literally, the piecemeal fabrication, nerve by nerve—of a woman whose modesty of service is heterosexually to enable Schreber’s otherwise homosexual desire. But whereas Stoker’s narrative dispenses its mediations of desire through character difference (through Lucy, Mina, the weird sisters), Schreber’s perverse and rigorous condensation interns the mediatrix within the limits of his own fantasmatic but very sentient body. So convinced is Schreber of his transformation that he “calls for a medical examination, in order to establish the fact that his whole body has nerves of voluptuousness dispersed over it from head to foot, a state of things which is only to be found, in his opinion, in the female body, whereas, in the male, to the best of his knowledge, nerves of voluptuousness exist only in the sexual organs and their immediate vicinity.” (PN, 17, 33). Freud reads Schreber’s delusion, no doubt correctly, as perverse wish fulfillment: it is “clear beyond a doubt that his delusion of being transformed into a woman was nothing else than a realization of the content of [the] dream” that, in Schreber’s words, “it really must be very nice to be a woman submitting to the act of copulation” (PN, 33). But what Freud does not read is just how Schreber’s delusion “realizes,” not a transhistorical truth about “passive” homosexuality, but rather the gender enforcements of the cultural itinerary that identifies homosexual desire with femininity and femininity with castration, or “unmanning.”

Precisely because “passive” desire is at once intolerable given an internalized ideology of masculine inviolability and inescapable given the very porousness of all, even male bodies, Schreber must reconstitute homosexual desire as a kind of generative castration. “I became clearly aware that the Order of Things imperatively demanded my emasculation, whether I personally liked it or no, and that no reasonable course lay open to me but to reconcile myself to the thought of being transformed into a woman. The further consequence of my emasculation could, of course, only be my impregnation by divine rays to the end that a new race of men might be created” (PN, 20–21; italics original). Pressing his “emasculation” to its furthest consequence (“my impregnation”), Schreber’s delusion reconstitutes his obsessive anality as millennial reproduction, thereby submitting his errant desire to a compulsory “Order of Things” that is homosexual in its origin, heterosexual in its method, and procreative in its telos. This, it should be clear, is very much the same order of things that governs the perverse erotic distributions of Dracula, where homosexual desire also suffers the violence of heterosexual enforcement, where a luxuriously passive desire also provokes an emphatic inscription of gender difference, and where an overwhelming parent figure also threatens to become the “father or furtherer of a new order of beings” (360). But Schreber, whose fantasy of passivity and transformation outstrips even Stoker’s, pushed the limits of culture into his own being and body, which thereafter enacted both a literalist repetition and a fantasmatic critique of heterosexist ideology and its mechanisms of enforcement.

And what of Freud? Where do his recognitions lie? Somewhere, we might say, in the same bed with Schreber, sharing the paranoid’s knowledge, repeating his ambivalences. Without doubt Freud must be credited with the radical insight into “the mechanism of paranoia,” the recognition that in heterosexist culture persecutory paranoia and “homosexuality” stand in a reciprocating, mutually identifying relation. But of course Freud’s analysis does not admit the phrase I have just italicized: in a classic, transhistoricizing articulation of his notions of fixation, repression, and projection, Freud identifies Schreber’s delusional paranoia as the inverted precipitate of the libido’s homosexual component: “The exciting cause of his illness, then, was an outburst of homosexual libido; the object of this libido was probably from the very first his doctor, Flechsig; and his struggles against the libidinal impulse produced the conflict which gave rise to the symptoms” (PN, 43). If Freud’s agonistic language here (“outbreak,” “struggle,” “conflict”) very well captures the exigent press of Schreber’s condition, it nonetheless fails to acknowledge the historical and cultural dimensions of that distress. The “conflict” here seems securely grounded in an essential antithesis of (all) culture and (any) homosexual libido; Freud has foreclosed the possibility of reading Schreber’s delusion as a fierce and self-destructive critique of dominant culture. Some pages later, extrapolating from the Schreber case, Freud continues:

We should be inclined to say that what was characteristically paranoid about the illness was the fact that the patient, as a means of warding off a homosexual wishful phantasy, reacted precisely with delusions of persecution of this kind.

These considerations therefore lend an added weight to the circumstance that we are in point of fact driven by experience to attribute to homosexual wishful phantasies an intimate (perhaps an invariable) relation to this particular form of disease. (PN, 59)

Certainly it is hard to argue with the clarity of Freud’s perception here, at least as it regards Schreber’s “particular form of disease,” and certainly lines like these corroborate Sedgwick’s claim that Freud’s analysis of Schreber discloses paranoia as “the psychosis that makes graphic the mechanisms of homophobia.”[38] Sedgwick’s cagey insertion of the post-Freudian neologism “homophobia” is apposite here, for it is precisely within the conceptual space opened by the lexical shift from “homosexuality” to “homophobia” that we must situate our critique of Freud’s analysis of the homosexual psychogenesis of persecutory paranoia. Strictly speaking, of course, Freud nowhere promulgates an ideological critique of “the mechanism of homophobia”; rather he presents a discourse that can trace or “make graphic” a constitutive homophobia precisely because his discourse so unselfconsciously incorporates the very mechanisms it would also seem to be on the verge of disclosing and deconstructing. Nowhere in “Psycho-Analytic Notes,” for instance, does Freud problematize the essentialist linkage of femininity and male homosexual desire; indeed, his analysis of the homosexual (as opposed to the homophobic) etiology of persecutory paranoia presupposes the correctness of this linkage. Similarly his uncritical adoption of the cruelly cathected language of “perversion” to designate presumably “neutral” psychoanalytic categories very well exemplifies the discursive ambivalence that must obtain when culturally specific phallocentric assumptions are put in the service of so extreme a transhistoricizing ambition as Freud’s.[39] Oedipus of course is the large example. The declension of desire itself from the Oedipal schema tautologically ensures that all desires will recirculate within the triangle, however preposterous or displaced the versions of the triangle may be. (The uncanny, as Freud observed elsewhere, always comes home.) Hence the ready genealogical tracing of Schreber’s psychosis: symptom formation (God’s transsexualizing intervention) → (repressed and tertiary) desire for Flechsig → (repressed and secondary) desire for dead elder brother → (repressed and originary) desire for Father. The very collapsibility of desires within this regressive trajectory, their inescapable reference to the family romance, returns us to Dracula, where the vampire is about to be formally expelled, but not before being reintegrated within the domestic economy as, precisely, “one of us.”

As heir to the narrative’s ambivalence, the reader should leave Dracula with a troubled sense of the differences separating the forces of darkness and the forces of light. In its closing pages, Dracula deploys the venerable “paranoid Gothic” trope of reversing the roles of pursuer and pursued, of desiring (or murderous) subject and desired (or murdered) object, in order to implicate both in a specifically homosexual (and homophobic) identification; the homosexualization of persecutory paranoia is, as we have seen, the psychoanalytic redaction of this trope. Of course the closure of Dracula, in granting ultimate victory to Van Helsing and a dusty death to the Count, emphatically ratifies the simplistic opposition between the competing conceptions of force and desire, but even Dracula’s final dessication suggests his dispersal or infiltration into the forces of light. Where monstrosity had once been, there normality shall be. But surely this impulse toward a baffled identification, anxious as it is, comes as no surprise within a text whose relation to its resident monster(s) has been ambivalently cathected all along, characterized at once by an obsessive overdetermination of difference and a transgressive desire for sameness. In a justly famous tableau, Dracula speculates upon such anxiogenic identification. Jonathan Harker, standing before his shaving glass, puzzles over a certain absence in an image:

This time there could be no error, for the man was close to me, and I could see him over my shoulder. But there was no reflection of him in the mirror! The whole room behind me was displayed; but there was no sign of a man in it, except myself. (37)

Caught here in the uncanny interchange of the same and the different, Harker literally reflects the text’s disturbing power of ambiguation. The very (non)image of Dracula’s difference (“no reflection of him in the mirror”) “displays” an identification that Harker himself can see and speak, but not understand: “no sign” of man or vampire “except myself.”

So insistently does Dracula inscribe this trope of baffled identification that it repeats the pattern on its final page. Harker, writing in a postscript clearly meant to compensate for his assumption at Castle Dracula of a “feminine” passivity, announces his—and the text’s—last efficacious penetration:

Seven years ago we all went through the flames; and the happiness of some of us since then is, we think, well worth the pain we endured. It is an added joy to Mina and to me that our boy’s birthday is the same day as that on which Quincey Morris died. His mother holds, I know, the secret belief that some of our brave friend’s spirit has passed into him. His bundle of names links all our little band of men together; but we call him Quincey. (449)

As Veeder remarks, Harker’s terminal note “recapitulates the story that patriarchs want to hear”; it “provides both a tableau of domestic unity and a story which shapes the future by organizing the past.” And thus to shape the future requires a line of succession. As the “legitimate” offspring of Jonathan and Mina Harker, Little Quincey may arrive as little more than a name, a coded patronym, but his appearance on the scene has the force of an annunciation: the “natural” order has been restored, conventional gender roles have been rectified. Little Quincey’s official genesis, then, is “obviously” heterosexual, and his arrival resoundingly affirms the reproductive order. But this is a reproductive heterosexuality whose larger cultural burdens include male homosocial articulation, here materialized at the level of the polyandrous signifier: “His bundle of names links all our little band of men together.” In this text the linking of names also points retrospectively to the bundling of male bodies, specifically to an extravagant blood bond of the kind Lawrence would later call Blutbrüdershaft. On this reading, Little Quincey comes to represent the very excess that the reproductive order sponsors but refuses to affirm outright: he is the fantasy child of those sexualized transfusions, son of an illicit and closeted homosexual union that the text now underhandedly admits in the form of an almost farcically homosocial patronym “link[ing] all our little band of men together.” Little Quincey’s densely saturated name thus constitutes this text’s last and subtlest articulation of its “secret belief” in homosexual insemination: its belief that “a brave man’s blood,” sublimated into “our brave friend’s spirit,” may then “pass into” the Oedipalized son whose filial obligation is to remember the Name(s) of the Father(s) even as he forgets the homosexual desire that he must hereafter continue to relay.

The other telling feature here is the novel’s last prophylactic displacement—its substitution of Mina, who ultimately refused sexualization by Dracula, for Lucy, who was sexualized, vigorously penetrated, and consequently destroyed. We may say that Little Quincey was luridly conceived in the veins of Lucy Westenra and then deftly transposed into the purer body of Mina Harker. Here, in the last of its many displacements, Dracula ratifies the double postulate that governs its representation of eros: first, the matriphobic postulate that successful filiation requires the expulsion of all “monstrous” (that is, of any) sexuality in woman; second, the affined homophobic postulate that all desire, however mobile or polyvalent it may secretly be, must subject itself to heterosexual configuration. In this regard, Stoker’s fable repeats in passive, ventriloquial fashion the heterosexualizing ideology of his age. As we have seen, even revisionists of same-sex desire like Ellis and Symonds could not reconfigure such desire without replicating, at whatever level of metaphor, the basic structure of the heterosexual paradigm; and surely Schreber, despite the heroic magnitude of his conflict, could not elude the alienating enforcements either of the inversion model or its later psychoanalytic redaction. In the parallel “cases” of Schreber and Dracula, male homosexual desire, whatever its inclinations to cruise, is compelled to stay home and assume an essentially heterosexual, familial definition.

In his reading of Schreber’s paranoia, Freud even fantasizes that a specific reproductive failure, a break or rupture in the line of Oedipal succession, stands as the proximate cause of the “outbreak” of Schreber’s homosexual libido:

His marriage, which he describes as being in other respects a happy one, brought him no children; and in particular it brought him no son who might have consoled him for the loss of his father and brother and upon whom he might have drained off his unsatisfied homosexual affections. His family line threatened to die out, and it seems that he felt no little pride in his birth and lineage.…Dr. Schreber may have formed a phantasy that if he were a woman he would manage the business of having children more successfully; and he may thus have found his way back into the feminine attitude towards his father which he had exhibited in the earliest years of his childhood. If that were so, then his delusion that as a result of his emasculation the world was to be peopled with “a new race of men, born from the spirit of Schreber”—a delusion the realization of which he was continually postponing to a more and more remote future—would also be designed to offer him an escape from his childlessness. (PN, 57)

No passage could limn more precisely the triangular recirculations of homosexual desire, whose “correct” pedophilic object, the son, must inherit and transmit (but never enjoy) a structurally inescapable homosexual flux; the Schrebers’ failure to complete the Oedipal triangle, to engender its necessary third member, requires in turn that Schreber stage the entire drama as intrapsychic agon—as, that is, the fantasmatic history of his own millennial “unmanning.” Stoker’s novel of course closes with a more conventional Oedipal “reconciliation,” dutifully providing for the Crew of Light a son “upon whom [they] might have drained off [their] unsatisfied homosexual affections.” But in Dracula, this normalizing Oedipal itinerary yields a truly perverse telos in Little Quincey, a child whose conception remains curiously immaculate yet disturbingly lurid: son of his fathers’ violations. Never quite “naturally” engendered, Little Quincey descends from and into violence; the pleasures of his homosexual engendering “may be inferrable, but only from the forms of violence that surround them.”[40]


1. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla, in The Best Ghost Stories of J. S. Le Fanu (New York, 1964), 337. This novella of lesbian vampirism, which appeared first in Le Fanu’s In A Glass Darkly (1872), predates Dracula by twenty-five years.

2. Franco Moretti, Signs Taken for Wonders (Thetford, 1983), 100.

3. Bram Stoker, Dracula (New York, 1979), 51. All further references to Dracula appear within the chapter in parentheses.

4. The paradigmatic instance of this triple rhythm is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a text that creates—bit by bit, and stitch by stitch—its resident demon, then equips that demon with a powerful Miltonic voice with which to petition both its creator and the novel’s readers, and finally drives its monster to polar isolation and suicide. Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde repeats the pattern: Henry Jekyll’s chemical invitation to Hyde corresponds to the gesture of admission; the serial alternation of contrary personalities constitutes the ambivalent play of the prolonged middle; and Jekyll’s suicide, which expels both the monster and himself, corresponds to the gesture of expulsion.

5. Readers of Tzvetan Todorov’s The Fantastic (Ithaca, 1975) will recognize that my argument about the Gothic text’s extended middle derives in part from his idea that the essential condition of fantastic fiction is a duration characterized by readerly suspension of certainty.

6. John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies (New York, 1974), 59–60.

7. This group of crusaders includes Van Helsing himself, Dr. John Seward, Arthur Holmwood, Quincey Morris, and later Jonathan Harker; the title Crew of Light is mine, but I have taken my cue from Stoker: Lucy, lux, light.

8. Renfield, whose “zoophagy” precedes Dracula’s arrival in England and who is never vamped by Dracula, is no exception to this rule.

9. Sedgwick, Between Men, 99.

10. Ibid., 21. The anthropologically derived paradigm of “triangular desire,” according to which women are reified as counters of exchange within an essentially hom(m)osexual circuit, has been brilliantly deployed by feminists for certain revisionary purposes. The ground-breaking feminist/lesbian articulation is Gayle Rubin’s “The Traffic in Women: Notes Toward a Political Economy of Sex” in Toward an Anthropology of Women, ed. Rayna Reiter (New York, 1975), 157–210. Sedgwick modified and redeployed this paradigm to tremendous critical effect in Between Men. A post-Lacanian psychoanalytic version of the same idea can be found in Irigaray’s This Sex Which Is Not One, especially the chapter “Commodities Among Themselves,” 192–97.

11. Symonds, 2:169.

12. Havelock Ellis, quoted in Jeffrey Weeks, Coming Out (London, 1977), 92.

13. D. A. Miller, “Cage aux folles: Sensation and Gender in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White,” Representations 14 (Spring 1986): 112; also available in The Novel and The Police, 155.

14. This bifurcation of woman is one of the text’s most evident features, as critics of Dracula have been quick to notice. See Phyllis Roth, “Suddenly Sexual Women in Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” Literature and Psychology 27 (1977): 117, and her full-length study Bram Stoker (Boston, 1982). Roth, in an argument that emphasizes the pre-Oedipal element in Dracula, makes a similar point: “one recognizes that Lucy and Mina are essentially the same figure: the Mother. Dracula is, in fact, the same story told twice with different outcomes.” The most extensive thematic analysis of this split in Stoker’s representation of women is Carol A. Senf’s “Dracula: Stoker’s Response to the New Woman,” Victorian Studies 26 (1982): 33–39, which sees this split as Stoker’s “ambivalent reaction to a topical phenomenon—the New Woman.”

15. Maurice Richardson, “The Psychoanalysis of Ghost Stories,” The Twentieth Century 166 (1959): 427–28.

16. In this instance, at least, Van Helsing has an excuse for his ungrammatical usage; in Dutch, Van Helsing’s native tongue, the noun bijbel (Bible) is masculine.

17. John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, in Essays on Sex Equality, ed. Alice Rossi (Chicago, 1970), 148.

18. Ibid., 187.

19. Susan Hardy Aiken, “Scripture and Poetic Discourse in The Subjection of Women,” PMLA 98 (1983): 354.

20. Nina Auerbach, Woman and the Demon: The Life of a Victorian Myth (Cambridge, Mass., 1982), 11.

21. Roth, “Suddenly Sexual Women,” 116.

22. George Chauncey, Jr., “From Sexual Inversion to Homosexuality: Medicine and the Changing Conceptualization of Female Deviance,” Salmagundi 58–59 (1982): 132.

23. The symbolic interchangeability of blood and semen in vampirism was identified as early as 1931 by Ernest Jones in On the Nightmare (London, 1931), 119: “in the unconscious mind blood is commonly an equivalent for semen.”

24. Auerbach, Woman and the Demon, 22.

25. Sedgwick, Between Men, 1.

26. Stoker’s configuration of hypnotism and anaesthesia is not idiosyncratic. Ellis, for instance, writing at exactly this time, conjoins hypnosis and anaesthesia as almost identical phenomena and subsumes them under a single taxonomic category: “We may use the term ‘hypnotic phenomena’ as a convenient expression to include not merely the condition of artificially-produced sleep, or hypnotism in the narrow sense of the term, but all those groups of psychic phenomena which are characterized by a decreased control of the higher nervous centres, and increased activity of the lower centres.” The quality that determines membership in this “convenient” taxonomy is, to put matters baldly, a pelvis pumped up by the “increased activity of the lower centres.” Ellis, in an earlier footnote, explains the antithetical relationship between the “higher” and “lower” centers: “The persons best adapted to propagate the race are those with the large pelves, and as the pelvis is the seat of the great centres of sexual emotion the development of the pelvis and its nervous and vascular supply involves the greater heightening of the sexual emotions. At the same time the greater activity of the cerebral centres enables them to subordinate and utilise to their own ends the increasingly active sexual emotions, so that reproduction is checked and the balance to some extent restored.” The pelvic superiority of women, necessitated by an evolutionary imperative (better babies with bigger heads require broader pelves), implies a corresponding danger—an engorged and hypersensitive sexuality that must be actively “checked” by the “activity of the cerebral centres” so that “balance” may be “to some extent restored.”

Hypnotism and anaesthesia threaten exactly this delicate balance, and especially so in women because “the lower centres in women are more rebellious to control than those of men, and more readily brought into action.” Anaesthesiology, it would seem, is not without its attendant dangers: “Thus, chloroform, ether, nitrous oxide, cocaine, and possibly other anaesthetics, possess the property of exciting the sexual emotions. Women are especially liable to these erotic hallucinations during anaesthesia, and it has sometimes been almost impossible to convince them that their subjective sensations have had no objective cause. Those who have to administer anaesthetics are well aware of the risks they may thus incur.” Ellis’s besieged physician, like Stoker’s master-monster and his monster-master, stands here as a male whose empowerment anxiously reflects a prior endangerment. What if this woman’s lower centers should take the opportunity—to use another of Ellis’s phrases—“of indulging in an orgy”? Dracula’s kiss, Van Helsing’s needle and stake, and Ellis’s “higher centres” all seek to modify, constrain, and control the articulation of feminine desire. (But, it might be counterargued, Dracula comes precisely to excite such an orgy, not to constrain one. Yes, but with an important qualification: Dracula’s kiss, because it authorizes only repetitions of itself, clearly articulates the destiny of feminine desire; Lucy will only do what Dracula has done before.) Havelock Ellis, Man and Woman, 4th ed. (New York, 1904), 299, 73, 316, 313 respectively. The first edition appeared in England in 1895.

27. Sedgwick, Between Men, 76.

28. Havelock Ellis, Erotic Symbolism, vol. 5 of Studies in the Psychology of Sex, 6 vols. (Philadelphia, 1906), 142.

29. Ibid., 140.

30. Roth plausibly reads Lucy’s countenance at this moment as “a thank you note” for the corrective penetration; “Suddenly Sexual Women,” 116.

31. C. F. Bentley, “The Monster in the Bedroom: Sexual Symbolism in Bram Stoker’s Dracula,Literature and Psychology 22 (1972): 30.

32. While revising this chapter, I benefited from the opportunity to read William Veeder’s “Tales That Culture Tells Itself: Dracula and the Mothers,” an essay, still in draft, in which Veeder offers a powerful pre-Oedipal and anti-Oedipal reading of the novel. I cite Veeder several times in this chapter, but without further footnoting; Veeder’s essay is not yet published. I quote with permission of the author.

33. Daniel Paul Schreber, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, trans. Ida Macalpine and Richard A. Hunter (1903; Cambridge, Mass., 1988), 63. All quotations from Schreber’s Memoirs are from the Harvard English edition and will be cited parenthetically in the text as M.

34. Sigmund Freud, “Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides),” in The Standard Edition, 12:3–82; all further references to this case study (hereafter designated as PN) will appear in parentheses within the body of the chapter.

35. I take this phrase from Jane Gallop, The Daughter’s Seduction (Cornell, 1982), 57, where it is used to describe an intertextual encounter between Freud and Irigaray: “Yet Irigaray’s encounter with Freud is not a psychoanalysis. Freud is not there to associate.”

36. Here I am quoting from James Strachey’s editor’s note to Freud’s “Psycho-Analytic Notes,” 6.

37. Guy Hocquenghem, Homosexual Desire, trans. Daniella Dangoor (London, 1978), 105–6.

38. Sedgwick, Between Men, 91.

39. For a compelling account of the conceptual contradiction inhering in Freud’s use of the notion of “perversion,” see Davidson’s “How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis,” 252–77.

40. Sedgwick, Between Men, 113–14.

Just Another Kiss

Preferred Citation: Craft, Christopher. Another Kind of Love: Male Homosexual Desire in English Discourse, 1850-1920. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1994 1994.