Abstract

This article argues that vampiric trauma in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), in its horror, endless repetitions, paradoxical structure, and apocalyptic potentialities, constitutes an allegorical site for exploring complex epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical aporias that beset and haunt modern life in a postatrocity imaginary. Reading the operation of trauma in Stoker’s vampiric text with and against the claims of cultural trauma theory, I argue first that the novel re-presents traumatic experiences as unspeakable at the individual level, but possible to recover and communicate at the collective level. Second, Stoker’s novel shows not only the limits and impossibility of witnessing, as Giorgio Agamben surmises, but the inhuman potentiality of testimonies that ultimately mutilate the victims and condemn their sacred memories to oblivion. And finally, the novel reconfigures the radical alterity of the vampiric Other within the specific dialectic of perverse pleasure, allowing for the reinscription of the vampire at the same level of representation in the specular space of the mirror, and articulates a sense of ethical responsibility for the persecutory Other.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4286
Print ISSN
0093-3139
Pages
pp. 73-97
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-05
Open Access
N

Copyright

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