Delights of the Night and Pleasures of the Void: Vampirism and Entropy in Nineteenth-Century Literature.
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
John J. Humphries
This dissertation explores the figure of the vampire in the nineteenth century as a metaphor of disorder, especially as interpreted through the root metaphor of the second law of thermodynamics, also known as entropy. The theoretical approach used in the reading of several vampire texts is an entropy theory of literature, a mostly aesthetic approach of relevance to a comparatist study on vampirism and entropy. Chapter One considers the female vampire in one of her earliest nineteenth-century incarnations, the seductive Clarimonde of Theophile Gautier's La Morte amoureuse. Chapter Two is a study of the vampire women in Edgar Allan Poe's arabesque tales followed by a discussion of his Eureka. Chapter Three is a study of the vampire and disorder in the poetry of Charles Baudelaire and his followers, including Gabriele D'Annunzio, Maurice Rollinat, and Arthur Symons. Chapter Four is devoted to Bram Stoker's Dracula, focusing on Dracula's women and proposing that Mina Murray is the principal character of the novel. Chapter Five examines several works of fiction concerning art works with vampiric tendencies. After a consideration of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Jan Neruda, and M. R. James, the chapter concludes with a study of the vampire aesthetics in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. In the Conclusion there is a brief discussion of the survival of the figure of the vampire as personification of a remnant culture of Decadence in twentieth-century film and popular fiction.
Dennison, Michael James, "Delights of the Night and Pleasures of the Void: Vampirism and Entropy in Nineteenth-Century Literature." (1996). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 6332.