Boy, just when you thought you knew your vampires. . .
An article in Jewish Ideas Daily describes a new book by Sara Libby Robinson, Blood Will Tell, an academic consideration of vampires in popular culture during the decades leading up to World War One. From the description, the book appears to build upon insights from one of my favorite books on horror in popular culture, David J. Skal’s The Monster Show. Skal’s book discusses how the new European focus on “race” and “blood” in the late nineteenth century, spurred by theorists of Evolutionary Darwinism, coincided with and was reflected by a sudden craze for vampire fiction. According to the Jewish Ideas Daily article, Robinson’s book
argues that Stoker’s depiction of Dracula exploited widespread anxieties about the dangers posed by the flood (and the blood) of Yiddish-speaking immigrants to Great Britain. Dracula’s features are “stereotypically Jewish . . . [his] nose is hooked, he has bushy eyebrows, pointed ears, and sharp, ugly fingers.”
This brings to mind, of course, the funniest line from Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, when a threatened blonde damsel tries to ward off a Jewish vampire with a crucifix and he replies, “Boy, have you got the wrong vampire!”
So, does Dracula rate an invitation to my next seder? Read the article, then decide.