Jennifer Wicke, “Vampiric Typewriting: Dracula and Its Media” ELH 59 (Summer, 1992): 468-69  (on Moretti, 468)



Franco Moretti bifurcates his stimulating analysis of Dracula: one strand follows a Marxist allegorical path, examining the abstract fears aroused by the specter of monopoly capital rising up in Britain's free trade society, and centering on Count Dracula as the metaphoric instantiation of monopoly capital gone wild in its eerie global perambulations; his second appraisal locates Dracula's terror, rather unsurprisingly, in the realm of eros, and advances the notion that the root fear vampirism expresses is the child's ambivalent relation to its mother, and the psychosexual repressions that ambivalence exacts. Both vectors are vigorously and excellently argued, but my concern here is with Moretti's ultimate acknowledgment that these are discrete analyses: "I do not propose here to reconstruct the many missing links that might connect socio-economic structures and sexual-psychological structures in a single conceptual chain. Nor can I say whether this undertaking . . . is really possible. I would merely like to explain the two reasons that--in this specific case--persuaded me to use such different methodologies ... Marxism and psychoanalysis thus converge in defining the function of this literature: to take up within itself determinate fears in order to present them in a form different from their real one . . .” These are two disparate fears, then, with only overdetermination to account for their co-presence. The theoretical split Moretti chooses to elide is just as fraught as he describes it to be; I think it is possible, however, to find a way of addressing this text without accepting such hermetically sealed compartments of analysis. There can be more traffic across these divides; my choice of Dracula rests on a desire to investigate the uncoupled chain of materialist and psychosexual readings, because I see Dracula lodged at the site of that difficulty, at a crux that marks the modernist divide for both theory and literature. It is necessary to juggle several balls in the air at once, to force a collision between these vocabularies. What causes Moretti's economic and sexual allegories to diverge so thoroughly, in my view, is the paradoxical absence of the category of consumption; what I will work through here is the uneasy status of consumption as it is poised between two seemingly exclusionary vocabularies that nonetheless intersect (often invisibly) precisely there.