Chapter

‘The languor which I had long felt began to display itself in my countenance’ Vampires, lesbians and masturbators

Diane Mason

in The Secret Vice

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780719077142
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701089 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719077142.003.0004
‘The languor which I had long felt began to display itself in my countenance’ Vampires, lesbians and masturbators

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This chapter considers the relationship between Laura, the narrator, and Carmilla, her vampire predator, in the supernatural tale, ‘Carmilla’, by J.S. Le Fanu (1871–72). It examines the way in which the medical pathologies of masturbation and consumption can be seen to map over the occult pathology of vampirism, concentrating particularly on the face as a locus of signification as to an individual's health and character. It also explores the relationship between masturbation, consumption and female same-sex desire, and shows how these lesbian liaisons were often described in predatory or vampiric terms in both pornographic and mainstream Victorian literature.

Keywords: Carmilla; Victorian literature; consumption; medical pathology; vampirism; same-sex desire; pornography

Chapter.  12359 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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