Sexuality and the Gothic Magic Lantern: Desire, Eroticism and Literary Visibilities from Byron to Bram Stoker

By Leeder, Murray | Irish Gothic Journal, Summer 2015 | Go to article overview

Sexuality and the Gothic Magic Lantern: Desire, Eroticism and Literary Visibilities from Byron to Bram Stoker


Leeder, Murray, Irish Gothic Journal


David J. Jones, Sexuality and the Gothic Magic Lantern: Desire, Eroticism and Literary Visibilities from Byron to Bram Stoker (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

The efforts to understand cinema as one stage of a much longer history of projected media have fertile implications for scholars of horror and the gothic, especially in terms of the fearful potential of the magic lantern (sometimes known as 'the Lantern of Fear') and its ancillary media. David J. Jones's Sexuality and the Gothic Magic Lantern is an excellent source for anyone interested in such explorations. Jones furthers the work of scholars like Terry Castle, Laurent Mannoni, and Mervyn Heard, which recovers the place of the magic lantern and the phantasmagoria in media history, and takes this narrative in new directions in a book less about lantern practice itself than how the lantern took its place in the stock of modern media metaphors, especially literary ones.

As his title implies, Jones emphasises the close allegiance between sex and death. The shadowy, ghostly images of lantern projections proved not only available to gloomy meditations on death, but also to eroticism (the frankly pornographic lantern slides that Jones reproduces will be instructive to many). Indeed, lanternic imagery is often evoked in literature at the juncture of gothicism and eroticism. A set of 'lanternist sexual codes' (p. 203), Jones argues, provided gothic writers with a set of stock images and scenarios that could be transferred from the lantern to the page while retaining a powerful set of implications.

It is with the classic seduction sequence from Dracula (1897), in which Jonathan Harker is accosted by a set of three vampire women, that Sexuality and the Gothic Magic Lantern begins, and it may be a revelation for students of Dracula to learn the significance of those lines comparing the vampires' laughter to the 'intolerable, tingling sweetness of waterglasses when played on by a cunning hand' (qtd. p. 4), which harkens back to a similar image in Lord Byron's Don Juan (1819-23), when the title character has a forbidden encounter with a Spanish woman disguised as a friar. Jones asks, 'why is the sound of fingers on glass evoked in texts at either end of the nineteenth century so readily or even at all in these dark evocations of transgressive sexual encounters? [...] Was there something in this unearthly, tantalising sound which contemporaries understood as a cue for fear and erotic frisson, part of a great submerged shared cultural heritage which readers in the twenty-first century have lost?' (p. 5). These are compelling questions and provide an ideal entry point into Jones's project of unearthing lost contexts and restoring the magic lantern's status in the history of media.

Jones eventually returns to Dracula and its less-frequently discussed semi-sister novel, Stoker's The Lady of the Shroud (1909), as one of his case studies of the 'lanternicity' of nineteenth-century literature. Earlier chapters explore the lanternic qualities of other literary works, including Matthew Lewis's The Monk (1796), Lord Byron's Cain (1821), Manfred (1817), and Don Juan, Charlotte Brontë's Villette (1853), and J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla (1872). Jones's characterisation of Carmilla herself as 'a character [who] flickers seductively between picture, corporeal presence, vaporous absence and dreams, and passes through those quick alterations repeatedly and ambiguously' (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Sexuality and the Gothic Magic Lantern: Desire, Eroticism and Literary Visibilities from Byron to Bram Stoker
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.