Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Victorian Nightmares: A Materialist Analysis of Monsters and Monstrous Representations of Class Conflict in the Fin de Seicle.

2018 Foreword

In the most recent Oscar awards there were two films, Get Out and The Shape of Water, which garnered a lot of attention and scooped some of the big prizes, best original screenplay for the former and best director and picture for the latter. This brought me a lot of personal satisfaction as not only did I enjoy both films a lot but as someone who has done academic work and research into that sort of media content I was able to appreciate them and speak about them with authority to other cinephiles. I was also kicking myself that having done the masters degree ten years ago now I hadn’t pursued my studies any further, god only knows that could have been my bake on TV talking about them and the cultural conversation that was happening around them.

Honestly though, I can’t beat myself up too much about that one. I found the process of completing the MA completely brutal. I have never found myself under so much intense pressure in my entire life and I cracked. I had to pay for an extension by an extra term and it eventually came in months late because I couldn’t handle it. At the time I passed it off as problems relating to my various physical illnesses but really the problems I had were psychological, and of the type that I now know are quite typical of people in that situation. I had only a tenth of the word count out in first draft form when I moved back home from campus and I couldn’t look at it for weeks. I did eventually knuckle down and just grind it out in chunks of a couple of hundred words or so a night for another couple of months and only achieved the flow state quite late in the game, more or less after I had stopped caring about the quality and had merely resolved to finish it. I had left writing the second and fourth chapter to the end and managed to bang both those out over night and with minimal revision. When it was eventually completed it looked for the most part like shite and confirmed to me the imposter syndrome I’d been feeling since half way through the course.

Looking back at it now though I can’t believe how good the work is. There’s a few things that maybe I’d do a little differently if I were doing it now however I find it almost hard to believe that it came out of me. And yet it did.

Still, aside from the physical and mental strain that working that way put on me there are other reasons I didn’t pursue academia. I could tell that the lifestyle and amount of work compared to the salary, the precariousness of that type of labour and the fact that it would leave little room in my life for anything else were all becoming apparent. The lack of funding is a bit of an issue as well, I was able to sustain myself for a year on the small amount of money I had saved from a call center job in the year between Queens and the Masters, a bit of money that my folks had put aside for me in a savings account since I was a baby, selling my car and having virtually no social life or expensive habits at the time (I was a more or less straight edge hikikomori). I knew that to do a PHD would require funding and that was something that was hit hard and hit first by the economic crash that was just beginning at the time. Funding it seemed would only be available in my field for specific types of project. Fucking my head up over something I actually had a passion for seemed somewhat reasonable, doing it again for a longer period of time over something that wasn’t my choice to do seemed then as it does now like a recipe for disaster.

At least in the end I did manage to finish it, it stands now as a relic of a different time for me when I was a completely different person and as a testament to what I can be capable of if I put my mind to it. I may never write this way ever again but I hope that one day I’ll be able to write this well. I present it now for public consumption from a very late draft, now with the pictures that went with it that I’ve come across recently while going through an old hard drive (which is one of the reason’s I hadn’t put it up here before now).

I’ve also included the two term papers from the modules that I did in the second semester. I choose the topics for those modules specifically because it would take me into researching time periods and topics related to the thesis, and parts of them were indeed recycled into the main work. I’m posting them up now for the sake of completion, here and here.

Very few people seem to read this blog and fewer still the odd term papers from my course that I’ve already posted. Still, I’m just happy that they are out there in the world, finally. At the time I did the MA even at that point I was very much primarily an activist before I was a writer or even an academic and I did it for the cause as much as for any personal ambition. Since their completion the crisis of capitalism has continued unabated and with increasing ferocity. The Culture Wars I anticipated that would accompany the shifts are on our doorstep and as I’ve said before, political art which weaponises the Gothic, the Fantastic, Monsters and everything else I write about has planked itself right into the mainstream. Good writing about culture from a Marxist perspective, even one as esoteric as my own seems as timely now as it was when I first wrote it, if not more so.



The historian Roger Chartier describes Cultural History as “the analysis of the process of representation”. [1]  Over the past decades the study of a certain body of representations have come to the fore as an object of study and a means of analysis for uncovering certain sections of social action, popular mentality and wider societal truths that otherwise would remain obscure. This set of representations that are that of Monsters and the Monstrous.[2]

Politically charged, mythic and emotionally resonant, the image of the monster is not only a historical construct with recognisable archaeology’s of historically constructed meaning, the study of Monsters contains great potential as part of our conceptual tool box.  Until relatively recently, and with the odd exception, the monster has been largely passed over by historians and left to theorists and practitioners of art and literature.[3]  Currently however with the recent trend towards the increasingly ambivalent boundaries between academic disciplines historians have been getting involved in this field of investigation.[4]  It is in this emerging interdisciplinary endeavour that I locate this research project.

By concentrating this study on the last decades of the Nineteenth Century, I will also be able to draw on a large body of literature relating to the period from a variety of disciplines.  Not only do we see a revival in gothic literature[5] and the beginnings of the modern science fictional genre, but we also see the grand narratives of the 20th century taking shape.  Each of these developments has a very varied and established body of analytical literature, and some work has been done in bringing the one into the other.  There still remains a lot of work to be done that this current project cannot but begin to scratch the surface, though there is the possibility of making a start on answering some important questions about that period.  Specifically I want to look at the Monster trope in relation to the development and heightening of class conflict within the last decades of the nineteenth century.

In examining this particular body of memes in this way I will be try to answer a number of questions.  Firstly, tracking the production and consumption of monster literature by the mass market and the various ways in which they are received and utilised will allow me to address certain epistemological issues, regarding the communication and reception of ideas within and across social classes, which are currently being asked by social historians.[6]

Furthermore, I’ll be able to look at the question of rational and irrational behaviour.  Is the creation of Monsters altogether rational?  Why do human beings seem to possess a propensity for Monstrifying their fears and anxieties?  This also has connotations with regards to the study of emotions in history, particularly the indirect expressions of emotions not allowed direct articulation by the emotionology of the times, such as anxieties about narratives of progress and the superiority of the upper classes.  I will also be afforded the opportunity to look at a central question in the study of mentalities in general, how the myths that inform our day to day consciousness go from the personal projects of the authors to their construction in social idea space into myths of great power and significance in shaping the thoughts of individuals within society.  Working in very different historical disciplines, both Judith Walkowitz[7] and Christopher Frayling[8], emphasise the importance of the Jekyll and Hyde myth on the public understanding of the real-life Ripper murders in that period.  While this is useful in shedding some light on the issue, I think that there is potential there to go a lot further in addressing this question of how myths are created and propagated - and the role of the media (and especially the metropolitan media) in the transmission of myths and related behavior.

With regards to the secondary literature, the study of Monsters being a field still in its formative stage, I will be drawing on a variety of literature from across a number of fields.  As well as those texts outlined above, I will be looking at the conference papers from the last three annual conferences of the “Monsters and the Monstrous” project mentioned above.  There is also a collection of essays called “Monster Theory”[9] that contains some very interesting theoretical work and in particular a very useful essay by the editor outlining a theoretical frame work for the field[10] (the only such attempt I have come across thus far).  As useful as Cohen’s work undoubtedly is, drawing on one particular theoretical approach to monsters, albeit and inclusive and open ended one, will inevitably lead to the study being somewhat limited.  Therefore I will also be drawing together some work on the horror genre in general to see what teratological theories are implicit therein.  Further to this, for background to the cannon of Monster literature I shall be looking at literary analysis, particularly from writers associated with what is termed the “New Historicism” within literary studies.

It is also my intention to draw on the body of texts on the history of labour and working class struggle in the period and its political expression.  By contextualising the work with this body of research, I intend to bring the study into an understanding of the role of monstrous imagery within the social history of politics.  Another body of work that I will be drawing on will be the literature surrounding the consumption of print culture in the period, and particularly by the working classes.  This will be important in trying to gauge the extent of the spread of monster literature by direct means, and suggest the various ways in which literature may have been received.

          Part of this study will entail analysing some of the more significant works gothic-horror literature from the period.  Some attention will be given to the monstrous representations of social conflict in Bram Stoker’s Dracula R.L. Stevenson’s The Strange case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde and in Wells ‘Scientific Romances’[11] The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau.  I’ll also be looking at the use of these images in the cartoons in the mainstream periodicals of the period.[12]

          The purpose of looking at these literary sources is to investigate the teratology of their monstrous content and how that relates to the theory of monsters I shall be proposing, specifically in how class anxieties are expressed therein.  The signifigance of these stories is that as well as having a distinct historio-literary pedigree, they contain the seeds of the gothic and imaginative literature of the next century.  Along with Frankenstein from the beginning of the century these works will have a mythic resonance right into the present.  While some of the themes and content of the stories would become distorted as each generation gave them their own expression in countless stage and (especially) film adaptations, their endurance as tropes and touchstones of meaning within western popular culture[13] is unmistakable.  At the time they were written they were significant works as well, Jekyll and Hyde and Dracula were both adapted for the stage to great success.  The Time Machine was Well’s first novel brought him straight into the popular imagination, ensured a ready market for his next series of ‘Scientific Romances’ (including The Island of Doctor Moreau) and would remain in print from then until the present. 

Among the other sources I will be drawing on are the various collections of the radical left newspapers from the period.  I will be looking at Justice the organ of the Social Democratic Federation, which is housed at The British Library of Political and Economic Science at the LSE, and many of the other pertinent documents housed at the LSE such as the wide collection of pamphlet material from that time.  I’ll also be looking at the wide variety of Socialist and Radical literature housed at the Working  Class Movement Library in Salford.  They keep a large selection of worker’s periodicals[14] and left-wing Journals[15] along with other valuable sources and works of reference. 

The importance of these sources is that they can be said to represent a conscious section of Socialist and Working class opinion.  Justice, as the organ of the Social Democratic Federation, i.e. the British branch of the Second International, was uniquely receptive to developments in the international working class movement.  Also, It was based in London, the centre of state and cultural power and an important site of class struggle in the period.  The northern labour literature takes in one of the other main sites of the working class movement.  The Clarion was the longest running socialist periodical in the period and regularly sold between forty and fifty thousand papers[16].  The editor, Robert Blatchford, would draft the constitution of the Manchester ILP in its offices.[17]  It was the centre of a large alternative socialist sub-culture that boasted a Vocal Union and Cycling Club[18] among other activities.  It was also the only British socialist periodical to run at a profit.  Its importance to the burgeoning labour movement in Britain cannot be overstated.  It was part of a much wider socialist movement than the explicitly Marxist Justice, though the editors of both shared certain assumptions about the necessity of an essentially parliamentary roads to socialism in Britain.  Additionally, after the creation of the Labour Party at the beginning of the century the section of the labour and socialist movement that read The Clarion and the working class culture around the Clarion would become the foundation of the mainstream of Labour culture and the Labour party while the SDF would eventually split and fracture into small leftist cliques and factions that remains, to a degree, the current state of the British far left today.  So in a sense, these two periodicals contain between them the seeds of the history of socialism in Britian for the next century.  Along with the Yorkshire Factory Times they were both widely read among trades unionists of what would be called the ‘New Unionism’ that was emerging in the 1880s, and some of the leading figures in that movement would contribute to both Journals[19].  The study does also take in some other journals from across the left wing of the political spectrum, the significance of each will be explained as I come to them.

          The purpose of looking at these periodicals and the other sources from the radical and socialist press that I have come across is to give voice to an alternative narrative within the profoundly middle-class popular culture of the day.  Although by the end of the nineteenth century illiteracy was rare the majority of what was available for the British worker to read was made by the middle classes, hence it is their discourses and anxieties that dominate much of the monstrous imagery of the time.  To look at the Socialist press is to look at a body of work which, if not always of the workers is certainly for them in a way that the mainstream press rarely was.  Even if the writers and cartoonists that worked for the Socialist press occupied that same stratum of the petite-bourgeoisie as their colleagues on the mainstream journals, were at least their professional practice required them to tap into the sensibilities of the people they were writing for (as I’ll discuss in the next chapter, artistic creation is partly a social activity, even if it’s usually conducted alone).  The cartoonist Walter Crane may have been a late convert to Socialism from a respectable middle class background, but the Cartoons he produced every May Day for Justice would have represented something of the mentality of the movement he was a part of.

As I am bringing together two different bodies of scholarship, I believe that the most appropriate structure for the study is a three-part dialectic.  The first part, (or thesis) will consist of a study of the various theoretical issues of Teratology and specifically with regards to that period at the end of the nineteenth century.  As well as surveying and analysing the various theories I will also attempt to establish a context within the progression of monstrous discourses over the decades since the enlightenment.  The second part of the study will be concerned with the material basis of the production, and distribution of popular literature in the Fin De Siecle, the intellectual climate in which the Monstrous images were formed and the social environment in which they were given meaning.  Particular attention will be given in this section to the struggles of the Working classes and the social anxieties they unleashed. 

Finally I will bring these two parts to a synthesis in the study of the monstrous imagery in the period.  Doing so will hopefully allow me to answer the questions alluded to above, contribute some empirical validity to the theoretical concerns already outlined, and some new theoretical questions into the history writing on the period.  In addition, this should point towards potential studies that could be undertaken, on monstrous depictions of gender and race for example, and into a more sophisticated theoretical approach to monsters in general across all periods and cultures.

Chapter 1

Towards a Theory of Monsters

“Monsters are our children… (They) ask us how we perceive the world… They ask us why we have created them.”
J.J. Cohen[20]
          In today’s society, Monsters are everywhere.  I have lost track of the number of times an unusual or extraordinary event or coincidence related to monsters occurred during the completion of this dissertation. When I began thinking about monsters from a social-scientific perspective in the summer of 2005, after seeing China Miéville’s lecture at Marxism 2005, it seems I truly underestimated the relevance of Monsters and the monstrous to our daily lives.  However, whether it was a group of monsters winning the Eurovision Song Contest, running across an image of Boris Karloff as ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’ on the back of an otherwise unrelated pamphlet while conducting research at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford[21] or the numerous Hollywood blockbusters over the summer,[22] since beginning this project my consciousness feels like it has been inundated with a slew of monstrous imagery from the broadcast media.

          Looking back into history, it would appear that monsters have been a part of the imaginative life of every human society in recorded history.  As such it seems extremely unusual that very little work has been done on addressing monsters as a category in order to understand their significance within society.  The study of Monsters is an area of academia that is still very much in its infancy, indeed it has yet to be established if as a field of study in its own right.  The name ascribed to it, Teratology,[23] doesn’t even appear to be used by everyone arguably working in the field.  Presently, there has been one book of essays published specifically on this topic in 1996[24] and a small group who have been staging an annual conference on monster studies under the auspices of the interdisciplinary research board since 2001.[25]  The contributors to the book and the conference speakers are from a variety of academic disciplines and some are from outside of academia.  Few of them could be said to specialise in monsters, rather the monstrous is merely something they have come across in their research.[26]

          Whether the study of monsters ever extends beyond these tenuous beginnings isn’t, in the strictest sense, relevant to this study.  The aim here is to come up with a theory of the monster and demonstrate how it can be useful in understanding certain phenomena in social and cultural history.  What the study of monsters offers us is a way into the unconscious thoughts and feelings of a particular place or period and a way into the taboo and repressed strata of groups, classes and (when looking at the foibles of the ruling class) whole societies.

Within the social discourses by which a society (or grouping within society) seeks to understand itself, there is a discourse of the imaginative or irrational that both underlies and supports it.  This discourse is formed from he detritus of the rational discourses that are at the forefront of how society conceives of itself.  It is constituted from the unspoken assumptions, the repressed logical progressions and the inherent implications of the rational discourses and the bits of nonsense used to justify the unjustifiable.  While what I would call ‘the rational discourse’ expresses itself as science, pseudo-science, social theory and in the news media, i.e. that which is meant to be the truth, the irrational discourse expresses itself in the self consciously fictive; within narratives in the popular entertainment media and inside the imagery used to illustrate the rational discourse.[27]  Monsters[28] are both, by their nature, fictive and a rich source of rhetorical imagery, therefore they can be said to be almost at home within what I call ‘the irrational discourse’.  To be precise, they embody a very specific rendering of, ‘the other’ i.e. that which society likes to represent itself in opposition to and apart from.

          The practical implications for historians are that a better understanding of monsters and the monstrous can lead to a better understanding of previously discounted sources and other materials that would be considered as outside the purview of the profession, such as pulp horror fiction[29], sources that may seem too strange or specifically cultural to be of notice[30] and even perhaps the process wherebye a historical figure like Napoleon Bonaparte becomes transubstantiated into a sort of monster through the medium of popular culture.  Also, as we are nudging up against the adjoining fields of Cultural Studies, Social Anthropology, Sociology and arts criticism there is an inherent potential in the study of monsters for interdisciplinary work and the cross cultivation of ideas from different disciplines. 

          By dealing with this particular aspect of human culture, i.e. with images that are self consciously fictive we can get into the process of creative thought and possibly the changes that this has undergone in history, as well as the ways in which this doesn’t change, in order to understand those people who have gone before us at an ontological level.  After all, one of the goals of history in general is to make our ancestors intelligible to us.  Too often it seems that our contemporaries regard people in the past as alien, to the detriment to our understanding of ourselves, while in reality they are more like foreigners, people with a different language and set of cultural assumptions but people like ourselves nonetheless.

          Also, since by looking at monsters we are looking at how people conceive of ‘the other’, we can extend this to cultural phenomena wherein an understanding of the treatment of groups of Others by a dominant group is crucial.  My previous work on the whole process of colonialism and the conquest and treatment of colonial subjects is one example of how an understanding of the role of the irrational discourse can yield insights into how things like horror literature can work to support and sustain more conventional forms of cultural power, while exposing the underlying taboo emotions of the colonisers.  Another, not unrelated, area where an understanding of monsters could prove quite useful in this way would be the history of Anti-Semitism.  The use of monstrous and ab-human imagery in Anti-Semitic propaganda would seem to indicate that the racial construction of Jews in various societies in the early 20th century was also a monstrous construction, and certainly many writers have indicated anti-Semitic threads in the construction of various figures in popular horror, e.g. Dracula[31] and Svengali.[32]

          The sort of theory that could elucidate these issues would be a theory of monsters that could explain monsters in art-horror and within the wider culture and could explain these in relation to each other and the wider social-cultural context.  It could explain how (and perhaps why) monsters are created, the sort of materials that go into their creation and why certain monsters succeed over others, come in and out of fashion and fade away.  It would also explain the way in which monsters act and interact within the media.  To date there has not been a theory put forwards in as many words that is quite like what has been outlined above.  Several people have grappled with different aspects of Monsters and the monstrous but usually in isolation and without reference to anyone else’s work.  To date no one has tried to put these elements together to make a consistent whole.  What follows now is my own attempt at this through examining the available works on monsters and related genres for what basic insights they provide and putting them together with some analysis of my own.

We begin with two works that relate to the subject of Monsters that are from a consciously Marxist theoretical background In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity and Nineteenth century Horror Writing by Chris Baldick and José Monleón’s A Spectre Is Haunting Europe: A Sociohistorical Approach to The Fantastic.  What both these books have in common is an approach based on relating the trends within the horror genre to the prevailing contemporary economic and social circumstances, particularly with regards to the progress of industrial capitalism.  Both are quite excellent works of literary analysis, the main difference between the two being that while Baldick has a more Empiricist bent[33] and bases a lot of his arguments on textual analysis, Monleon is more consciously theoretical.  Neither work offers a specific theory of monsters or how monsters come into being, but Baldick offers quite an interesting analysis of the etymology of the word monster in the context of the Enlightenment, which I will return to later. 

          There is also another body of inquiry into the Horror genre that locates itself within a religious tradition.  This is not surprising as both the Horror genre and religion share a common concern with the irrational.  Victor Sage’s book Horror Fiction in the Protestant Tradition is an exploration of the development of the gothic horror genre in relation to wider developments, particularly those within Anglo-Protestant theology. The book has much in common with the two Marxist texts in that the basic methodology is to relate the development of the Horror Genre to the development of capitalism.  The main difference is that the theory of social development underpinning the text comes from Weber rather than Marx.  Again, Sage doesn’t offer any theory of Monsters, but he has a deep knowledge of the Anglo protestant tradition that many of the leading horror authors of the period themselves were a part of and as such provides certain insights into the philosophical concerns they would have engaged with.

Another book on Monsters written from a self-consciously religious perspective, and one of the most interesting and unusual books available on the subject, is E. Michael Jones’s monograph, Monsters From The Id. Jones writing and theoretical approach makes for fascinating reading because it combines elements of Freud’s theory of the unconscious with a Roman Catholic conservative world-view. It is important to note that the authors’ background is not in academia but in the world of right wing political activism, mainly through the medium of the Internet. Since the time of writing this thesis he has gained some traction with the alt-right (with which his anti-modernist outlook chimes) and has written a long anti-Semitic history of Judaism in the west. He has a YouTube channel and his take on The Shape of Water is fascinating. It is quite clear that he is a Cultural Marxist, or at least his methodology is identical to those on the left and post modern end of academia, even if his values are an inversion of those working consciously from that perspective. This earlier book is as much a tract as a theoretical study and has much in common with the writings of Paul Johnston, another American Catholic/Conservative writer who seems to regard the Enlightenment as the greatest tragedy in human history. The core argument common to both Jones and Johnston is that the Enlightenment created a rift between humanity and the natural order.[34] No longer following the path laid down by God leads us to guilt and sin, and thus the horror genre emerges from a sublimated sense of sin and guilt. He even proposes in the introduction to the book that the adoption of certain Christian themes in mainstream Hollywood horror films from around the time the book was written suggests a coming reconciliation with religion in America and the end of the horror genre.

          The 1990s also saw some very interesting work being done on monsters and the horror genre from within academia.  The first of these to be published was Noel Carroll’s  The Philosophy of Horror, or Paradoxes of the Heart[35]. The focus of the book was more on the intricacies of the horror genre in general than on monsters. The Author describes it as an attempt to do for Horror what Aristotle had done for Tragedy in Poetics, i.e. to:

offer a comprehensive account…in terms of the effect it is supposed to bring about… with respect to the elements, particularly plot elements, that facilitate this effect.[36] 

In the terms of these plot elements, Carroll puts monsters at the heart of the genre. 

Carroll identifies two characteristic horror narratives that, define the genre, variations of which account for the majority of Art-Horror narratives within popular culture: the Complex Discovery Plot, and the Over-reacher plot.  In the former, the action is broken down into all (or a combination) of the following four elements; the onset of the supernatural menace, the discovery of the supernatural nature of said menace by the protagonists, the confirmation of the supernatural by the protagonists to a third party[37] and finally the confrontation of the supernatural menace.[38]  In the Over-reacher plot the action can also be broken down into four plot movements, the preparation for the experiment, the experiment, the accumulation of evidence that the experiment has gone awry, and the confrontation with the result of the experiment.[39]  Within these two structures we can clearly see that in both cases the monster is the engine of the plot.  The Complex Discovery is essentially the discovery of the Monster and the Over-reacher’s experiment typically, via design or misfortune, tends to result in the creation of a monster.  According to Carroll, the essential difference between the two types of plot is the way that information that would be considered outside conventional knowledge is treated.  To be precise, in the Complex Discovery Plot, hidden knowledge is often necessary for the monster to be defeated while the Over-reacher plot is usually a cautionary tale about the dangers of trying to access ‘that which man is not meant to know’.[40]  This is related to Carroll’s notion of the monster as something that violates standing categories.  In other words, we could say that Carroll’s theory of Teratology, the creation of the monster, hinges on the point at which some problematic occult knowledge erupts into the real.

Jeffery Jerome Cohen takes up this point in the opening essay of Monster Theory: Reading Culture,[41] indeed “The Monster is the Harbinger of Category Crisis” is the third of the titular, “Seven Thesis”.[42]  Cohen doesn’t really add much to what Carroll has already put forward on this subject, but the other six theses add layers of analysis towards a more general theory of monsters that goes beyond Carroll’s concern with horror and towards a wider analysis of monsters as they function within society at large.  Basically, Cohen’s aim in the essay is to present, “a set of breakable postulates in search of specific cultural moments…seven theses toward understanding cultures through the monsters they engender”.[43]

Cohen’s theses are the only attempt of the sort that I’ve come across and form the ‘jumping off’ point for my own discussion.  As such it is worth going over each of his theses in turn. 

The first is that, “The Monster’s Body is a Cultural Body”,[44] which is to say that since a monster is wholly fictional it is purely constructed of cultural elements.  The Second is “The monster Always Escapes”.[45]  While this is obviously not literally true of all the monsters in all the horror narratives ever recorded, what Cohen means is that, the cultural form of the monster is an enduring form of cultural signifier that has a life beyond whatever cultural form it takes.  Dracula may have been destroyed at the end of the novel, yet he rises again in each subsequent generation and in every new medium since his inception to embody some cultural anxiety. 

The fourth Thesis is that “The monster dwells at the gates of difference”.[46]  Cohen gives this notion some attention, rightly emphasising the idea of the monster as, “the dialectical Other, …an incorporation of the Outside, the Beyond-of all those loci that are rhetorically placed as distant and distinct but originate Within”.[47]  The Fifth Thesis is also related to this idea of the monster as a sort of cultural arbiter of what is and isn’t considered normal.  This is the thesis, “The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible”.  What this means is that the monster is commonly associated with that which is beyond the pale of human knowledge, and not just in he obvious way that monsters tend to punish transgression.[48]  Cohen also cites the original Werewolf legend in western Mythology, the story of King Lycaon from Ovid’s Metamorphosis who is turned into a werewolf for transgressing the bounds of hospitality, and the Dragons and Leviathans painted into the blank spaces on trader’s maps of the ancient world.  He also emphasises the association between this aspect of monstrosity and miscegenation, citing as examples monsters from the Old Testament, The Tempest and Jane Eyre.[49]  The Sixth Thesis is that the, “Fear of the Monster is really a kind of desire”.[50]  This is an attempt to articulate the seemingly paradoxical nature of monsters and horror in general, what Carroll calls in the sub-title of his monograph ‘the paradox of the heart’.  This is the way in which the monstrous both attracts and repels, the reason why we keep coming back to horror.  The emphasis here is in relation to the last two Theses concerning social and cultural barriers. The taboo and forbidden is also exotic and attractive and monsters, being the embodiment of the Other are therefore in the envious position of having the liberty to do what cannot be done within our own society.

Finally, the seventh thesis is that, “The Monster stands at the threshold of becoming”.[51]  This isn’t so much a thesis as a summation of the other six and confirmation of the potential of monsters to raise questions about all aspects of the social order.  What Cohen means is basically that the monster, by having a cultural body, by always escaping and by transgressing the social order and punishing those who transgress, has the potential to raise questions about all these things.  “Monsters are our children”, he says, “they ask us why we have created them”.[52]

          Another book from around the same time that also raises and attempts to deal with these issues in Judith Halberstam’s Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters.  Although she doesn’t lay out any theory of monsters with the range of Cohen’s essay, she does seem to put into practice the sort of sophisticated and complex understanding of monsters within their cultural and social context.  What she does do that Cohen doesn’t, is describe specifically how monsters work, the titular technology of monstrosity.  Leading on from her analysis of how Dracula embodies several, even self contradictory social anxieties about race, gender class and sexuality, she says the following;

…the monster’s body is a machine that…produces meaning and can represent any horrible trait…The monster functions…when it is able to condense as many fear producing traits as possible into one body[53].

          I think that that is an extremely important point, one that is central to my own understanding of what monsters are and how they actually function.

          The theory of monsters that I wish to develop will be essentially an attempt to reconcile what I feel to be the best aspects of the theory of monsters in the work done by Carroll, Cohen and Halberstam in the 1990s with the contextual awareness of the earlier work done by Monléon and Baldick.  The whole Marxist perspective on culture and cultural history seems to have been under-utilised as a source for the conceptual toolbox, which isn’t surprising considering that the idea of Monster Theory has arisen since Marxism was ousted from theoretical orthodoxy by the post-modernism during the downturn.  This is something I wish to rectify.  As we have seen above, the study of Monsters is the study of how society deals with those it wishes to ostracise and dispossess, monstrification is a form of cultural oppression.  These questions of cultural and political power are questions that Marxists have always tried to grapple with, so I have no doubt that this specific iteration of these issues is something that can be enriched by drawing on the intellectual legacy of the Marxist/Dialectic-Materialist approach, from Marx himself through Bakhtin’s circle in Soviet Russia, The Frankfurt School and Walter Benjamin and the post-war British Marxists Raymond Williams and Terry Eagleton.

          Teratology, as established so far, hinges on an epistemological issue of the transmission of ideas through the culture of a given society.   Therefore, in the next chapter I will be developing my theory of teratology through an analysis of the material conditions from which monsters arise, i.e. the labour that is involved in creating things for the mass media and the sort of processes this engenders.  I will also be looking at these processes in relation to a specific period, the analysis of which I feel best demonstrates how my theory works in practice, which is Britain in the Fin De Seicle.  This will then be followed up in the next chapter with an analysis of the teratology of that period, and specifically in relation to the class struggle, again because I feel that this, among the many of the issues of the day, will demonstrate the potential of the theory.

Chapter 2
The Monstrous Mode of Production

“It is beginning,…  for better or worse, the twentieth century.  I have delivered it.”

-Jack The Ripper in From Hell by Alan Moore[54]

From our study of the various theoretical approaches to the Monster in the previous chapter it should now be apparent that monsters are connected to social anxieties.  In this chapter I will be considering the epistemological issue of how monsters were formed within the specific context of late nineteenth century Britain.  This is the period that has been chosen for my investigation because it sees the congruence of momentous historical forces, the great themes of Imperialism, scientific progress and ideology working themselves out on the world-stage with a confidence that was rarely seen before or since.  It is also the time that sees great developments within the creative field, the development of the science fiction and horror genres into something fast approaching their recognisable contemporary form and, of course, the creation of many of the great monster narratives of the next hundred years.  In other words, this period at the end of the nineteenth century is the crucible out of which would be formed both the reality and the imaginative world of the twentieth century.

To understand how these monsters erupt onto the scene at the end of the nineteenth century we need to look at the origins of horror and monster literature in the Enlightenment.  The importance of the Enlightenment as a paradigmatic shift in western culture and its significance to the subsequent development of monsters seems to be the only unifying feature common to all the various threads of monster theory.[55]  What the Enlightenment actually was and the precise nature of its effects are quite a hotly debated topic and are certainly too broad to be settled here.  What we can say in the context of the present debate is that it created a certain cultural space, that hadn’t existed before, which allowed for the development of the horror and science fictional genres and by extension the monsters which they begat.  Monleón describes the process as the articulation of a discourse of ‘Reason’ by the emergent bourgeois class as it overthrew the old feudal order.  This resulted in the rhetorical and literal marginalisation of ‘Unreason’,[56] which would return through the gothic literature that developed at the same time.[57]  Katherine Haltunnuen adds that the development of the genre of Murder literature within cheap popular literature also coincided with the decline of the clerical monopoly over the discourse of murder and the shift from a pre-Enlightenment notion of personal and general evil into the concept of the objectified ‘evil’ Other.[58] 

Also, as Chris Baldick points out, it is precisely at this time that the word “Monster” takes on its modern connotations.  Monster comes from the same Latin root as demonstrate and (as Foucault mentions in Madness and Civilisation[59]) until this period is something or someone that is to be shown.  This is how William Shakespeare uses the word, though even in the early seventeenth century it is already picking up the connotation of ingratitude, particularly the ingratitude of children towards their parents[60] (which would have carried obvious political connotations in a patriarchal state).  In the context of the French Revolution, it is these elements which are picked up on by conservative commentators in Britain, particularly Edmund Burke, to be deployed in their discourses around the revolution.[61]

It is this imagery that is then transposed by Mary Shelley (who was both the daughter of Enlightenment radicals and a significant late Enlightenment thinker in her own right) into the nexus of allegories that was to become her most famous novel, Frankenstein.  This book is widely regarded as the beginning of the modern Horror and Science Fictional genres and the foundation of one of the great Myths of the modern age.[62]  The reason why Frankenstein is a turning point for the Monster, and for western art in general, is that it is the first example of a monster coming together in a modern setting.  It isn’t a monster whose features are drawn together from out of the folklore of the pre-industrial popular culture,[63] but a consciously created thing that takes its moral and existential philosophy directly from the radical background of the author.[64]  In essence, we are no longer talking about popular mythology originating in the organic morass of a folk tradition, where stories are told, worked and re-worked in endless repetition across various media.  Rather, this is the beginning of the modern mode of literary production where these stories originate from the interaction of persona and social elements within a single identifiable author.  This was the first time someone had brought together disparate elements, in this case; Enlightenment philosophy, Gothic novel-writing, galvanism, anatomic investigation by medical students (and the associated horrors of the resurrection men) and crafts a new myth out of them.  The first time indeed, but this is how it will be done from now on.

Although it would be a century before the term was invented[65], Frankenstein was the first science fiction novel.  The defining feature of Science fiction, which makes Frankenstein different to the popular fantastic fiction that was available and widely distributed in the preceding three centuries or so[66], was that it was speculative.[67]  It’s themes were based around the possibilities inherent in the present.  It is this thematic concern with possibility that continues through the mid century writers, for example Hoffman and Edgar Allen Poe, into the period under consideration.

In the late Victorian period, there is a huge expansion in the writing of this sort.  This is related to a perceptible shift in the production and distribution of literature in the 1880s and 90s.  The reading public, who had been increasing incrementally over the previous two centuries, suddenly expanded as the business of writing and selling books, magazines and other forms of literary culture was revolutionised.[68]

This explosion in the consumption and production of writing was facilitated by a number of factors.  Firstly there were technological advances in the mechanisation of printing as well as more efficient paper making processes.[69]  Also, the repeal of Stamp Tax in 1855 and Paper Duty in 1860 had removed one non-material barrier to the mass production of paper[70] and encouraged a great expansion of the News Paper industry that had also been gathering pace by degrees over the preceding centuries.

The main factor however, as perceived at the time, was the education acts of the 1870-90s, which gradually introduced universal primary education.  Literacy had been increasing by steadily over the proceeding centuries[71], but the acts expanded the reading public to an extent unheard of, creating for the first time a literate reading public.[72] 

Another factor that had revolutionised the consumption of literature was the mass transit system. The rail networks provided short intervals of time when the urban commuter could snatch a little reading time.  It was soon recognised that the commuter was an important market for publishers, as near to a captive audience as one could wish for, hence bookshops and stalls were opened in railway stations (this is how the high street chain WH Smiths began[73]).

All this had quite a profound effect on the way literature was produced and consumed.  The ‘Triple Decker’ format of novel writing, in which novels would be published in three volumes each a book in its own right, that had predominated in the publishing industry since the mid-century gave way to shorter, single volume novels.  Prior to the 1880s books were much too expensive to be bought as consumer items by all but the wealthiest.  People tended to join private lending libraries for a subscription fee, but with the advent of the literary revolutions of the Fin de-seicle book buying was suddenly a viable option, even for people on a modest disposable income.  This also had a knock-on effect of revolutionising power relations within the publishing industry.  As readers had had to borrow from whatever stock the circulating libraries had, the people who controlled what was available for the majority of people in Britain to read were the buyers, who were often of distinctly conservative tastes.[74] Also, as magazines became more popular with the reading public publishers were able to issue serialised novels.

Both these developments helped contribute to the explosion in monster literature.  The ‘Triple Decker’, as a format is much more suited to the naturalistic school of writing, for instance the family saga was a common theme.  The shorter self-contained novel was much better suited to the genres driven by their ideas rather than their precise prose, i.e. where the narrative content has priority over the form.

Another effect of the consumption of literature through magazines was the great expansion of a literary format hitherto largely overlooked in Britain, the short story.[75]  If the shorter novel was more conducive to the writing in the genres that most typically contain monsters, the short story is a match made in heaven.  The short story has been described as the perfect medium for speculative fiction, the purest form in which it can be written as it gives enough space to expound and develop a single idea.

Another effect of these shifts in the productive relations in the publishing industry was the professionalisation of writing as a form of labour.  The writer, as a professional, was moving away from his status as gentleman-scholar and was, to a degree, proletarianised,[76] although, as a form of labour, writing is actually closer to a Petty-Bourgeois profession.  What this amounted to was the advent of the writer who was effectively a small producer, someone who wrote to order and in recognised forms with the literary market in mind.  This infuriated the existing generation of writers who were very much influenced by Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy and based the validity of their profession on the ideal of literature as having an improving mission.  Essentially the complaint, as voiced for example by George Gissing in his novel New Grub Street, which chronicled many of these changes from within the profession, was that the sort of writing typical of the late Victorian mode of literary production didn’t contribute anything new. The character Jasper Milvain in New Grub Street exemplifies the new writer.  He describes his working process thus;

From five to half past I read four news papers and two magazines, and from half past to quarter to six I jotted down several ideas that had come to me while reading.[77]

This critique comes from a concept of literary value as stemming from the writers’ creativity and originality, from accessing through their art the platonic realm of forms.  On the other hand, the writing that the new generation of writers produces comes from other writers – the shuffling together of pre-existing elements in the culture.  As such it is completely ephemeral.

Leaving the value judgements aside, the phenomenon observed here was very real.  Although derided by some of their contemporaries the way we might refer to certain writers today as ‘hacks’, today’s post-modern age would seem to look more favourably on these writers.  They are also useful for us as historians to look at because their work represents a very specific form of social epistemology.  By merely skimming the surface of their culture to sift the most readily available elements, i.e. those that are ubiquitous enough to be readily recognisable to their target audience, these writers tap directly into the milieu and the common assumptions and neurosis that constitutes the mentality of their time and culture.  What is written on the spur of the moment will give us better idea of what was foremost in the collective consciousness than something that some great artist has slaved over and may well just be representative of his own idiosyncraticies.

This reflection and re-constitution of other writing and the conscious marketing of specific types of literature also led to the development and refinement of the various genre as we know them today in this period.  We can see a recurring pattern in how the genres develop, beginning with the works of a few popular and successful innovators, (e.g. Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories in The Strand or Erskine Childers’ The Riddle of The Sands which began the Spy Thriller genre).  This is followed by the imitation of the plot structures, imagery and other features of the works of the originators of the genre.  Harry Blythe’s detective fiction for example, featured Sexton Blake, another metropolitan Private detective who debuted in 1893 after Conan Doyle killed off Holmes at the Reichenback Falls and later took on many of the tropes and mannerisms of the Great Detective, such as an address on Baker Street, a bumbling side-kick and an endearingly working class housekeeper.[78]  Eventually the repeated tropes of the genre becomes iconic, a set of fixed features around which further development and innovation can take place that give the fiction a meta-identity and pre-established audience that it can be marketed towards.

This is the process that the science fiction and horror genres are going through in late Victorian Britain.  The idea space inhabited by Science fiction is initially marked out between popular “Science Romances” of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, who represent the originators of the schools of ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ science fiction respectively.[79]  Wells in particular was quite amazingly innovative, creating within a few short years many of what we now recognise as the typical science fiction themes; Time Travel, Alien Invasion, Invisibility, to name but a few.  Horror reappears from the shadows of the Penny Dreadful, to which it had been consigned by the mid century vogue for naturalism, through the re-emergence of gothic horror in the work of John Sheridan Le Fanu.  Le Fanu’s gothic horror stories are imitated by many, including Bram Stoker who reused many of the features of vampire fiction established in Le Fanu’s Carmilla in his novel Dracula[80] which establishes many new features of the horror genre and is imitated in turn by many others.

To conclude this section we should understand that the correlation between this shift in the mode of literary production, and the momentous events on the world stage of the late Victorian period is no coincidence.  The shift in the productive relations within publishing didn’t just facilitate the re-emergence of the Gothic in the late Victorian period, but were part of the same processes going on in the wider society that led to the new imperialism, the return of the class struggle and the beginnings of women’s liberation, all of which would provide inspiration for the thematic content of the same fantastic literature.  In the next chapter we will be looking at how the monsters that arose from these material conditions operated in the culture and how they reveal the anxieties unleashed by the development of Victorian capitalist society into the consumer society we have today.

Chapter 3

Monsters in Praxis

“Never-never, in any era,… has the Fantastic flourished so sinister and so terrifying as in modern life!  We live in a world full of sorcery.  The Fantastic surrounds us, worse than that, it invades us, chokes us and obsesses us – and one would have to be blind or very obstinate not to see that… we live, even in the fullness of modernity, in the midst of the damned, surrounded by the spectres of human heads and other horrors; that every day we brush up against vampires and ghouls.”
Jean Lorrain (1891)[81]

Now, having looked at the conditions in which monsters were formed in the last decades of the nineteenth Century, what is there to say about the forms that these creatures actually took?  We can review some of the recurring themes in the primary sources covered in this survey and discuss their possible wider significance. 

As we begin this chapter it should be pointed out that the intention is not to create some sort of mechanistic, “A ® B”, relationship between social tensions and their monstrous representations.  At least part of what this study is about is using monstrous tropes as a way of interrogating the irrational and unscientific aspect of the Victorian psyche.  If the irrational was removed by the Enlightenment from the mainstream discourses, then what we are doing is reading the unspoken underlying assumptions of the rational discourse back through their expression outside those discourses.  In doing so we can uncover aspects of the hidden rationale that underlay the actions of people and institutions in the fin de Siecle.  This is important because on their own the rational discourses rarely give a sufficient explanation for human actions.

In this period, as probably for most of human history, the rational and irrational discourses differed along class lines.  As Jonathan Rose has observed, the books the working class read tended to be a generation or so behind those of the middle class[82] and he convincingly attributes this to books generally only being available in their saleability cycle between being desirable new consumer items and antiquated collectibles.[83]  The interests and concerns of the two classes also differed a great deal, hence the range and content of their discourses would differ accordingly.  Therefore this chapter will be divided along this axis of class and function.  To begin with we will be looking at Monsters within the mainstream of Fin De Seicle popular culture.   

3.1 Monstrous constructions and Ruling class anxieties.

“And what is this attitude… of sniggering superiority punctuated by bursts of viscous hatred (?)  Look at any number of Punch during the past thirty years.  You will find it everywhere taken for granted that a working-class person, as such, is a figure of fun, except at odd moments when he shows signs of being too prosperous whereupon he ceases to be a figure of fun and becomes a demon.”

George Orwell[84]

          The rational discourses of the ruling classes were taking a profound turn in the late nineteenth century.  The notion of reason as the ideological backbone of the Bourgeois status quo had taken a profound knock in the form of the Paris commune in 1871.[85]  For the class that had come to power in the age of reason, the unreasonable nature of the slaughter that was required to put down the first socialist government meant that a profound epistemological shift had to occur[86] in order to assimilate these events into the bourgeois world-view.  Previously the working class had only been considered dangerous or potentially revolutionary in the context of an oppressive autocracy, which was equally oppressive to the interests of the Bourgeoisie.[87]  That such things could happen in supposedly enlightened France showed that the working classes were capable of acting independently in their own interests, and in establishing their own forms of political organisation.  It is no coincidence then that the social sciences were a product of this period.[88]

          Along with the creation of the social sciences, the progress of the natural sciences, long allied to capitalism, continued apace.  Out of these, particularly out of the increasingly sophisticated medical science, would emerge a series’ of pseudo-scientific discourses around evolution and human society.  However, these developments were not mere reactions to Darwinian, or any other scientific theory.  In fact they were an arguably necessary stage in the assumption of power and the final transition from an aristocratic to a bourgeois-capitalist society.[89]

The working class had stood beside the emergent middle classes in the heroic period of their revolutions against the land owning classes as a means to their own emancipation.  By the end of century, the middle class system had seized power and the old aristocracy had either emulated them or fallen by the wayside, they had accommodated themselves to the system and vice versa, the workers services in the vanguard of the liberal revolution was no longer required, all that was required of them was that they work.  The British workers had retained their allegiance to the radical liberal ideology, and the great working class movement of the mid-century, Chartism, had been essentially reformist in its demands, but as the conflict in interests between the two classes became apparent this allegiance faltered and failed.[90]  Furthermore, while the developing capitalist economy was bringing more income to the workers in absolute terms, education and a greater degree of social mobility than hitherto known, it also increased social inequality and the nature of work became increasingly invasive into the privacy of the workers, both by demanding more working hours[91] and increasing regulation of the working day.[92] From 1875 popular socialist parties flourished across Europe, and while Britain would not see the foundation of the Labour Party until 1901, there was already a “Labour Representative Committee” within the Liberal Party which held seats in parliament and a distinctly new movement towards unionising “unskilled” labour.

For the ruling classes the threat was readily apparent.  The workers had already overthrown one social order, and in the Paris commune had shown themselves capable of organising and governing themselves.  Now, once again people were talking in hushed voices of a new world and shouting their defiance on the barricades.  If the early gothic was underlain by an anxiety at the overthrow of the feudal order that had been in control literally since before time immemorial, then a distinct form of later Victorian gothic surfaced at the end of the century that would be about the anxieties of the usurper-class at being overcome in turn themselves.

In this context, what we have discussed in the previous chapter as the rational discourse constituted a social-scientific/medical discourse around the working class, as well as more obviously classist discourse of pseudo-scientific taxonomical classifications.  A significant function of the rational discourse was to create a necessary psychological condition of distance between the powerful and those over whom power was exercised.  It seems that in order to exercise power it was necessary to overcome the natural affinity we as human beings feel towards other members of our species, particularly for a class that had come to power partly through articulating a rhetoric of egalitarianism and liberation.  In practice this meant it was necessary to conceive of the subjects of power as an inert mass - the term, “The Masses” passed into popular usage among intellectuals at about this time.[93]  Thus rendered the masses could be reconstructed.  In times of conflict they could be recreated as sufficiently different to the norm that the rules of society that restrict what one human being could do to another did not apply.  Also, they could be reconstructed in such a way as to manage this fear by diminishing the threat posed by the masses and within this they could be constructed as mentally diminished to the extent that they required leadership.  In the context of the post-darwinian science of the rational discourse this expressed itself in the irrational formulation that “The Masses” were somehow a different species.

          The teratology of the masses in the irrational discourse of late Victorian Gothic reflects this.  Within the rational discourse there existed in the late nineteenth century a series of recurring arguments around the notion of “Degeneration”.  In the late nineteenth century the difference in dietary and living conditions of working class life meant that often there was a perceivable physical difference between members of different classes, and usually the industrial workers suffered by the comparison.  From this grain of truth emerged a socio-biological theory that the effects of town life on the inhabitants of the expanding industrial centers of Britain - and London in particular – was pushing the evolution of the species backwards, at least for those classes so affected.[94]  That this simple case of mass malnourishment metamorphisised into a gothic construction of the working class shows almost better than anything, the pervasiveness of the irrational within public discourse.

          So now, turning to the gothic literature, the first great ur-text of this fiction of degeneration to be published in the period under consideration was Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde.[95]  The novella was written in October of 1885 as a quick chiller to satisfy the Christmas market, just as another story had been the previous year.[96] Despite these inauspicious origins, the book was an immediate success, giving Stevenson financial independence for the first time in his life.[97]  Indeed this is a good example of the phenomenon explained in the last chapter of a quickly composed commercial story being able to pick up on the cultural climate better than something that a lot of thought had been put into, the success of the story being an indication of the chord it struck with the public.

The basic story behind Jekyll and Hyde is ubiquitous so it hardly seems worth going over the plot, but there are some pertinent points in the original book[98] that haven’t survived the transfiguration of the story from a text into a legend.  The story is framed as a mystery, an investigation by the protagonist, Utterson and some of his circle, into the strange association between his friend Henry Jekyll and another man Edward Hyde.  In the first chapters part of the novella we already have the introduction of the class nature of Hyde’s origins, the first possible explanation for the association between the two men put forward in the text is that Hyde has blackmailed his way into Jekylls beneficence;

Blackmail I suppose, an honest man paying through the nose for some of the capers of his youth...[99]

So much connoted in those few words.  The obvious implication to a Victorian reader would have been homosexuality.  In his introduction to the current Penguin Classics edition, Robert Mighall points out that for a middle aged bachelor to be paying the way for a younger man (who isn’t a relative, and is unknown to his oldest friends) against the background of the recent criminalisation of homosexuality the year before (in the so-called “blackmailer’s charter”) an erotic connection was the obvious explanation.[100]  The class implications are more subtle because we can follow this line of connotation into the practice of Victorian Gentlemen in traversing the boundaries of acceptable sexuality, and quite literally the spatial boundaries between the classes in search of rough trade.  Even before his fantastic origins are revealed, Hyde is already a specifically “classed”[101] species of monster – the proletarian blackmailer seeking to upset the boundaries of human decency and the web of secrets that holds society together.

The physical characteristics of Hyde also suggest the inner-city degenerated prole.  As the critic John Sutherland points out, the description of Hyde’s physical appearance is deliberately obscure[102] as, like Frankenstein’s Monster,[103] Hyde’s monstrosity is self evident but indefinable.  The features that are given however do carry class connotations.  The most consistent feature across the novella is Hyde’s height; ‘“particularly small and particularly wicked looking” is what the maid calls him’ according to a police investigator of the case.[104]  Height was, according to degeneration theorists, one of the signs of physical deterioration of the Urban poor[105] “a stunted growth is characteristic of the race”.[106]  The diminished height and aspect of the urbanite was taken by the degenerationists as indicative of the diminishment of that section of the species as a whole.  We should also note that one particular characteristic of Hyde’s height seems to speak particularly of the fear of a resurgent working class, namely that he was getting bigger, and that ‘the balance of (Jekyll’s) nature would be permanently overthrown’.[107]

Similarly, the only other features of Hyde given with any specificity, his hands, are also implicitly framed in terms of class.  Hyde describes his own hands as,
“professional in shape and size…and comley”[108], in comparison with Hyde’s, which is “lean, corded, knuckly, of a dusky pallor and thickly shaded with a thwart growth of hair”.[109]  This description becomes more elaborate in the various revisions made by Stevenson as the novel is printed and re-printed.  In the original the comparison with Hyde’s hand isn’t given.[110]  This is perhaps indicative of the interactive relationship between texts and the reading public whereby the mythic resonance in the collective imagination feeds back into the text itself, changing it.[111]

The more intangible aspects of Hyde’s various descriptions also display a particular reverberation of class-degeneration discourses.  In some senses these impressionistic features are more important because they are trying to convey feeling and emotion, and hence engage the deeper, sub-conscious sites of reception where irrational prejudices situated.  The apeishness of Hyde is something that is continuously emphasised through the text.  In the ‘ape-like fury’ of his assault on Danvers Carew is noted by the maid who witnessed the attack,[112] Jekyll’s man-servant Poole describes him as moving like “a monkey” as he happened upon him in Jekyll’s chambers.[113]  The inference here isn’t hard to decipher.  Concerns about and theories on man’s relationship with the simian were quite common in zoological discourses in the nineteenth century, pre-dating Darwin’s publication of The Origin of the Species.[114]  To the degenerationists it followed logically that if the Ape was the closest relative of Homo Sapiens then that was the direction the degenerates and other less evolved sections of humanity were heading.  Furthermore, there was a convergence between this scientific discourse and representations of the criminal, particularly political violence (and usually Irish nationalists of various stripes[115]).  Within this politicised context any political action of the organised sections of the Irish workers and peasants, from the extremely moderate agitation of O’Connell’s movement through the confrontational, thought not violent, political action of the Parnell-era agitation around the Home-Rule bill and into the terrorism of the IRB[116] could all be characterised in biological terms as originating from some hereditary propensity towards violence.  Ironically this did as much of a disservice to the Gorillas as it did to the Irish.  Gorillas are actually an extremely placid species who spend most of their time feeding or sleeping, but this misrepresentation of the Gorilla within the rational discourse of Zoology is quite explicable in this context of justifying an irrational social myth of racial monstrosity.

That this simian trope emerges in Jekyll and Hyde, which in no other way appears to allude to an Irish (or indeed any other) colonial discourse, at that point in history, is significant because what it suggests is that the working class movement in Britain had inherited some of the same anxieties generated by the Irish nationalists.  Since the defeat of the first general strike in 1842 and the end of the chartist movement in the later part of the 1840s, the class struggle in Britain had been de-railed and the efforts of the following generation of activists went into less confrontational modes of working class organisation, chiefly the co-operative movement.[117]  From that time the main organised mass movement to challenge the British State hegemony had been in Ireland.[118]  It is quite clear, at least in the Irish context, that organisation was central to bourgeois anxieties.  Disorganised, the Irish can be dismissed, even sympathised with to a degree, but when they organise themselves they become monstrous.  Chris Baldick has noted that a paternalistic sympathy for the plight of British workers that changes swiftly to abject hatred and disgust at working class organisation is evident in literature from around the mid point in the century, for example in the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell.[119]  As the British working class began to organise themselves again around the mid-1880s[120] and the first stirrings of the ‘New Unionism’ were felt the British working man again became a threat, it doesn’t seem like a great leap to suggest that they were also subject to a transference of irrational discourse.  In other words, for a bourgeoisie that was already accustomed to thinking about organised mass political dissidence in terms of anthropomorphic monstrosity, when presented with a similar social phenomenon they would naturally assimilate this information utilising the same thought tracks. 

Part of that linguistic construction of the class conflict would also have drawn on - and indeed been shaped by - some of the older deep myths of western culture.  One of these that is evident in Stevenson’s novella is the story of Esau and Jacob from the Old Testament.[121]  This story of the “hairy” twin dispossessed of his birthright also has resonance, ironically considering the secularism of the author, in H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine.  Again this is tied into a monstrous and animalistic construction of class conflict albeit expressed in much a more direct form.
Title Page of the 1st edition
In Wells’s vision of the future, civilisation has fallen and mankind has literally degenerated into two species, a gracile sub-species of “little people”, called ‘Eloi’, that live on the surface and the monstrous ‘Morlocks’ that live and toil beneath the ground, looking after the material needs of the Eloi.  As China Miéville points out,[122] Wells doesn’t require much deep analysis to decipher the imagery in his novels because quite often he tells us what they mean quite explicitly within the text.  The way in which the relationship between classes under industrial capitalism develops into the Eloi and Morlocks is spelt out quite explicitly on pages 48-49 of the current (2006) Penguin Classics edition.  Furthermore, he is quite explicit in the teratology of the Morlocks, how they become bleached white because of their habit of living subterranean:

…[E]ven now there are existing circumstances to point that way…does not and East End worker live in such conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the Earth?[123]

It emerges later in the novel that contrary to his earlier belief, the Eloi aren’t in charge of the situation and in fact the vents apparent all over the surface aren’t just there to provide air to the underground kingdom of the Morlocks, but are also access points from which they emerge at night to drag the Eloi down to be butchered and eaten. 

Within this binary the Morlocks are on top, in other words this isn’t the fear of the, ‘mutual ruination of the contending classes’, but a nightmarish vision of a sort of proletarian victory.  Wells was a Fabian, i.e. he believed in an evolutionary vision of socialism to be imposed onto society from the top down by a cadre of intellectual supermen, ‘Samurai’ as he termed it, for the benefit of all.  As much as he was a socialist, the idea of class conflict and an independent working class movement trying to impose its own interests on society was as horrific to him as it was to Mrs Gaskell writing half a century earlier.  Moreover, out of these two sub-species the sympathy of the reader is firmly with the Eloi.  There isn’t any particular sense of the tragedy of Morlocks as fallen humanity.  Also, considering the incidence of capitalist-as-pig metaphors in the culture of the time and the Elois role in the plot as food animals, there is little to nothing made of this potentially fruitful source of imagery.[124]  To the extent that the reader’s sympathy is with anyone in the novel it is firstly with the Time-Traveller, (who if the Morlocks and Eloi represent the workers and capitalists certainly represents the intellectual) then the Eloi, with the Morlocks on the bottom.[125]

Even though Wells explicitly sets out the meaning of his parable, we can still read the teratology of the Morlocks within a wider inter-textual nexus of social anxieties.  The cannibalistic nature of the Morlocks draws on centuries’ worth of anxieties about colonialism dating back to the first age of capitalist expansion in the Early Modern period.[126]  Moreover both of the degenerated sub-species in the novel are physically smaller than modern man.  As with Edward Hyde, we can see this idea of physical height and its relation to the degeneration of the species being played out in the construction of the Morlocks.

In Well’s second novel, The Island of Doctor Moreau, the theme of the working class as another species is less overt, but the imagery is much sharper.  The story is fairly simple – a traveller, through ill fortune ends up stranded on an island where a surgeon/vivisectionist, Dr. Moreau, has been trying to create rational man-like beings by cutting up animals and suturing them back together again.  Moreau is killed by one of his experiments and the island descends into chaos without him and the traveller eventually escapes back to civilisation. 

          The class element in this parable is in the details.  Dr. Moreau hasn’t just re-constructed animal matter into the humanoid form, but animal behaviour into an approximation of human society.  Moreau and his assistant, Montgomery, constitute a ruling class, over the beast people.  The protagonist, again a rational man of science – much like the author – is an intellectual whose place in this mini-society is somewhere in between the humans and the Beast Folk.  Like the ruling class, Moreau controls the beast folk through a series of laws that are held almost as a religion and enforced by the religious awe that the Beast folk have of him.  Moreau also monopolises the ownership of the firearms on the island for use against any Beast-man transgressing against the rule of law, thus maintaining his position as the sole a force with the licence to inflict pain and even death onto other people in the same way that the state reserves the right to punish and even kill anyone transgressing against its code of laws.

The proletarian nature of the beast people is evident in their description.  John
Carey sees a continuity between the repellent nature of the beast folk and the repulsion felt by the Victorian intellectual for the masses.[127]  There is a lot of textual evidence to support this assertion.  The space on the island the beast folk inhabit is couched in terms reminiscent of the gothicised Victorian slum, particularly in the section of the novel after Moreau dies and the beast-folk start reverting to their animal nature – literally degenerating.  Their faces are almost uniformly prognathous,[128] a feature they have in common with the Victorian stereotype of the Irish male.[129]

          As Prendick lives on the island the lines between Beast-man and human begin to blur as he sees the human aspect that has been trained into them.  Interestingly, in both the examples given by the text the human characteristics he sees allude to the lower classes;

I would see one of the bovine creatures…treading heavily through the undergrowth, and find myself trying hard to recall how he differed from some really human yokel trudging home from his mechanical labours; or I would meet the Fox-Bear Woman’s vulpine shifty face, strangely human in its speculative cunning, and even imagine I had met it before in some city byway.[130]

This seems to implicitly support the idea that workers retain more of the animal-in-man than their social and intellectual superiors.
          When Prendick returns to society, he finds the lines between man and animal permanently obscured.[131]  Not only has he picked up some of the wildness of his companions but, as he puts it;

I could not persuade myself that the men and women I met were not also… beast-people… and that they would presently begin to revert… I feel as though the animal was surging up through them and the degradation of the Islanders will be played over again on a larger scale.[132]

          Again Wells helpfully decodes the imagery of the novel for us.  This is the most explicit articulation of the trope of degeneration in the fantastic literature of the period I have yet come across.  Curiously, Well’s novels are conspicuously absent from the current literature on Degeneration Theory and it isn’t that they don’t utilise literary sources either.  In fact, the majority of studies on Degeneration Theory that examine popular notions of degeneration through the lens of contemporaneous literature tend to be about Bram Stokers novel Dracula.  This is particularly interesting when you consider that while Wells’s scientific romances were genuinely popular[133] in the 1890s compared to Dracula. Though it sold well enough[134] in it’s day, Dracula only became really popular in the twentieth century with the advent of cinema and the early cinematic adaptations,[135] which don’t feature any of the degenerative aspects of the novel.  It is perhaps partly for this reason, i.e. that it is so well known as to be omnipresent in our culture, recreated and adapted at some point in every generation, while it’s original meaning isn’t remembered, that Dracula receives the attention that Wells doesn’t.

          Of course another reason why there is a particular emphasis on Dracula is that the author explicitly characterises the eponymous Count Dracula in pseudo-scientific terms and name-checks the fathers of degeneration theory.  The Count is described as “criminal and of criminal type”,[136] and we are assured that “Nordau and Lombroso would classify him so”.[137]

          Dracula is an extremely complex novel and can be read in a number of ways, but at its heart is the synergy between the vampyric imagery from the older gothic tradition and the particularly late Victorian crisis and its psychological fall-out in the discourses around degeneration.  The ‘literary sleuth[138]’ Elizabeth Millar, commenting on the tendency of modern critics like Salli Kline to see Dracula’s physical features as originating with Lombroso, seems to half-dismiss the idea, pointing out that while Stoker’s description of Dracula does correspond to Lombroso’s criminal man we have a direct source for Dracula’s features in the work of the Victorian folklorist Sabine Baring-Gould.[139]  Actually, one could synthesise these two points to say that it is no coincidence that Lombroso’s Criminal Type corresponds to a folkloric/pre-Enlightenment notion of monstrosity (doubtless Stoker would not have seen it as such) or that this convergence manifests itself in Gothic literature.

Dracula, more so that Well’s novels or Stevenson’s Strange Case follows the pattern of the classic gothic in that it is a story of the clash between the old pre-Enlightenment world of peasant superstition (often associated with Catholicism) and the new world of protestant reason (and its offspring, science).  It takes after the long tradition of Vampire stories within the gothic that began with Polidori’s The Vampyre.[140]  In the earlier stories the class antagonism between the aristocracy and bourgeoisie is evident.  As the bourgeoisie and aristocracy syncretise into a new capitalist ruling class over the course of the nineteenth Century, the later vampire gothic appears to be predicated on the fear of the peasantry.  In the British context this took on a particularly Irish flavour.  It’s no coincidence that the two greatest Vampire authors of the later nineteenth century, John Sheridan Le Fanu and Bram Stoker, were both Anglo-Irish.[141]  The early chapters in Dracula, where the Urban Anglican high-churchman finds himself in the un-nerving company of a superstitious peasantry, might well be read as reflecting the author’s experience of being Urban Anglo-Irishman amidst the superstitious peasantry of Ireland.

 Into this lap of the old world, seemingly un-touched by the reformation, not withstanding the Enlightenment or industrial revolution, comes Harker and with him the modern world of phonographs, short hand and the up to the minute science of physiognomy.  At the heart of Dracula, underneath the details, is a fear that despite all our technology and science there are things older and stranger than us in this world that mere ephemera like firearms, phonographs and the steam engine cannot overcome.  Yet in the end these are the things that defeat Dracula, giving the novel a particular reading as a way of containing and managing this anxiety.  This echoes the positivist context of the society in which the book was written.  For writers after the shocks of the early twentieth century (American Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft being the most prominent example) this subtext comes to the fore and becomes the source of the horror, and modernity is utterly impotent.[142]

          The teratology of Dracula himself has been described, notably by Stephen Arata,[143] as representing a panorama of Victorian anxieties about a variety of contemporaneous issues.  Even bearing in mind Robert Mighalls quite reasonable criticism of many critics of Dracula as engaged in a gothicising project themselves,[144] we can clearly see how Dracula touches on these various issues of gender and femininity[145] and anxieties over Empire.[146]  In the context of the monstrous construction of the working class, what we see in Dracula is not so much the working class as another species, though it does draw on tropes from the degeneration discourse,[147] but the monstrous foreigner.  At the time Dracula was written there had been a large movement of eastern Europeans into Britain, many of them Jews fleeing the pogroms.  Then as now there was a great anxiety around the coming of so many immigrants, not only from the working classes who would face competition from these migrants in the labour market, but also from the very classes who would objectively benefit from them.  That Dracula amalgamates anxieties about Imperial decline, racial degeneration with the monstrous construction of the working classes into a xenophobic and anti-semetic[148] nightmare of a reversal of colonialism, could perhaps explain this persistent irrational response to the perennial social-economic phenomenon of emigration.

To close this section on the use of the monstrous in the class struggle by the bourgeoisie, one recurring motif that has not been covered but certainly deserves some consideration is the violation of bourgeois space by proletarian bodies.  Recent social historians have noted that one of the key points of the development of bourgeois identity was the creation of the home, i.e. the demarcation of private space within the familial homestead.  This also relates to Bryan Turner’s theory of the social order, which is that the social order functions in a very specific manner, i.e. as the restriction of the human body.[149]  One facet of the social order in Turner’s conception is the restriction of the body in space – where you can or can’t go in general life and the restriction of certain deviant bodies to institutions like prisons or lunatic asylums, which will themselves each contain a highly codified system of restriction.

Taking a dialectic approach to Turner’s theory of the social order, one can see that this idealistic creation of boundaries and immaterial borders also contains within itself its own negation, the transgression of those boundaries.  So, with this creation of the safe space of the bourgeois household came the anxiety of the fear of the violation of that space.  In some sense this fear of the interloper in the safe space of the homestead has always existed in monster literature, in Beowulf from the Tenth century for example, the moment of panic is when Grendel invades Heorot, the hall of king Hrothgar.  At the end of the Nineteenth century, as these nightmares of violated space are located with great specificity within the bourgeois household, these themes emerge not just in the horror literature of the day but also (though a few decades later) within the rational discourse, at the beginning of the pseudo-science of psychology.[150]

Two of the best-known examples of the type, The Horla by Guy De Maupassant[151] and Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw[152], are stories of incorporeal and indefinable horrors in bourgeois country retreats.  Monleon points out that these settings are away from the terrors of the inner cities that had been created by capital but somewhere that was also very much an extension of city life.[153]

The way in which these stories relate to the monstrous construction of the working class is through the invasion of and usurpation of the space.  This is most obvious in The Turn of The Screw, where the monsters are the shades of servants that are trying to possess the children of the household,[154] though no less evident in The Horla for that.  The Horla itself is an invisible vampiric force that slowly usurps and drains the life from the unnamed narrator.  In his diary entries he fears that one day creatures superior to man will cross the void of space to conquer mankind, “just as the Norsemen formerly crossed the sea to subjugate nations more feeble than themselves”.[155]  Norsemen, or indeed his contemporaries in his own Third Republic and their counterparts in the rest of Europe who were crossing their own seas to subjugate nations more feeble than themselves.  This puts The Horla in the same tradition of anxieties of reverse-colonialism as Dracula and The War of the Worlds, of which its author would say “they (the martian invaders) did to us what we did to the Tasmanians”.[156]  He also fears that the Horla would “Make of man what we have made of the Horse and the Ox: his chattel, his slave and his food”.[157]  In other words he will re-order the economic relations to put himself in an exploitative relationship with man.  This is a classic example of what Freud called Projection, the act of attributing your own taboo thoughts and emotions onto others.

Throughout the nineteenth century the European bourgeoisie conquered and enslaved most of the rest of the world and created an industrial system of exploitation in their own countries.  I would argue that we can tell a little of what they felt about that through the monsters they created who were eternally on the verge of doing exactly the same thing to them.  Possibly the only thing they did to those they exploited that they did not fanaticise about someone or some thing doing to them was to construct their subjects in as monstrous/inhuman.  Perhaps this was because they did not have to fanaticise about it because the working classes were perfectly well up to the task themselves, which is what we are going to be looking at in the next section.

3.2 Bloodsuckers, Dark Gods and Capitalist Pigs.

“It raises the question… for socialists, ‘do we want to be the monster or do we want to destroy the monster?’  And the answer of course is ‘Yes’”.
China Méiville at Marxism 2005

          In looking at the literature of the working class we are moving now from the relative certainties of literary and intellectual history into the obscure netherworld of the largely unrecorded and unknown.  The working class, or more properly the working classes, of late Victorian Britain were an extremely heterodox with a large range of attitudes and experiences including a not insubstantial proportion who would have fully assimilated the attitudes of the hegemonic discourse, as discussed in the last section.[158]  This section therefore cannot claim to encompass the fears of the working class as a whole, but we can perhaps make a start on sections of the British working class that were conscious of themselves and their interests as a class and some of the pre-Labour party working class movement through examining the cultural artefacts produced by and for that movement and in opposition to the prevailing cultural hegemony of the time.

One of the problems we face here is that there isn’t a comparable tradition of monster literature within the literature produced by the working class novelists of the time and nor would there be until the twentieth century.  The working class novelists of the fin de seicle tended to write naturalist semi-autobiographical novels about the working-class experience, trying to rescue themselves from the enormous condescension of history.  Such fantastic literature as we have from the socialist movement of the period tends to come from middle and upper class socialists that have got into the movement through a moral or aesthetic critique of capitalism rather than those from the working class movement.  To find the irrational discourse within the culture of the British workers we shall have to look at alternative sources.  As I’ve already indicated in the introduction, the sources I will be looking at are drawn from the radical press of the 1880s and 1890s, and most of that from the pages of Justice and The Clarion.

Another problem in compiling a study of the irrational discourse of the working class movement is that, within the scarce material that remains of any working class discourse, there is so little of it.  Part of this is undoubtedly due to the practical constraints the two papers had upon them.  The arguments put forwards had to be clear and concise to be convincing.  Most of the typed content of Justice and The Clarion was news reportage and engagement with contemporary issues with the practical restrictions of a small press and in the pared-down journalistic idiom.  Compounding this is that the sort of place within these newspapers where we might find some imaginative content, i.e. cartoons/illustrations are also harder to produce on the smaller budget these papers had to work from.  Justice, like some of its modern day counterparts[159] was not run as a business but rather for party propaganda and (some would argue more importantly) as an organisational activity for the party.  The Clarion did run at a profit, but a modest one by the standards of the day.  Much of such fiction or poetry as did appear in the two newspapers was generally similar to the naturalistic semi-autobiographical working class fiction I’ve mentioned above.

That said, within the odd articles, cartoons, bits of fiction, songs and poetry that can be found, there was an interesting reoccurrence of certain tropes that may give us a window into the hidden world of the irrational discourse of the working class movement.

          A part of the rational discourse of the Working class movement was Marxism.  Although the influence of Marxism on the labour movement was limited in Britain during this period[160] it was certainly known to the explicitly Marxist Social Democratic Federation.  Recently Marx’s biographer Francis Wheen has called for the signature piece of Marx’s oeuvre,  Das Kapital, to be re-evaluated as an artistic achievement and the first masterpiece of Modernism.[161]  Whether this is wholly accurate is debatable, but the artistic content of Kapital and its impact on the teratology of the working class are undeniable.  Marx’s writings, and particularly the three volumes of Das Kapital, are full of Gothic imagery, monsters, and literary and mythological allusion.

So many of these images from Kapital recur through the monstrous imagery of the working class movement in Britain that it is tempting to regard it as an ur-text for this aspect of the creative output of the movement.  Certainly the Marxist SDF’s newspaper Justice uses a lot of Marx’s gothic imagery in its editorials and news reports.

One particular image that seems to have had a lot of mileage out of is that of the Vampire.  It was Engels who first talked about the “vampire property holding class”[162] but Marx develops this into a consistent element of his characterisation of the bourgeoisie’s condition and as an extension of his conception of the rule of, “dead labour” over, “living labour”.[163]  As well as representing the aristocratic upper classes in the mainstream gothic literature since the late Enlightenment, the vampire in it’s act of parasitism - a dead creature feeding off the living - could connote in very simple and emotive language the exploitative relationship between the employer and employee.  This connection is made quite specifically in Justice in an article on shareholders in capitalist corporations, entitled “The Vampires of To-Day”.[164]  The article doesn’t give any particularly ghoulish details of misdeeds shareholders, its just a comment on figures that had been released showing that returns were up for 1887 on the year before.

The Vampire theme is also presented in Walter Crane’s The Capitalist Vampire,[165] which was a special commission for Justice.  The symbolism is quite straightforward, the angel of socialism swooping down to protect the stricken worker from the huge bat-dog creature of capitalism, which has “Religious Hypocrisy” and “Party Politics” down each wing.  The content of the imagery is rendered quite explicitly in the notice on the front page of the issue carrying the cartoon:

The glutinous, evil, loathsome, appearance which the artist has given to the vampire “Capitalism” is worthy of the very creature which is preying upon the very vitals of the people of England and the world.[166]

That said, the use of this Marxist-Gothic isn’t exclusive to the press of an explicitly Marxist persuasion.  Another of Marx’s most famous images from the first paragraph of the Communist Manifesto, the spectre of Communism,[167] occurs in the Clarion in a cartoon from 1898.[168]  That this would appear in The Clarion suggests that Kapital wasn’t so much an Ur-Text for the movement (except arguably within the metropolitan SDF) but drew on the same wider current of imagery that was thrown up by the interaction of the new modes of production with the earlier folk-culture from which the authors were removed by only a generation or so removed.

Chris Baldick points out that Marx’s use of Gothic and monstrous imagery is “no mere stylistic flourish, but a consistent ironic reversal of the Bourgeoisie’s own myth”.[169]  Part of how Das Kapital works is the way it constructs and personifies the capitalist system, not as the Old Testament god-like world-balancer of Malthus or with the benevolent “hidden hand” of Adam Smith, but as a monster.

Although we can’t make a case for the direct influence of Das Kapital, this idea of the capitalist system as something unfathomably huge recurs in various guises throughout the socialist and working class press of the time.  In an untitled cartoon in The Clarion on the subject of the Trades Federation for example, Capital is clearly depicted as a gigantic dragon-like monster menacing the much smaller figure of the Worker.[170]  While the picture referred to above is one of defiance in the face of adversity, the Worker being armed like a mythic hero with artefacts imbued with special properties, (the Shield marked Trades Federation and protective armour marked Labour) himself towering over the landscape at nearly the same scale as the monster, its more common to find the system portrayed as a dark and malevolent godlike being.

The name Moloch is often used to signify the creature.  In traditional medieval superstition (and Milton’s Paradise Lost), Moloch was associated with child-sacrifice.  In this period, when Child labour was an on-going part of the reality of labour, the metaphorical potency of the image was obvious.  One example of this in the working class literature is the short story, The Modern Moloch[171] which originated in America but was reproduced in The Yorkshire Factory Times.  In the story itself a Doctor visits a factory and witnessess the death of an 11-year-old boy-worker.  The story puts the responsibility for the death on the prevailing conditions the child lived under, and though his father beat the child to death, the title (Moloch is not mentioned in the text) and the gothicised personification of the ‘ravenous’ machinery makes it very clear where, in the opinion of the anonymous author, the cause of the death lies.

          The Moloch archetype also seems to have been part of the international socialist movement outside Britain.  In Émile Zola’s 1885 industrial novel Germinal, the coal pit the novel is set around is described in monstrous terms;
…huddled in its lair like some evil beast, Le Voreaux crouched ever lower and its breath came in longer and deeper gasps as though it were struggling to digest its meal of human flesh.[172]

The motif is also evident through the period under discussion and into the early twentieth century.  The Russian Marxist-Feminist pioneer, Alexandra Kollontai uses the phrase, ‘the modern Moloch of capital’ in her speech to the first International Women’s Socialist Conference at Stuttgart in 1907[173] and Fritz Liang’s impressionist Science Fiction masterpiece Metropolis also contains a scene where the protagonist has a vision wherein the factory the workers toil to maintain becomes Moloch – identified as such by a rather striking intertitle with the letters M O L O C H splayed across the screen in the Modernist style.

          What all this represents for the workers’ movement is the expression within the irrational discourse of a particular strain of the radical critique of capitalism.  This critique is the idea that capitalism is not just a form of economic activity, but constitutes a religion.  Earlier elements of this idea appear in the works of some pre-Marxist thinkers, but Marx first iterates it with rigour in his theory of commodity fetishism.  Marx borrows the term ‘fetishism’[174] from the early sociology of religion to describe the way in which capitalism imbues objects with certain transcendental characteristics to turn them into commodities and the humans that produce them into objects of labour.  The German Marxist Walter Benjamin would later broadly examine the idea of capitalism as a religion from a sociological perspective, equating the department store with the Cathedral and consumerism with an abstracted form of piety.

          The implications for the mentality of those engaged in the movement are more complicated.  For Christian socialists this would have further grist to their theological mills, identifying capitalism and capitalist practice as another faith in an antagonistic relationship with their own.  For secular socialists, to expose and reinforce the idea that capital is a religion is to strengthen the notion of capitalism as a set of rules and ideas, something that is essentially man-made and can be overcome by alternative ideas (which is itself the root of another idea that originates with Marx, Historical Materialism).  The status quo likes to present itself as natural and inevitable, and these notions are undermined by conceptualising capitalism as a religion.  In other words these early socialists are inching towards the intellectual currents of the mid-to-late twentieth century.

Conversely, one aspect of these images is the size of the creatures in relation to the workers and the implicit capacity of a god to reek havoc and destruction.  We have to remember that although the socialist movement is growing they are still small as a proportion of the population, and also that while the power of the institutions of the working classes is growing they still remain in a vulnerable position.  This god-like rendering of the capitalist state might just as well reflect anxieties about the scale of what they are facing and the immensities of the tasks set for them.

           One article in Justice entitled “The Modern Minotaur”[175] made extensive and telling use of both the Vampiric and Molochian imagery at the same time;

Well might the fable of the Cretan Minotaur, the monster who could only be appeased by a sacrifice of young virgins, have been the foreshadowing of the horrors engendered by the Capitalist system.  Country after country and race after race have been sacrificed to the insatiable and beastly greed of the capitalists.  Only by blood can the system be kept alive.  Once more we are in a period of industrial depression ; all the markets of the “civilised” world are glutted, and it is necessary that the maidenhead of a fresh market be taken.  China is the country to be delivered up this time and already the capitalist press is making merry over the prospect of its master’s strength being renewed by fresh draughts of a nation’s life blood.[176]

          There are three things that are interesting about the above quotation.  Firstly the fluidity between the use of the quasi-religious and vampiric imagery suggests that in the construction of the capitalist system these were not discreet categories, rather they fed into and supported each other.  Secondly, the imagery is overtly sexual and penetration of the market into new areas is not merely sexual but rapacious.  This I feel is related to the third point, the context shown in the article, i.e. the opening up of China by the west.

          Generally speaking, one could read this as an extension of and reaction two the sexual nature of imperialism within the irrational discourse, for example in the presentation of Africa in the novels of Rider Haggard.[177]  Furthermore, in the various articles in Justice I’ve come across the most common topic for those that contain a use of monstrous imagery is imperialism and empire.  It is hard to say why this is, but I would hypothesise one reason is that when discussing domestic issues such flourishes would be unnecessary as the target audience, the metropolitan working classes, would have their own experiences to draw on, in presenting news about the empire it becomes necessary to imaginatively recreate the world, just as imperialists imaginatively recreate the empire themselves in order to colonise it.  On the one hand the colonial discourse gives us the good coloniser; - the Christian Soldier, the Missionary or the Rhodes figure.  To combat this one needed to present the other side, the “Ghouls” who desecrated the grave of the Mahdi after the re-taking of the Sudan[178] or the “Gold Greedy Ghouls”[179] who were behind the aggression against the Boers.

Another way to engage with the monstrifying tropes of the dominant cultural hegemony is to agree with them while subverting their implications to the ends of the working class movement. Getting back for a moment to the discourse around the notion of degeneration, again we can see the rhetorical tactic of inversion in the way that the polemicists of the workers movement appropriated this discourse and turned it around to their own ends.  For example, Daniel Pick has pointed out that the social reality of degeneration was even in evidence in the great socialist novel, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, though it was articulated to demonstrate the necessity of socialist revolution[180].  This can also be seen in a story that appeared in Justice, ‘A Fairy Tale for Tired Socialists’[181].  The story itself is a fairly straightforward didactic allegory of the workers place in society, it begins with a man in a land of plenty who could take advantage of the riches and wonders around him because of the various ‘enchantments’ laid on him, e.g. Custom, Fear etc.  Of particular relevance is the section on how the ‘enchantment’, effected his physical appearance;

And through enchantment the man became ugly and evil visaged.  His hands became course and hard, his back bent and his brows lowering and beetled, for, because of the enchantment, he had to toil long and labouriously.[182]

While there are similarities here between the description of the man in the story and gothic depictions of the urban worker[183], by putting the emphasis on the labour as the cause of the deformity it removes the taint of the hereditary explanation.  The discourse of degeneration was partly rooted in the social reality of a real disparity in the physical condition of the classes, a reality and a potential grievance which socialists could exploit.

          Similarly, the socialist press could also take the monstrous characterisation of themselves by the upper classes and ironically represent it in such a way as to highlight the absurdity of it.  In 1892 the Clarion published a cartoon in response to a letter from the Duchess of Portland to the Primrose League in 1892.[184]  The part of the letter quoted was an attack on;

Those mischievous and dishonest men who attempt, for their own selfish glorification and advantage, to set class against class and stir up ill feeling.[185]

The cartoon above the excerpt depicts the socialist agitator in full demonic form with horns, cats-eyes and a spiked tail protruding from under his greatcoat.  By responding to this attempt to demonise socialists in such a direct manner the cartoonist was able to highlight in a comical manner the ridiculousness of the statement.  Bakhtin said of the subversive nature of laughter that it purifies the consciousness of men from what is false[186] and bring those at all levels of society to the same standing.[187]  This spirit is very much in evidence in this cartoon as well most of the humorous depictions of members of capitalists and landlords in The Clarion e.g. the depictions of the wealthy as grotesque animal-men in ‘Piggy’s Property’[188] and ‘The Crocodile MP’.[189]  There is certainly a strong contrast between this playful use of man-animal imagery in these cartoons and the animalistic construction of the working class in the contemporary popular literature.

The depiction of the ‘Socialist Agitator as Monster’ also raises another issue, that of identification with the Monster.  We have already come across this apparently contradictory desire to reconstruct yourself as a monster, in Marx’s assertion in the Manifesto of the Communist Party that they, the movement that he was a part of, are the spectre Haunting Europe.  Obviously a large part of this is the desire to be a threat and therefore to be feared by the enemies of the movement.  Going back to the theories around Monsters in art and literature we find the idea of the monster as existing always at the point of immanence, on the edge of becoming.  This too could be said to be related to the movement and it’s sense of itself and the new world it was going to bring into reality, at the point of immanence forcing its way out of the idea-space of socialist and labour discourse and into the real world.

At this point in this section on monstrous imagery in the working class press I feel that it is important to raise the issue of Anti-Semitism in fin de seicle working class culture.  This aspect of the working class culture and specifically socialist culture has drawn a lot of attention from both academia and the media, particularly in the United States.  It has been argued that the Clarion editor Robert Blatchford was an anti Semite and likewise the editors of Justice, as well as many members of the Labour and Socialist movements.

While these claims are not without some validity and textual support, it is fair to point out that this particular argument is historically locatable within a wider public discourse of an attack on socialism and the contemporary left, wherein an Anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, most commonly associated with the European far-in the inter-war period, is identified as one of the dominant themes within the discourses of the Socialist movement, retroactively read into the writings of Marx and projected forwards through the late nineteenth-century socialist movement, fascism and the Holocaust into the post war left and new left.  It constructs Marx as, at best, a self hating Jew and at worst, a rabid anti-Semite[190] and Adolph Hitler as a closet Marxist.  As such it can be considered as a monstrous construction of the left by the mainstream discourse, one that is on occasion utilised by factional elements within the far-left against other leftist groupings.[191]  As well as basically reconstructing Socialism and Marxism as being responsible for (and equivalent to) Nazism,[192] this argument of ‘Left’, anti-Semitism or, “The New Anti-Semitism”, serves the more immediate purpose of stifling debate about Zionism, criticism of Israel with regards to the human rights of the Palestinians and the actions of the US in the middle east.[193]

That said, we cannot afford to excuse or whitewash the Victorian socialists and labour men for there was undoubtedly some anti-Semitic sentiment within the writings of some Victorian socialists.  However this fact has to be appreciated in a context where the association between Judaism and capital had become part of what Gramsci refers to as “common-sense” the disjointed body of uncritically absorbed thought common to a particular period.[194]  For example Robert Blatchford’s use of the term ‘Jew’ and reference to Jewish bankers in some of his illustrative examples in Merrie England reveals an axiomatic association between Jewishness and certain aspects of capitalist practice.  Justice too contains reference to Jewish Banking houses and the interests of financial dynasties like the Rothschilds being behind imperial wars and military expeditions.

That said, within these socialist discourses there is an absence of the sort of extreme racialist discourse that one tends to associate with fascist anti-Semitism.  There doesn’t appear to be any harking back to old Myths, such as the blood libel and killing of Christian babies for use in sorcery.  While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it is certainly a good indication.  If anti-Semetism was as ubiquitous as it has been suggested[195] one would have expected to have found some evidence of it in the pictorial representations of capitalism in the socialist press.  In theory, one could make a case for a connection between the Moloch imagery and anti-Semitic imagery, but that would have to hinge on the use of child sacrifice as an emotive in each, though child sacrifice is a common recurring motif in monstrous imagery in western culture that predates both capitalism and anti-Semitism. 

Furthermore, in Justice at least, such anti-semetic sentiment as did exist did not go unchallenged.  After reference to “Jew-Jingo backers” of the mainstream newspapers in a piece on pro-war jingoism during what we now know was the prelude to the Boer war[196], a Jewish Social Democrat began a correspondence within the letters pages of the paper[197] in which an extremely complex and nuanced debate on the paper’s own use of anti-Semitic imagery emerged.  Essentially the editors argued that they were not anti-Semitic, having a great sympathy for working class Jews and pointing out that many of their leading comrades were of Jewish extraction, including the recently deceased Frederick Engles and Eleanor Marx, while at the same time they felt justified in their hatred of wealthy capitalists, many of whom happened to be Jewish.  On the other hand, Jewish Social Democrats and their supporters wrote that they did not feel that it was appropriate to single out Jewish capitalists and warned of the dangers of using that sort of imagery, i.e. Alienating Eastern European Jewish immigrants against the working class movement who could then be used as scab labour to break strikes, or losing SDF supporters to other metropolitan left groups such as the Anarchists, or even the early Zionist movement.[198]

What emerges from the historical record is that this was a period of the history of the socialist movement when many of the complex discourses around race and class (and for that matter gender) where still in their early stages and had yet to achieve the level of sophistication that we in the present have only come to through a long period of struggle and the experiences of the twentieth century.  Nationalism, Anarchism, socialism and undigested cultural, economic and social scientific theories from earlier periods of struggle sat together in ways we would find quite strange today.  Anti-Semetism within the early socialist discourse is undeniable, but to expect otherwise from a society so steeped in racialism would be anachronistic and to use this as a stick to beat contemporary socialists seems perverse.

So, what then can we say in conclusion of the teratology of the Working class movement in Victorian Britain?  One consistent motif that can be seen in the cartoon images in the socialist press, in the imagery of the socialist news reportage and in Marx’s use of the gothic, is the process of inversion and reversal.  Rituals of reversal have a long history in pre-industrial traditional culture across the world.  In some sense we can see this inverting trend in the radical culture as a continuation of this tradition, probably not handed down directly but more indicative of the same subversive thought process at work transported to a different age and type of media culture.  As we have seen before, the monstrous construction of the British working class has its origins in the simian racial construction of the Irish in the decades previous to the fin-de seicle.  It is here too that we can see this sort of subversion of monstrifying tropes in Cartoons that parody the Simian Irish of the British popular press.[199]  In a tradition within the Irish press that would continue into the next century, these Irish cartoonists turned Tenniel’s images of the Irish on their head by, for example, depicting grotesque English bodies[200] and the figure of Punch introducing the monstrously constructed Irishman from his own pages to “The Jarvey”, the figurehead of an Irish Journal by the same name.[201]  And so too it was with The Clarion cartoons depicting workers as heroes out of legend while the upper classes are treated if not as monsters then at least as absurd.

In the context, the use of inversion seems highly appropriate.  The word “Revolution” comes from mechanics and refers to turning a wheel through 360 degrees.  By inverting, by turning the images they were presented with on their heads, the propagandists were turning their culture towards something better and trying to turn the world upside down and into something better.

Chapter 4


To conclude this study I would like to reflect on the analytical technique used in and developed over the previous chapter and the strengths and limitations of the various elements of theory discussed in the first chapter. 

From our analysis of the various theoretical approaches to the Monster in Chapter 3 it is apparent that monsters are objectified representations that are supposed to cause unease or anxiety in the reader.  The question then becomes one of how these representations produce this anxiety.  While a lot of the anxieties articulated by monsters are rooted in near-universal existential concerns with our mortality and physical integrity,[202] clearly the root of many of these anxieties are in the socio-cultural context, that is the anxiety is drawn from the environment of the monster. Throughout this project it has been my premise that Monsters, because of their function within the narratives they inhabit, are the detritus of their cultural context, a collection of all the negative, fearful things that provoke a crisis for that culture.  Whether it is through the upsetting effect of violating established schema,[203] unreason intruding into bourgeois space[204] or the guilty conscience of those of us who knowingly violate the social order, the monster can embody any of these things and is most successful when it can embody many anxieties simultaneously.[205]  Therefore the monster is a textual record in which social anxieties can be read, and as I hope I established in the last chapter, there is much that can be read in them that can enlighten and challenge pre-conceived notions of how people thought and felt.

The theory of monsters as I have developed it over the course of this project has, I feel, the potential to open up topics to new understandings of the irrational discourses that underlie and sustain their corresponding rational discourses.  One could easily imagine, for example, a project very much like this one, with the same format and analytical approach, which took the discourses around the women’s movement or the issue of sexuality as its subject.  Also, while the importance of the notion of a rational and irrational discourse would seem to limit the applicability of the theory to the late modern period I would argue that this need not be the case as long as we understand that prior to the Enlightenment the two discourses shared a common space in the intellectual life of the period.  The great thinkers of the previous centuries often had interests across the range of science and mysticism.[206]  In Adornian terms, one might say that as pre-enlightenment societies were structured around naked authority, particularly when that had a legitimacy based on metaphysics, of course the irrational and symbolic would have been more prevalent in the discourses of the time.  The marginalising of the irrational discourse by the revolutionaries of the Enlightenment can then be contextualised as the de-legitimising of the old order.  Considering this, one could envision medieval culture as a particularly fecund resource for projects of this type and involving the same theoretical approach.

Some limitations of the approach that we should be aware of are general to any analysis that involves psychological analysis as a means of inquiry.  If E.M. Jones’s Monsters From The Id showed us anything its that it is very easy to impute your own prejudices into the material.  However these issues are not insurmountable.  One of the problems with Jones’s book was that while the author had clearly read around the subject it appears that he had only read far enough to confirm his own bias.  As such he recycles some of the myths from areas of scholarship that lack academic rigour, such as most of the material around Dracula.  For example he repeats the idea that Bram Stoker suffered from syphilis and that this had a major impact on the development of the moral themes within the novel.  However, while the vampirism-syphilis connection is extremely pervasive[207], it has also been discredited and traced to one of Stoker’s relatives attempting to cash in on the family legacy with spurious gossip.[208]  So, while there are issues we have to consider when undergoing this type of research, mindfulness, rigour and good historical practice can help us balance our own natural tendency to impute our own partiality into the sources.

Of the topics that I proposed to examine over the course of the project I believe I managed to cover the majority of them to some degree and I am satisfied with how I was able to engage with the main issues.  There is one issue however I don’t feel was adequately covered in the previous pages.  This is the notion of “Audiences”, i.e. how audiences engaged with fiction and in this case how they responded to monsters within their culture. Like monster theory the study of audiences is a relatively recent phenomenon with many intriguing possibilities and they share common concerns.  While some of this was touched on in the section on the epistemological function of monstrous imagery, there is a lot more to be said.  Noel Carroll devotes a lengthy section of his book to the paradox of why we can be scared by things we know not to be real, and concludes that while we are aware of things as fictional we can think ourselves into a state of genuine horror.[209]  On the other hand, Jonathan Rose has some empirical evidence that some audiences engaged with the fictive by embracing it as reality.[210]  Unfortunately the way the project developed I wasn’t able to engage with this apparent contradiction, simply because I didn’t come across any sources relevant to the question, but this is something that could be engaged with in the future, and there is even some potential to bring a specifically Marxist perspective to the subject.[211]

Finally, in terms of developing a Marxist approach to monsters I feel that I shown the relevance of the Marxist tradition to the study of cultural history even in this supposedly post-theory, post-Marxist and post-modern age.  The retreat from Marxism towards the post-modern condition of fragmentation and unease with any consistent theory can be traced to the historical circumstances of the last decades, i.e. the general assault on the gains made by the generation who came out of the 1960s throughout all of western society[212] and the stultification of Marxism by its relationship to the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union is no more and we appear to be entering a period of crisis both like and unlike that faced by the last generation who brought Marxism to the level of orthodoxy within academic discourse before the counter-revolution of the nineteen-eighties and nineties.  As my generation faces its own struggles and we seek to understand the world and the situations we are presented with we will have this inheritance to draw on, informed and strengthened by the critiques made over these last decades.

China Miéville raised a very interesting point at his lecture.[213]  If monsters are the product of social anxieties then come-the-revolution, after we have purged the world of all evil violence and oppression to enjoy it to the full and throttled the last capitalist with the guts of the last priest, will there still be monsters?  It’s hard to say.  While capitalism in its current form will certainly end at some point in the future, and what it is replaced with may be qualitatively better, I find it hard to envision a complete end to human misery and struggle.  Who could possibly know what monsters will be born from the next stage of human society, but monsters have always been there to terrify us and help us engage with our fears.  In other words, we are the monster, we will slay the monster and some day we will continue to create monsters of our own.


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[1] R. Chartier, Cultural History p.13
[2] This is sometimes referred to as Teratology, a term borrowed from medical science in which it refer’s to the study of birth deformities.
[3] With the odd exceptions, such as the title piece in R.F. Foster’s Paddy and Mr Punch, which sparked off a debate amongst historians of Irish – British relations that runs to this day.
[4] Indeed, several history professors have contributed papers to the conferences of the Monsters and the monstrous conferences that have been held annually since 2003 (http://www.wickedness.net/Monsters/monsters.htm) under the auspices of the inter-disciplinary.net project (http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/).
[5] R. Luckhurst, ‘Introduction’ in Late Victorian Gothic Tales p.xvi
[6] P. Burke, History and Social Theory pp101-4.
[7] J. Walkowitz, City of Dreadful Delight.
[8] C. Frayling, Nightmare: the Birth of Horror.
[9] J.J. Cohen (ed.) Monster Theory.
[10] J.J. Cohen ‘Monster Culture (Seven Theses)’, in J.J. Cohen (ed.) Monster Theory.
[11] The term ‘Science Fiction’ wouldn’t be coined until the Pulp magazine boom in 1920s America.
[12] Mainly in Punch.
[13] And by extension, global culture.
[14] e.g. The Clarion, The Workman’s Times and The Yorkshire Factory Times.
[15] E.g. To-Day, Our Corner and Commonwealth.
[16] D. Mulch, English Socialist Periodicals, 1880-1900, p.xxii.
[17] D. Mulch. p.xviii.
[18] Which itself published Clarion Cyclist’s Journal.
[19] Tom Mann or exanple.
[20] JJ Cohen, Monster Theory: Reading Culture p.20
[21] B. Denny, The Services Directive – A Race To The Bottom! (London, 2006)
[22] And indeed every summer since the first blockbuster (Jaws) in 1975.
[23] C. Meiville, Marxism and Monsters
[24] J.J. Cohen (ed.) Monster Theory: Reading Culture  (1996)
[26] E.g. One of the academics I contacted in connection to this project, Elun Gabriel, is primarily a specialist in German political history and the paper on the Anarchist as Monster he delivered to the conference in 2005 was an off-shoot of the main research on German Anarchism that he was engaged in.
[27] N.B. For this idea of the irrational discourse I am largely drawing on my own work.  For a fuller explanation of this concept see my previous essay, C. McVarnock “The Left Hand of Empire: the Fantastic and the Irrational in the Culture of Colonialism” (Essex, 2006) which explores this concept in the context of imperialism.  Briefly, this explores the relationship between rational, scientific literature on the world outside the homelands of European civilisation (what Edward Siad refers to as Orientalism) and European art and literature (and particularly fantastic literature) that constructs the Orient in its own way, within the context of Euro-centric cultural hegemony.  (Part of) the argument put forwards was that the two exist in a Derridian binary, and it is possible to explore one through the other and entirely necessary to be aware of both to understand the cultural processes behind imperialism.
[28] Along with the hero, which in most respects is surely their diametric opposite.
[29] Such as the work China Miéville has been doing on contextualising the work of H.P. Lovecraft within its historical context.
[30] For example, recently the role of Dragon symbolism in medieval western culture has recently been re-examined in the context of the emerging theory of monsters.
[31] H. Malchow, Gothic Images of Race in Nineteenth-Century Britain pp.149-165
[32] Also covered in Malchow, but more recently Daniel Pick has written a monograph on the subject, Svengali’s Web.
[33] Naturally enough, considering he’s from the British Marxist tradition of E.P. Thompson, which favours a more Empiricist approach than continental Marxists (See Thompson’s The Poverty of Philosophy).
[34] Which isn’t defined but considering the anti-feminist and homophobic bias evident in the book we can safely assume is a religious patriarchal society.
[35] Routledge, 1990
[36] N. Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror, p.7
[37] Usually an authority figure.
[38] Ibid., pp99-108
[39] Ibid., pp118-125
[40] Ibid., pp125-128
[41] J.J. Cohen.  ‘Monster Culture (Seven Theses)’ in J.J. Cohen (ed.) Monster Theory: Reading Culture pp.3-25
[42] Ibid., pp.7-8
[43] Ibid., p.4
[44] Ibid., p.4
[45] Ibid. P.4
[46] Ibid., p.7
[47] Ibid. P.7
[48] Like in the countless teen slasher films where the monster / killer tends to go after anyone who has promiscuous sex, takes drugs of in some other way sins against the social order – the sort of thing lovingly parodied in Wes Craven’s Scream trilogy.
[49] Ibid., p15  He could also have used D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a nation, Dracula or any of the numerous H. P. Lovecraft stories (including The Call of Cthulhu, Shadow Over Innsmouth or The Dunich Horror) wherein miscegenation is key to the teratology of the text.
[50] Ibid., p.16
[51] Ibid., P.20
[52] Ibid., p20
[53] J. Halberstam, Skin Shows; Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters p22
[54] A. Moore and E. Campbell From Hell Chapter Ten: The best of all tailors p.33.
[55] Even E. Michele Jones Monsters From The Id, strange though it is, certainly highlights the importance of the Enlightenment.
[56] J. Monleón, A Spectre Is Hauntuing Europe pp24-30.
[57] Ibid., pp.31-35.
[58] K. Haltunnen, ‘The Birth of Horror’ pp.78-84.
[59] M. Foucault, Madness and Civilisation pp.68-70.
[60] C. Baldick, In Frankenstein’s Shadow pp11-12. Eg. Anthony and Cleopatra (IV. xii. 36): “Of all thy sex.  Most monster-like be shown.”
[61] ibid. pp13-14.
[62] This is actually the main argument of Chris Baldick’s book, In Frankenstein’s Shadow.
[63] Or even classical mythology, though there are parallels to some of the creation myths of pre-Christian civilisation, hence the novel’s alternative title “The Modern Prometheus”.
[64] The background of the writing of Frankenstein and its bibliogenisis are near legends in their own right and certainly too long and well documented to be done justice to here.  The current Penguin Classics edition carries a good introduction with an extensive bibliography (Maurice Hindle, 2003).  Baldick’s In Frankenstein’s Shadow devotes a significant proportion of its length to the novel and is probably the best I’ve come across on the subject.
[65] During the “Golden age” of Science fiction in the 1920s (J. Brosnan Future Tense, p.12)
[66] What was known as “Cheap Print” or chap books.  This was a popular literature that was around from the first Information Technology Revolution in the Early modern period.
[67] Indeed the term ‘Speculative Fiction’ is increasingly being used as a catch-all term for referring to the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Genre together (See N.E. lilly, ‘What is Speculative Fiction’ http://www.greententacles.com/articles/5/26/).
[68] For a good Survey of the current literature on the subject see J. Rose, ‘Was Capitalism Good For Victorian Literature?’ in Victorian Studies: an interdisciplinary journal of social, political, and cultural studies University of Indiana, Bloomington (46:3) (Spring 2004) pp.489-501
[69] R. Williams, The Long Revolution p.190
[70] Ibid. p.217
[71] ibid, pp.177-189
[72] J. Carey, The Intellectuals and The Masses p5
[73] R. Williams, p190
[74] J. Rose, ‘Was Capitalism Good For Victorian Literature?’ p.496.
[75] See P.V. Allingham ‘The Victorian Short Story: A Brief History’.
[76] R. Bowlby, Just Looking: Consumer Culture in Dreiser, Gissing and Zola p.90.
[77] ibid., p181.
[78] J. Neveins ‘Heroes & Monsters’ pp.126-7.
[79] J. Brosnan, pp.10-11.
[80] R. Tracy, ‘Introduction to In A Glass Darkly’ p.xxi.
[81] J. Lorrain ‘The Magic Lantern’ in R. Luckhurst (ed.) Late Victorian Gothic Stories pp.172-3.
[82] J. Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes, pp.116-9.
[83] Ibid, pp.120-1.
[84] G. Orwell The Road To Wigan Peir ch.8 ()
[85] J. Monleón, A Spectre in haunting Europe, p.94.
[86] Ibid.
[87] Who of course would lead the struggle against the autocracy itself.
[88] E.J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire 1875-1914 p.170.
[89] Hobsbawn points out that an important watershed was reached in Britian in 1895.  Prior to that, in almost every single British cabinet the majority of ministers would be from the aristocracy, after 1895 they never were again.  Ibid, p.171.
[90] Ibid. pp.116-7.
[91] See E.P. Thompson, ‘Time, Work-discipline and Industrial Capitalism’ Past and Present 38 (1967)
[92] E.J. Hobsbawm, pp44-5
[93] See J. Carey, The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939 pp3-22.
[94] For a full, discussion of the Theory of Degeneration, the best book to look at is Daniel Pick’s Faces of Degeneration, but see also Chapters 6, 13 and 16 of Gareth Stedman Jones’ Outcast London, Chapter 1 of Victorian Demons by Andrew Smith, which looks at Degeneration Theory in the context of masculinity and The first chapter of Steven Arata’s Fictions of Loss in the Fin de Seicle.
[95] First published January 1886.
[96] R. Mighall, ‘Introduction’ in The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, p.x.
[97] Ibid. p.x
[98] And I’d imagine the famous stage adaptation that had to be closed at the time of the Ripper Murders in 1888.  I can’t really say because the script is not commercially available and I’ve yet to turn up a copy, or account of the play by a viewer.
[99] R.L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales Of Terror p.9
[100] Ibid, p.xix
[101] And I use this term in the same sense as “Gendered”.
[102] J. Sutherland Is Heathcliff a Murderer? Puzzles in Nineteenth-Century Fiction p.184
[103] At least as depicted by Mary Shelly, as opposed to the traditional image of the monster that comes from the numerous film adaptations, particularly the James Whale version staring Boris Karloff.
[104] R. L. Stevenson, p.23
[105] For example, see Dr Freeman-Williams The Effect of Townlife on General Health quoted in G.S. Jones, Outcast London p.127
[106] 23rd Annual report of the London Poor Board, 1871, Ibid, p.129.
[107] R. L. Stevenson, p.62
[108] Quoted in J. Sutherland p.187
[109] Ibid. p.187
[110] See the incident as given on page 66 of the Penguin classics edition, which is based on the first published edition.
[111] As indeed had happened in with Frankenstein, see Baldick pp58-62 and 199-204 on the differences between the 1818 and 1831 editions.
[112] R. L. Stevenson, p.22
[113] Ibid, p.42
[114] L. Curtis, Angels and Apes, pp.102-3.
[115] Ibid.
[116] Variously the Irish Republican or Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood.
[117] P.G. Gurney, Labour’s Arch, p
[118] For a full discussion on the simianisation of the Irish and its development see L. Perry Curtis, Angels and Apes, especially Chapter IV, pp 29-57.
[119] C. Baldick, In Frankenstein’s Shadow pp.84-91.
[120] E Hobsbawm, p.121.
[121] Victor Sage, Horror in the Protestant Tradition p.78.
[122] C. Miéville, Marxism and Monsters.
[123] H.G. Wells, The Time Machine p.48.
[124] Which is something Norman Spinrad would address with greater aplomb in his novel “The Men In The Jungle”.
[125] This is also interesting for what it says about Well’s political ideas.   Here, at the beginning of Wells’ writing career, we can see some of the intellectual elitism that would evolve into a fetish for authoritarian regimes controlled by an intellectual elite that would find him championing Stalin’s Soviet Union and even Nazi Germany much later in his career.
[126] See, H, Malchow, Gothic Images of Race in Nineteenth-Century Britain, chapter 2
[127] J. Carey, p.139
[128] H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, p.82
[129] L. Curtis, pp.89-93
[130] H. G, Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, p.84.
[131] Ibid., p.130-1.
[132] Ibid., p.130.
[133] The time machine sold 6,000 copies in it’s first year.
[134] Dracula was a modest success, it’s first edition ran to 3,000 copies and was reprinted several times in Stoker’s lifetime, but he never saw the fame of Stevenson or Wells.  E. Miller, Dracula: Sense and Nonsense pp78-9.
[135] Including, for example, F.W. Murneau’s Nosferatu, though this was by no means the only nor even the earliest screen adaptation of the story.  Ibid. p.79.
[136] B. Stoker, Dracula, p.362.
[137] Ibid.
[138] According to the blurb on the back cover of Sense and Nonsense.
[139] ibid, pp37-38.
[140] The Vampyre was the first important Vampire novel, the first vampire story in the Gothic tradition was actually Byron’s story of the same name, penned for the same story writing competition where Mary Shelly wrote the story she would later develop into Frankenstein.
[141] R. Tracy ‘Introduction’ in In A Glass Darkly, p.xxi.
[142] See. C. Méiville ‘Introduction’ in H.P. Lovecraft At The Mountains of Madness (ed.) pp.xi-xxv
[143] S.D. Arata, Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siecle.
[144] R. Mighall A Geography of Victorian Gothic Fiction: Mapping History’s Nightmares, pp.276-287
[145] Lucy Westerna in her Vampiric incarnation harks back to a long tradition in western culture of the Mother as monster (see the section on infanticides in M Warner, Managing Monsters, pp. 6-12).
[146] Pick and Arata have both noted that the Dracula follow in the wake of declining Empires.
[147] For a full and concise explanation of Dracula’s and location within degenerative discourse and the writing around it see M. Tomaszewska, Vampirism and the Degeneration of the Imperial Race - Dracula as the Degenerative Imperial Other.
[148] A lot has been written on the latent Anti-Semitism in Dracula, (See M. Tomaszewska, S. Kline and J. Halberstam), but the most comprehensive is in H.L. Malchow, Gothic Images of Race in Nineteenth-Century Britain pp153-164.
[149] Bryan Turner,
[150] Sigmund Freud’s notion of The Uncanny which Freud called in his own language, “Das Unheimlich” – literally “The Un-Homely”.
[151] G. De Maupassant, The Horla (http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/ubooks/horl.shtml)
[152] H. James, The Turn of the Screw (http://www.yeoldelibrary.com/text/jamesh/screw)
[153] J. Monleon, p.88
[154] Which also carries implications of the fear of the next generation of mankind usurping the social order.
[155] G. De Maupassant, p.16.
[156] Wells in a letter to his brother Frank, quoted in C. Meiville, Marxism and Monsters.
[157] G. De Maupassant, p.18.
[158] Indeed, as we shall see, Degeneration Theory, for example, had reached the stage of penetration that Gramsci referred to as, “common sense” Arata, p16.
[159] E.g. Socialist Worker, The Militant, Worker’s Hammer and The Socialist. to name but a few.
[160] For some suggestions as to why this might have been see McKibbon, R. ‘Why Was There No Marxism In Great Britain?’ in The English Historical Review, Vol. 99, No.391 (April, 1984) pp297-331.
[161] See F. Wheen Marx’s Das Kapital: A Biograph.
[162] F. Engles, The Conditions of the working class in England, p.264.
[163] C. Baldick, pp128-9.
[164] Anon., ‘The Vampires of To-day’ 28 January 1888 p.1.
[165] W. Crane, ‘The Capitalist Vampire’ Justice, 22 August 1885.
[166] Anon, “A Special Announcement” Justice 22 August 1885 p.1.
[167] Apparantly Kobold in the original German, which would be more like a Pixie or Leprechaun than a spectre.  See C. Mieville ‘Marxism and Monsters’
[168] B. “Imperial Puppets”, 2 July 1898 p.1
[169] C. Baldick, p.125
[170] The Clarion ‘untitled’ 30th July 1898.
[171] Anon. Yorkshire Factory Times, 30 September 1892 p.6.
[172] E. Zola Germinal p.28.
[173] A. Kollontai, Selected Speeches and Writings
[174] At that time generally taken to mean the imbuing of objects - “fetishes” – such as idols or saintly relics, with an inherent value and/or powers.  The word only gained its sexual connotation much later.
[175] Anon, ‘The Modern Minotaur’ Justice 30 October 1884 p.1.
[176] Ibid.
[177] see. R. Stott, ‘The Dark Continent, Africa as Female Body in Haggard’s Adventure Fiction’.
[178] Anon, Justice 8 October 1898.
[179] Anon, Justice 14 October 1899.
[180] D. Pick, p.3.
[181] C.S.J. ‘A Fairy tale For Tired Socialists’ Justice, 20 August 1898 p.6.
[182] Ibid.
[183] See for example J. Sutherland, ‘What did Mr. Hyde really look like ?’ in Is Heathcliff a Murderer?: Great Puzzles in Nineteenth-Century Fiction pp.186.
[184] Anon, ‘The Agitator’ The Clarion, 7 May 1892 p.1.
[185] Ibid.
[186] M. Bahktin, Rabelais and his world, p.141.
[187] Ibid., p.142.
[188] Anon, ‘Piggy’s Property’ The Clarion, 17 November 1892 p.1.
[189] Anon, ‘The Crocodile M.P.’ The Clarion, 23 April 1892 p.1.
[190] The best answer to this specious criticism of Marx was provided in the 1940s by the American Marxist Hal Draper.  (see. H. Draper, ‘Marx and the Economic Jew Stereotype’ http://www.marxists.de/religion/draper/marxjewq.htm ) Whilst the charge of anti-Semitism is leveled at Marx by each succeding generation of reactionaries, few have engaged with Draper’s response or any of the other counter arguments put by Marxists over the years.
[191] Traditionally, by various shades of Trotskyism against the Communist parties and the Soviet Union, (with some justification), more recently in Britain by the Alliance for Workers Liberty against every one else on the far left, especially the Socialist Workers Party (with much less justification) and the Euston Manifesto signatories (a grouping of the pro-war “Left”, mainly journalists and intellectuals) against the popular movement against the war in Iraq.
[192] Of course to the Neo-Liberal Hegemony, which within it’s own discourse fetishises the Market and what it calls, “Free-Trade”, any government or ideology that places a restriction on its economy for whatever reason is abhorrent.
[193] A recent EU investigation into incidents of Anti-Semitism in Europe listed “Flying or displaying a Palestinain flag” as an anti-Semitic action.
[194] A. Gramsci, ‘Notes for an introduction and an approach to the study of Philosophy of the history Of Culture’ p.343.
[195] For example by Steve Cohen in his pamphlet Funny You Don’t Look Anti-Semetic (http://www.engageonline.org.uk/ressources/funny/).
[196] Anon. ‘Gold Greedy Ghouls Thirsty for Blood’ Justice, 14 November 1899.
[197] T.W. Rothstein, in ‘Letters to The editor’ Justice, 21 October 1899.
[198] Which Rothstein characterised as ‘reactionary’.
[199] See L.P. Curtis pp.68-88.
[200] “Reciprocity” by John F. O’Hea from Pat (Ibid. p.70).
[201] “Mr Punch Introduces Tenniel’s Irishman to The Jarvey” by Richard C. Orpen from The Jarvey (Ibid. p.74).
[202] Certainly the capacity of the monster to kill, maim and destroy is an important element of the monster and certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.
[203] N. Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror p.125.
[204] J. Monleon, A Spectre is Haunting Europe, A Sociohistorical approach to the Fantastic, p.35.
[205] J. Halberstam, Skin Shows; Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters p22.
[206] One need only think of recent discoveries about Sir Isaac Newton’s alchemical investigations, or John Dee, the Magus at the Elizabethan court during the renaissance who was a noted authority on a number of subjects and saw no contradiction between expertise in cartography, mathematics and scrying.
[207] Indeed I believe that a new adaptation of Dracula due to be screened this christmas takes Syphilis as one of it’s key themes.
[208] E. Miller, Dracula Sense and Nonsense pp.81-2.
[209] N. Carroll, pp.60-88.
[210] J. Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working class pp.92-115.
[211] Bakhtin’s legacy in particular seems to contain much that is applicable to developing a Marxist perspective on audiences, see. D. Shepherd, ‘Bakhtin and the Reader’ in Bakhtin and Cultural Theory pp.91-108.
[212] Whether that be in academia, the real wages of the working class which have been in decline since the 1970s or the institutions of the working class that have been under a sustained assault since the same period.
[213] C. Miéville, Marxism and Monsters.

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