Blood Will Tell: Vampires as Political Metaphors Before World War I

Blood Will Tell: Vampires as Political Metaphors Before World War I


Sara Libby Robinson

ISBN: 9781934843611 (hardcover)
Pages: 246 pp.
Publication Date: March 2011

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Blood Will Tell explores the ways in which writers, thinkers, and politicians used blood and vampire-related imagery to express social and cultural anxieties in the decades leading up to the First World War. Covering a wide variety of topics, including science, citizenship, gender, and anti-Semitism, Sara Libby Robinson demonstrates the ways in which rhetoric tied to blood and vampires permeated political discourse and transcended the disparate cultures of Great Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, forming a cohesive political and cultural metaphor.

Sara Libby Robinson received her PhD in Comparative History from Brandeis University. Her other publications include “Novel Anti-Semitisms: Vampiric Reflections of the Jew in Britain, 1875-1914,” which appeared in Jewish Studies in Violence: A Collection of Essays (University Press of America, 2006).

Blood Will Tell is short and concise, yet its coverage is impressive. . . . Robinson draws attention to many points of convergence between anti-Semitic stereotypes and vampire imagery, reinforcing her argument with some 30 political cartoons from Punch, Puck, Harper’s Weekly, Kladderadatsch, and less familiar publications like the Justice Journal or The Judge—a feature that considerably enhances the value of her book. . . . Robinson often cites neglected or overlooked texts including Herman Strack’s The Jew and Human Sacrifice: An Historical and Sociological Inquiry (1898), and forgotten novels like Coulson Kernahan’s Captain Shannon (1896) or Guy de Charnace’s Le Baron Vampire (1885). These unusual additions are most welcome and leave the reader wanting to know more.
— David Glover, University of Southampton, UK, in Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, vol. 12, issue 3 (December 2013)
Sara Libby Robinson has written a book of remarkable range and erudition including sources from Europe and America. She shows convincingly that the image of the vampire accompanied a wide variety of modern anxieties about blood. We now know that Count Dracula was only the beginning of a much broader and more interesting story.
— David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History Chair, Department of History University of California, Davis
This fascinating and illuminating book shows clearly how the interest in vampirism which developed in Britain, France, and Germany in the three quarters of a century before the end of the Second World War was linked with the popularisation of a more ‘scientific’ understanding of the human body and the role of blood in it. This development was related both to fears about the advancement of women and to the development of new forms of antisemitism and the book thus makes a major contribution to the crisis of liberal values in the years between 1870 and 1945.
— Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Brandeis University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1 Into the Light of Day
The Vampire Legend and its Introduction to Western Culture
2 The Life of All Flesh
Religious Discourse, Anti-Judaism, and Anti-Clericalism
3 Bred in the Bone
Science, Blood, and Identity
4 The Life-Blood of Commerce
Vampires and Economic Discourse
5 Terrorists with Teeth
Vampires and Political Counter-Culture; Communism, Socialism, and Anarchism
6 Paying the Blood Tax
National Identity, Blood, and Vampires
7 Seductress and Murderess
Vampires and Gender Politics