Oral Sex: Vampiric Transgression and the Writing of Angela Carter

Sarah SceatsKingston University
Vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring 2001), 107-121

This article looks at Angela Carter’s prescient revival of vampirism in her novels from the late 1960s through the early 1980s as a paradigmatic example of the fascination with vampires in the contemporary moment. Rehearsing all that gives the vampire an essentially contradictory nature—representing both fear and desire, simultaneously voracious and insatiable, confusing the roles of victim and predator, combining dependence and rapaciousness, wedged, as Carter herself indicates, in the gap between art and life—her representation of vampires is distinguished by this article from Victorian and modern figurations in that she also uses vampiric tropes to examine gendered behavior and heterosexual power relations. The essay argues that Carter was ahead of her time in both her irony and her insistence upon appetite, transgression, and instability. In some ways it is surprising that this figure has not been taken up more by feminist writers, given that it offers a revolutionary possibility—an active, penetrative, and vengeful role model. Then again, the element of dependence and the parasitic in the vampire may be off-putting for other women writers. Ultimately, however, as the essay argues, it may well be vampirism’s deconstruction of the oppositions it spans, as much as the interest in sexual or ontological risk, that makes the vampire such a compelling and undying figure.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]