Monday, December 20, 2010

Revised Lit. Crit.

In Anne Rice and the Queering of Culture, George Haggerty analyzes the homoerotic nature of Rice’s vampire novels.  Haggerty makes the assertion that these characters, although they reflect the homoerotic nature of Stoker and Le Fanu’s creations, are much more interesting and endearing to the reader.  He basis this assertion on two reasons.  “I think Rice's vampires  express our culture's secret desire  for and  secret fear of the gay man; the need  to fly with  him beyond the  confines  of heterosexual  convention  and bourgeois  family life  to an exploration of unauthorized desires, and at the same time to taste his body and his blood; to see him bleed and watch him succumb to death-in-life” (Haggerty 6). Haggerty believes that these vampires both express our cultures need and fear of the homosexual lifestyle.  This is as a result of their place in society.  Gay culture, for many people, represents a counter-culture to their own.  Haggerty also touches on this in the quote above.  He says that the homosexual lifestyle “flys beyond the confines of heterosexual convention and bourgeois family life.” By analyzing this aspect of Haggerty argument his foundation can be seen.  Homosexual lifestyle goes beyond the social confines that the conventional lifestyle cannot.  Furthermore, the family structures of these people are much different than that of the rest of the dominant culture.  Both of these aspects of Haggerty’s argument are present in Rice’s novel.  The vampire lifestyle can be analogous to that of the homosexual.  They are not confined by the conventional needs of humans.  They do not die, do not need to grow or maintain food, or sustain health with anything more than blood.  Furthermore, the structure of the relationship of Lestat, Louis, and Claudia is much different than that of the bourgeois family.  In essence, Claudia has two fathers making this family unlike anything else in society.   Haggerty continues this comparison later in his article. 
            Robert Haggerty furthers his argument, the vampire is analogous to homosexuals, with the assertion that their techniques are the same.  “In The Vampire Chronicles, Rice is aware of the vampire as the surplus of the real in western culture. The vampire moves with the suave invisibility of the prototypical gay man: offering companionship, friendship, even love, before revealing his  true and deadly  nature; appearing silently and taking his pleasure ruthlessly; and suffering for his sexual transgression by being shut out from the light and condemned  to  an eternity of darkness” (Haggerty 9).  Again, Haggerty’s argument is supported by the structure of relationships in Rice’s novel.  “The suave invisibility of the prototypical gay man” is an interesting way to equate these lifestyles, but effective.  Louis, Lestat, and Claudia rely on the night, companionship, and others to feed.  They exploit their talents at making meaningful relationships before revealing their true nature.  According to Haggerty, the prototypical gay man does the same when looking for a partner.  Many homosexuals hide their sexuality, revealing it only to their closest friends, relatives, and partners.  This is very much the same way vampires operate in Rice’s novel.  Haggerty wraps up his argument by commenting on the conventional family structure. 

“The ‘Love of Men and Women for one another and for their Children’ is the measure against which all the transgressive desire of these works must finally be measured” (Haggerty 17).  Haggerty measures his against the reader’s conventional thoughts of the western family structure.  This is not to say that readers of these novels conform to that, but it is an overarching idea.  Vampires, especially those that appear in Rice’s novel, can be used to compare culture and counterculture.  They are different from humans in every conceivable way; their lifestyle, sustenance and ability to cheat death.  It is an interesting comparison and his qualification is necessary.  Haggerty’s argument fits perfectly into the structure of Rice’s novels that, can be said to, queer culture.  

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