Venice Twilight Analysis Essay

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Methodology
2.2.1. Point of view and the Narrator
2.2.2. Themes, Motifs, Symbols

3. Directions in Research

4. Man of Feeling, Byronic Hero, and the Nineteenth-Century Vampire
4.2.1. Types and Prototypes
4.3.1. Lamia, the female Vampire, and Sexuality
4.3.2. Power and Alienation, the Aristocratic male Vampire

5. Intertextual Structures, Themes, and Characters in the Twilight Series
5.1.1. The Other Perspective
5.1.2. Edward Cullen: a Postmodern Byronic Hero
5.1.3. The Female Vampire
5.1.4. Representations of Good and Evil
5.1.5. The Vampire and Society
5.2.1. Obstacles to a Relationship
5.2.2. Lovers driven by Fate
5.2.3. Sexuality and the Monster it creates
5.3.1. Doubling Characters
5.3.2. Doubling Structures

6. The Twilight Saga - An Intertextual Summary

7. Conclusion

8. Bibliography

1. Introduction

I know the exact date of my dream - it was June 2, 2003 […] I woke up that morning with a dream fresh in my head. The dream was vivid, strong, colorful… It was a conversation between a boy and a girl which took place in a beautiful, sunny meadow in the middle of a dark forest. The boy and the girl were in love with each other, and they were discussing the problems involved with that love, seeing that she was human and he was a vampire. The boy was more beautiful than the meadow, and his skin sparkled like diamonds in the sun. He was gentle and polite, and yet the potential for violence was very strong, inherent to the scene. I delayed getting out of bed for a while […] Finally, I had to get up […] I sat down at the computer and started writing it out.1

Stephenie Meyer, whose debut novel Twilight was published in 2005 and hit bestseller lists within a few weeks of its release, devised the idea for her first book in a dream that later became one of the central scenes of her first novel. Similarly, it was Mary Shelley who in her 1831 introduction to Frankenstein tells the reader about a waking dream in which she witnesses Frankenstein’s creation of the monster. Her nightmare and the subsequent decision that “what terrified me will terrify others”2 served as the catalyst for the conception of one of the most influential Gothic novels ever written. Eventually, the dream she had on June 16, 1816 became known as “the most famous dream in literary history”3.

As a postmodern work within the realm of fantastic literature, Meyer situates her tetralogy within a tradition of vampire literature that spans back more than two hundred years. Over the centuries the vampire has proven to be an intensely multi-faceted creature with an inherent capability to represent the fears and longings of individuals and the society in which it dwells. Inspired by Goethe’s Die Braut von Korinth which shows a young undead girl craving for the love of her predetermined husband a number of Romantic writers composed poems following Goethe’s depiction of the vampiric girl. With the delineation of female passionate vampires and fatal women in the poems of Coleridge and Keats groundwork was efficiently laid for representations of vampiresses ranging from determinedly friendshipseeking and intimate to overtly voluptuous seductresses.

Similarly, through Polidori’s portrayal of the male aristocratic revenant seducing men as well as women and arousing intimacy but eventually denying it, a portrait of a vampire is crafted which efficiently illustrates notions of power and alienation at the heart of society. Epitomized in Stoker’s Dracula which allegorizes the twentieth-century prototype of the male vampire as a well-groomed but essentially evil other, a type of vampire eventually emerges that turns particularly sympathetic in the course of the years by means of its Romantic predecessors. Due to a change in perspective - a narration from within rather than from outside of the monster - and the consequential “domestication” or humanization of the undead, the vampire in contemporary literature becomes more and more like the humans who face it. Being no longer a clear-cut other but transforming itself into a version of ourselves, the vampire no longer serves as a representative of relatively uncomplicated evil. As formerly established boundaries blur and concepts of good and evil disintegrate its metaphorical charge similarly shifts. Creating a net of coded reflections, the vampire more than ever can tell us something about love and sexuality, power and alienation as well as illness in a postmodern cultural framework.

With the growth in popularity due to series like Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles and the motif’s recurring presence in cinematic adaptations of Stoker’s Dracula as well as various TV formats public interest has never ceased to the present day. Moreover, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series has in fact accelerated the entire genre of vampire fiction leading to grand popularity and the exploitation of the genre within the realm of popular culture. As the most significant characteristic of the vampire is its being multi-faceted and changing, its potential to be also of great intertextual value can be thereupon considered. Consequently, it can be assumed that Meyer’s tetralogy clearly evokes these instances of intertextuality through the adoption of patterns and themes that have already proved productive in earlier literary works. However, in Meyer’s work these sources are remarkably extended and sometimes even altered as she relies to a large part on her pretexts to tell her narrative and construct a postmodern vampire figure. The author herself is also aware of her work’s intertextual potential as she notes that “it’s all there”4 in earlier literary works. As Meyer’s texts take part in a phenomenon that is fairly recent the intertextual potential of vampire literature and of Meyer’s works in particular has not yet been explored.

In order to achieve a comprehensive analysis it is necessary to incorporate all four volumes - Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn - of the Twilight series in the discussion. Meyer’s just recently published work The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: AnEclipse Novella will only engage a marginal part of the analysis as it largely concentrates on the subplot of Eclipse, hence not being particularly significant for the main events of the story. On the other hand, Meyer’s Midnight Sun, although until the present day a yet unfinished and unpublished manuscript, is of great importance for the subsequent analysis. As it narrates the events of Meyer’s debut novel Twilight from Edward Cullen’s point of view it is essential to the understanding of the vampire’s perspective. It can be considered a valid and relevant part of the series even though it is not widely read among the general readership of Meyer’s novels.

In my diploma thesis, I will trace back the sources Stephenie Meyer employs in her Twilight tetralogy regarding structures, themes, and characters. I will point out how they are adopted throughout her novels and in how far they influence the characteristics of Meyer’s work. Through that the question arises to what extent Meyer adopts the means of intertextuality to compose her stories. Therefore, questions to be considered are: What pretexts serve as structural layers for Meyer’s tetralogy? Does Meyer create an intertextual paradigm that can be found throughout her entire work? Are pretextual references distinctly marked within the series through direct quotations, allusions or by rather covert means of reference such as stereotypes? Are they obvious to the common reader? Are implicit intertextual references apparent to author and reader? Does Meyer employ intertextual markers in the paratext of her works? How far are intertextual markers contextualized in the themes of Twilight ? How does Meyer handle already prominent motifs? What is the relation between the ideas in intertexts and pretexts - are they in agreement or do they contradict each other? Which role does interfigurality play in Meyer’s tetralogy? How do Meyer’s characters deal with their interfigurality? Do they have the capacity to reflect on it? What can the names of Meyer’s characters tell us and where do they come from? Which forms do pretexts take in the tetralogy? Are they simply referred to or can they form a physical part of the world Meyer created? Are there any references to entire literary genres in Meyer’s work? What is the nature of the pretexts Meyer relies on? Which genres do they adhere to?

Meyer dwells on a number of themes, structures, and characters that have intertextual potential. One can distinguish between pretexts that are apparently marked in Meyer’s work and sources that only bear non-literal intertextual references. Pretexts that are overtly marked and are thus explicitly intertextual in the Twilight series are: Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, The Midsummer Night ’ s Dream and The Merchant of Venice, Bram Stoker’s Dracula as well as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park. A number of other pretexts are only covertly marked as they point back to literary traditions or character types. Pretexts that are implicitly marked are: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Die Braut von Korinth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel, John Keats’ Lamia, Henry Mackenzie’s The Man of Feeling, Lord Byron’s Manfred as well as Roman Polanski’s movie adaptation of Rosemary ’ s Baby.

To answer the questions which have been pointed out so far I will proceed as follows: An overview of the concept of hermeneutic, structuralist intertextuality as well as interfigurality (chapter 2.1.) is first of all necessary as pretextual references in Meyer’s work range widely from overt intertextual markers such as direct quotations to covert references. This approach focuses more on description and systemization in order to analyze two or more interrelated literary works. These implicit references to pretexts refer to certain character types as the anti-mother, damsel in distress and the femme fatale or to a heroic tradition like the Byronic hero. Since Meyer adopts different point of views in her tetralogy and especially endows her themes, motifs, and symbols with intertextual potential it is also beneficial to begin with a closer look on the narrator as well as themes, motifs, and symbols (chapter 2.2.). Meyer situates her novels within a twenty-first-century framework displaying vampires that have the potential to be good as well as evil, thus making it necessary to place her work within the context of contemporary vampire fiction (chapter 3.1.). A look at present-day research on the Twilight saga will also be beneficial to support the raison d' ê tre of the analysis at hand (chapter 3.2.). Twilight ’s vampiric protagonist, Edward Cullen, is placed within the tradition of the Byronic hero, thus incorporating characteristics from this hero type as well as the preceding Man of Feeling. As such it is of great relevance to take a closer look at the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century heroic tradition (chapter 4.1.-2.). Moreover, Meyer borrows a number of characteristics from the nineteenth-century vampire, who also inherited qualities from the Byronic hero, in her portrayal of the male and female vampires in her series (chapter 4.3.).

Meyer’s depiction of the postmodern vampire figure (chapter 5.1.) is intertextually productive as she constructs her vampires on the basis of their nineteenth-century predecessors, thus relying on the motif of the femme fatale as well as the Byronic hero. The distinct perspective that she adopts for the largest part of her narration is innovative whereas the vampiric point of view which she assumes in Midnight Sun is intertextual. Concepts of good and evil underline the revenant’s potential to inhabit every angle of presentation ranging from intimate friend to uncomplicated evil. The vampire’s position in society shows its prevailing status as an outsider, a characteristic that is also Byronic. Meyer’s treatment of the star-crossed lovers theme (chapter 5.2.), regarding the obstacles the lovers have to face, is of great intertextual productivity as it offers many parallels to Pride and Prejudice as well as Romeo and Juliet. Supported by direct references and by means of interfigurality, Meyer’s lovers also illustrate the fatality and irreversibility of their love as it is already displayed in Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights, again relying on both works on a structural level. Meanwhile, Meyer’s adoption of Frankenstein and Rosemary ’ s Baby, although only implicitly linked to both works, proves intertextually potent in the fear of and for the monstrous vampire hybrid. Once more, in her depiction of the damsel in distress and the anti- mother as well as the incorporation of structural elements such as letters and articles Meyer orientates herself on already established motifs and pretextual sources such as Stoker’s Dracula (chapter 5.3.).

2. Methodology

In order to examine structures, themes, and characters through the deployment of an intertextual method, it will be first of all necessary to decide which intertextual approach is most efficient for an analysis of the Twilight series. By the help of an intertextual analysis it will be possible to clearly determine the constituents in Meyer’s work that refer to pretextual sources and in which degree these parts rely on earlier texts. However, it will also highlight which components are truly innovative in Meyer’s series.

To accomplish this analysis it will be further beneficial to introduce and determine some of the most important narratological constituents of the Twilight saga such as the narrator and point of view as well as themes, motifs, and symbols in order to complement an intertextual analysis of the series.


By characterizing the interrelation between a text and its pretexts, these being the texts a given work draws on in order to extend and enforce its meaning, intertextuality is the study of how a text’s meaning is shaped by help of other works. This idea was initially based on Michail Bachtin’s theory of dialogism. It was then further expanded into a concept deducing that every text functions in an intertextual relation to other works and thus to a “texte général”, a term coined by Julia Kristeva. She also developed the term “intertextuality” in the 1960s. Kristeva’s poststructural approach that regards every text as an accumulation of an infinite number of preceding texts is, however, not adjuvant in carrying out an intertextual analysis of a literary text. Therefore, the deployed intertextual approach today is most of the time a structuralist one.5 With a focus on pretexts whose integration in the given work is often intended by the author and can further also be noticed by the reader, an approach to intertextuality was developed6 that could be used to analyze texts in relation to their pretexts, or, as Gérard Genette calls them, hypotexts. Contrary to the poststructural debate, the structural hermeneutic approach is of a strongly descriptive nature and will, therefore, be applied in this study. Along with this approach goes the terminology of Ulrich Broich and Manfred Pfister’s concept of intertextuality presented in their anthology Intertextualität: Formen, Funktionen, anglistische Fallstudien.

Elements of various pretexts can be transferred into a new text by means of quotation, allusion, parody, hints in the work’s title and chapter titles as well as in other parts of the paratext and in the primary text. This disposition of elements is intended by the author and aims at broadening as well as specifying the text’s relevance by means of pretextual elements. Meanwhile, un-intended transfer of elements through the author predominantly includes the use of stereotypes or character types and clichés. Therefore, the reader is the one who realizes the connections between text, interpretant - the effect that an intertextual reference has on the reader - and intertext7 and can decode intertextual references8.

Manfred Pfister develops six distinct criteria to analyze intertextual references in literary texts in his essay on the concepts of intertextuality. By the help of these criteria it is possible to judge the intensity of intertextual references within texts. Regarding the criterion of referentiality, intertextuality increases when the forerunning text broaches issues addressed in the given text and thereby approaches or distances itself from the pretext. Via the incorporation of marked intertextual references the author comments and interprets the pretext and thus depicts a new perspective on the text at hand. The term communicativity accounts for the degree of conscious intertextual reference on the side of the author as well as that of the recipient. Intertextuality is enhanced if references are clearly marked and if pretexts are known to the author as well as the reader. The criterion of auto-reflexivity signifies that the intertext itself, whose “constituents refer to constituents of one or several other texts […] which creates structural relations between itself and other texts”9, becomes a point of discussion within the successive text for the author. Intertextuality is then not only marked within the text but also becomes an issue in its own right and is judged and discussed due to its preconditions and its achievements. Pfister’s concept of structurality deals with the overall integration of a pretext into a given text. As such, the intertextual intensity is the strongest if a pretext functions as a structural layer for the subsequent text and is additionally marked by frequent intertextual references such as quotations or allusions. The intertextual paradigm that evolves can be found throughout the whole text. Another criterion deals with the selectivity of intertextual elements and points out that pretextual references are selected on purpose and abstracted to fit into the new text. Accordingly, a quotation from the pretext that is inserted into the subsequent text functions as a pars pro toto in the new context. It stands for a particular concept or idea of the pretext. The last criterion, the concept of dialogism, refers back to Michail Bachtin’s theory of dialogism and claims that a text “von umso höherer intertextueller Intensität ist, je stärker der ursprüngliche und der neue Zusammenhang in semantischer und ideologischer Spannung zueinander stehen”10. The intertextual reference is markedly strong if the intertext’s new idea opposes its original meaning in the pretext or if it, in any form, satirizes the initial text by its context in the subsequent one.

However, Manfred Pfister’s criteria are not exclusive and other aspects within the realm of intertextuality need to be considered, too. Intertextual references within a text can be marked or un-marked and, in addition, varying degrees of markedness exist ranging from literal to non-literal references. While a quotation through the use of inverted commas is a clearly marked intertextual device referring to a certain text, the allusion to a motif deployed anew can be rather obscure to the reader and sometimes even to the author. Meaningful words or phrases can evoke a complete set of distinct pretexts. The recognition of intertextual structures and references also depends on the reader’s ability and knowledge of former texts that allow them to spot these signals. In looking at the literary text as one of the most prominent sources for intertextuality, it will be further necessary to consider intertextual markers that occur in the paratext, as well. These pretextual signs can appear in every aspect of the paratext, in prefaces and epilogues, titles and subtitles as well as in mottoes or footnotes. “Autoren [können] die intertextuellen Bezüge ihrer Werke natürlich auch in Äußerungen markieren, die nicht im Zusammenhang mit diesen Werken publiziert werden“11. Such statements pointing out further potential intertextual references can be found in interviews or other forms of commentary, such as letters or an author’s list of favorite books, made public by the author.

Whether characters are aware of these intertextual references and act accordingly is also relevant. Characters might read other texts and discuss or even identify or distance themselves from the texts they read, which consequently creates more intertextual references.

Wolfgang G. Müller calls such characters “reading protagonist[s]”12 that empathize with literary figures and structure their own actions subsequently. Intertextuality is further intensified if pretexts appear within the text as physical objects such as books or if pretextual literary figures make their appearance within the new literary context. Additional markers can be set that are only recognizable by the readership but covert to the fictional heroes. Characters’ names and fictional places can bear intertextual significance. Furthermore, changes in typeface and diction can mark intertextual references and can point to a certain pretext.

Another important aspect within the study of intertextuality is interfigurality which describes the “interrelations that exist between characters of different texts”13. Re-used names are “one of the most prominent meaning-generating devices in literary name-giving”14 although they are also often used in altered forms through clipping or addition. However, not solely names are transported into new contexts but often also a character’s physical appearance and character traits. Nevertheless, a complete identification with pretextual figures can only rarely be achieved due to the new literary context. Intertextual figures create “a characteristic tension between similarity and dissimilarity with their models from the pre- texts”15, highlighting particular character traits while others are diminished. Intertextual characters dominantly appear if fictional heroes are modeled according to a heroic tradition or already established character types.

However, intertextual references can go even further than simply being markers of a numbered set of pretexts in a given text. References can also be made to a whole group of texts or a subgenre such as the Gothic novel in order to emphasize the appearance of elements in the subsequent text which the initial texts already share. In this case there is no specific pretext but rather a large number of texts that share common characteristics with the given text. The intertextual device in the new text can be found on every distinct discourse level of the text. Re-used figures also belong to this type of intertextuality if they derive from a heroic tradition or are considered as literary archetypes. The borderline between intertextual references that only have one singular source text and those that refer to a set of texts is rather intangible.

Given that the concept of intertextuality is an approach that is extensive and highly flexible, it can also be applied to non-literary texts. This kind of texts such as newspaper articles or letters can be included in an intended text as well as literary texts from differing genres. Thus, a poem that is inserted into a novel’s paratext or recited within the novel’s plot has intertextual significance and can broaden or clarify the given text’s meaning. Moreover, an intertextual reference in a text permits the reader to draw conclusions about the pretext and its constituents. More than a simple repetition, the dialogue that is created between two texts enforces the intertext’s meaning in the pretext or modernizes its proposition through modification and thus alters its significance. Another dimension of meaning is added in the new text which is furthermore enriched. Not exclusively bound to written works, intertextuality can transgress the realm of texts as well. Intermediality, “die Intertextualität zwischen Texten in verschiedenen Medien”16, analyzes the processing of texts into movies, theater productions or pieces of music and vice versa. New forms of intertextual reference arise in which the potential intertextual relevance increases when the pretext is reduced so that the new text gains in importance.

However, authors who consciously highlight intertextual references to pretexts in order to emphasize particular passages of their work often utilize diverse markers of varied degrees of markedness simultaneously. References to one and the same source text can, thus, accumulate or abate throughout the given text.

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series is interspersed with intertextual references in its themes, characters, and structure. Quotations from diverse literary texts are numerous and sometimes highlighted through its position in the paratext. Allusions to thematic intertextualities are also frequent though some themes such as the monster-creation-theme of Frankenstein or the motif of improbable conception in Rosemary ’ s Baby are fundamental to the terminal part of the series but are not directly referred to throughout the novel. As a consequence of this other themes are more dominant in the narrative. In addition, intertextual clichés and character types - impersonated by Bella, Edward, Jacob, and Reneé, or Victoria - are manifest, as well, as will be shown in the course of this study.

All of the categories that Manfred Pfister elaborates on can be applied to the Twilight saga with varying degrees of intensity. Twilight approaches themes, motifs, and characters of its pretexts in a critical manner and re-interprets and re-evaluates aspects of the anteceding texts. This criterion is highly productive. Several references to pretexts are clearly marked through quotations within the saga so that the author and the readers are aware of these links and the intertextual intensity is, thus, of great extent. Directly or indirectly, the intertext itself is frequently commented on by the author but only selectively discussed by characters within the series. However, it is frequently referred to if the intertextual reference is quoted and part of the narration and not only of the paratext. Then the characters within the narrated world know its meaning and source and usually comment on it which makes these references productive. Most of the time, these quotations or allusions are crucial to the pretext’s composition and thus chosen according to the criterion of selectivity. The criterion of structurality is productive in varying degrees throughout all the parts of the tetralogy. Literary as well as media-based pretexts function as layers for every distinct novel and while in Twilight and Breaking Dawn these layers are rather obscure, they are marked by quotations and directly pointed to in New Moon and Eclipse. References are allocated throughout the whole text. Pfister’s final criterion, the criterion of dialogism, is in parts productive if one thinks of the construction of the postmodern vampire and the references to Stoker’s Dracula which are satirical.

Intertextual references, most of the time quotations from pretexts as well as allusions in chapter titles, can be found in the paratext and thus intensify Twilight ’s overall intertextual significance. Pretextual literary figures that reappear in Twilight are not at all productive in the series. However, a limited number of characters are aware of distinct traits that they share with their figural ancestors and, therefore, add to the productivity of the criterion of auto- reflexivity. System references as to the Gothic novel, the literary vampire tradition or the Byronic hero are also frequent but they are only rarely marked by quotations and thus rather obscure. Inserted newspaper articles, letters and notes intensify the overall intertextual dialogue of the work.

Consequently, the Twilight saga and its themes, characters, and structure are intertextually productive in various ways and on distinct layers.


The narratological approach that will be applied in order to achieve a coherent and thorough intertextual analysis of the Twilight series is primarily focused on the narrator and his point of view as well as the main themes, motifs, and symbols that interweave the saga. In combination with a structuralist intertextual approach it will be possible to show similarities as well as disparities between the given texts and their pretexts.

2.2.1. Point of View and the Narrator

The narrator presents the portrayed world to the reader. He comments on actions that take place within the narrative framework, interprets the characters’ motivations, influences the reader’s empathy towards certain characters, and develops a system of social codes for the narrated world and the perception of it17. Franz K. Stanzel distinguishes between three different types of narrator: third-person narrator, first-person narrator, and figural narrator. He further differentiates between narrative mode (narrator and reflector), perspective (point of view, internal and external perspective), as well as person18.

The first-person narrator that is also evident in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series incorporates a large number of functions and offers various implications for the plot. Not every first-person narrator merges with the figure of the hero or heroine. Some first-person narrators tell their story from the periphery, thus commenting and judging other characters’ actions, functioning as a witness and observer or acting “as memorialist for a collective experience”19. To fuse the narrator’s identity with a fictional character often gives the narrative an atmosphere of authenticity and thus many implausible stories are told through the eyes of a first-person narrator20. However, the display of consciousness through a character’s thoughts and assumptions is an even more important feature of first-person narration. “Die Ich-Erzählsituation verifiziert […] ihre Subjektivität, ihre Realität als Bewußtseinsinhalt [sic] der Ich-Gestalt, oder vielmehr als eine letztlich unauflösliche Vermengung von objektiver, dinglicher Außen- und subjektiver, ideeller Innenwelt“21. Therefore, the focus lies on the internal perspective of the narrator. His personality, viewpoint, and attitudes are presented to the reader and the portrayed world turns into a retrospection of moments experienced anew.

Furthermore, the first-person narrator is always in some respects unreliable. “Er kann auf Grund seines Standortes in der Welt der Charaktere und auf Grund seiner Ausstattung mit einer auch körperlich determinierten Eigenpersönlichkeit […] nur eine persönlich-subjektive […] Ansicht von den erzählten Vorgängen haben“22. Additionally, the I-narrator of a quasi- autobiographical tale is characterized through his corporeal existence within the narrative and feels an existential urge to tell his story. The distinction between narrating self and experiencing self is also crucial since the narrating self has often undergone a process of psychic change and now mediates the story from a more knowing standpoint. Consequently, the narrating self can often no longer completely identify itself with the experiencing self since it has gained some desistance from the experiencing self. However, the narrating self can still recount events by not “adding information, opinions, or judgments that were not his during his past experience”23. An equilibrium between the telling qualities of the narrating self and the showing qualities of the experiencing self, thus, results in the ideal narrative situation.

A first-person narrator views the world through an internal perspective. As such a character is focalized by the narrator and his feelings, attitudes and thoughts are presented to the reader. Correspondingly, distinct features of the narrated world attract the readers’ interest while others do not. Stanzel further claims that “in die Opposition Innenperspektive - Außenperspektive […] auch der Gegensatz zwischen Perspektivismus und Aperspektivismus [eingeht]“24. As such, a character’s internal perspective in a narrative tends to display a spatial perception rather than a chronological one. This perception of space can either be perspective, predominantly featured in a narrator’s showing of events, or non-perspective, if the narrator applies the technique of telling. “Bei einer aperspektivischen Raumdarstellung bleibt die Orientierung im Raum unbestimmt, sie wird daher von jedem Leser auf Grund seiner individuellen Vorstellungsneigungen vorgenommen werden“25. Furthermore, the use of an internal perspective entails a limited point of view because the knowledge of the narrator can only be limited and subjective if it is tied to a first-person narrator. Sympathy or antipathy towards other figures can easily be displayed and techniques like the interior monologue or free indirect discourse create a sense of immediacy in the narration.

The narrative mode describes the discrepancy between the mediacy of telling and the immediacy of showing, or scenic presentation of events, in a narration. It constitutes the distinction between the use of a narrator or a reflector to narrate events. “Eine Erzählerfigur erzählt, berichtet, zeichnet auf, teilt mit, […] eine Reflektorfigur reflektiert, […] nimmt wahr, empfindet, registriert, aber immer stillschweigend, denn sie ‚erzählt‘ nie“26. The reflector’s consciousness is directly presented to the reader. An illusion of immediacy is generated through the reflector. Just as the presentation of a narration can shift from narrating self to experiencing self and vice versa so can the use of narrator and reflector vary within a narration. Consequently, aspects and events that could be crucial to the plot can be absent due to the strongly focused perspective of the reflector.

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight tetralogy is narrated through the eyes of the novel’s heroine Bella Swan and her friend Jacob Black. The spheres of existence of the narrators and fictional characters are identical so that the narrators are also characters in the fictional world. While the heroine in Twilight is at the heart of the action and inhabits the role of the protagonist, Jacob as a narrator stands at the periphery of the narrated world and functions as an I-as-witness. He gives the reader insights from the standpoint of a mere outsider and judges other characters’ actions accordingly. Furthermore, Bella’s and Jacob’s thoughts, feelings and attitudes are displayed as is their unreliability since an inner perspective is applied to both narrators. The narrating self is mainly evident in the first chapters of each part of the saga, while the experiencing self dominates the remaining text. However, the narrating self is still present every time parts of the narrative are summarized. The narrating self has not distanced itself from the experiencing self and thus does not criticize or judge the experiencing self. As such, the narrative mode that Meyer mainly applies due to the experiencing self is the method of showing “d. h. Spiegelung der fiktionalen Wirklichkeit im Bewußtsein [sic] einer Romangestalt, wobei im Leser die Illusion der Unmittelbarkeit seiner Wahrnehmung der fiktionalen Welt entsteht“27.

Although a first-person narrator with an internal perspective and a limited point of view which influences the reader’s sympathies and antipathies for certain characters narrates Twilight, the plot is told in a chronological manner and only occasionally interspersed by analepses. Spatial descriptions are mainly perspective if they are reflected by the experiencing self so that the orientation within a room is determined by the narrator. A sense of immediacy is achieved through the display of Bella’s and Jacob’s thoughts and feelings via interior monologues and free indirect discourse. Both characters variably function as narrators and reflectors within the plot and events such as the killings in Seattle in Eclipse remain obscure to Bella as the reflector. The intertextual intensity of auto-reflexivity is further enhanced because the reader has access to Bella’s and Jacob’s thoughts and feelings.

2.2.2. Themes, Motifs, Symbols

A theme is the main idea that an author expresses within a novel. It is often abstract and can usually be interpreted in a variety of ways due to the characters of the novel, the conflict and the time the novel depicts, or the social circumstances that are questioned in the work. Thus, it is made concrete through its presentation in actions, persons, and images in the novel. Many themes that are taken up today have already been treated by previous authors. “Tatsächlich greifen jedoch viele Schriftsteller […] auf überlieferte komplexe Handlungsgefüge […] zurück, die schon einen gewissen Bekanntheitsgrad besitzen und die deshalb bestimmte Publikumserwartungen auslösen“28. Thus, every theme also has an intertextual dimension which makes it possible to compare the treatment of a specific theme in an author’s work with earlier implementations of the same theme. Twilight ’s main theme can be described as the falling in love against all human and non-human odds. Additionally, significant themes that contribute to the main theme are miscommunication, obstacles to a relationship, the star- crossed lovers as well as fear of and for the other. It is, therefore, no surprise that “Werke, die solche traditionsschwangeren Stoffe aufgreifen, normalerweise ein gesteigertes Maß an intertextuellen Bezügen [aufweisen]“29.

Motifs are closely linked to a novel’s themes. They are often recurring within the framework of a literary text and are also highly intertextual since other authors have often already dealt with the same motifs in the past. “Motive zeigen Personen und Sachen nicht isoliert, sondern in einen Zusammenhang, d. h. eine Situation, gestellt“30. Motifs usually help to develop the text’s major themes. The most significant motif, and also a leitmotif, in the Twilight series is the lover’s meadow as a locus amoenus and contrary to it the clearing as a place for athletic challenge and fight as a locus terribilis. Both of them have a constant place in the saga and reoccur at several points throughout the texts’ plot. The clearing motif is one of the most significant motifs in the Twilight series since many meaningful decisions are made at these places. Other motifs that play an important role within the series and are highly intertextual are the vampire motif, the motif of light and darkness as opposing as well as overlapping concepts, the motif of drugs and addiction due to love, the lovers’ conflict due to ancestry, rivalry in love, the rebel, the demonic seductress or femme fatale and the femme fragile among others.

Symbols are objects, characters, places, or colors that represent abstract ideas. Thus, a symbol has more meaning attributed to it then is obvious at first glance. “Ein dichterisches Symbol muß [sic] konkretes Ding oder echte Person im Handlungsgefüge sein“31. While the symbol itself is always something concrete in the story, its meaning is usually abstract although it still relates to the object itself. “Es kann nicht mit dem ausgetauscht werden, was es symbolisiert, und nicht wie das X einer Gleichung durch seinen wirklichen Wert ersetzt werden. Denn es ist zugleich das, für das es steht […] zugleich aber ist es mehr und anderes, unbestimmt und nicht identifizierbar“32. Thus, it stands for itself and also for something else evoking another level of meaning. Symbols that are important throughout the Twilight saga are people’s scent, celestial bodies such as the distinct states of the moon, the stars, the meteor, and the sun, the hole in Bella’s chest, or Edward’s hallucinated voice among others.

3. Directions in Research

Naturally, there have always been a great number of commentaries and critical literary articles whenever a renowned piece of vampire fiction has been published throughout the last two centuries. A beginning was surely made with John Keats’s poem Lamia (1820) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Christabel (1797). The vampire’s first appearance in an English novel - John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) based on a fragment composed by Lord Byron33 - proved to be an immediate step into subsequent literature of that kind. As these were followed by the penny-dreadful Varney the Vampire (1847), Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), the vampire became one of the most prominent motifs in nineteenth-century fantastic literature. Although a vast number of vampire novels and short stories were published in the subsequent seventy years34 and beyond, critical works in the early decades of the twentieth century almost exclusively concentrated on the cultural varieties of vampirism in Europe. Fueled by the general rise of cultural studies but also due to the vampire’s constant popularity on screen35 and the success of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles (1976-2003), literary criticism on vampire fiction has been vast since the 1970s. Especially Dracula and its psychological roots, in terms of homosexuality, incest, and female sexuality, as well as its relation to late nineteenth-century social and political issues were heavily debated. However, this discussion also allowed other works of vampire fiction to be considered for critical examination. Ever since the 1970s the literary vampire has been a favorite of scholarly attention and with Dracula ’s centennial anniversary in 199736, its dominance in cinema and on TV37 as well as the worldwide popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series this interest seems far from abating in the near future.


Margaret L. Carter spots the modern vampire in the 1970s when “vampire novels proliferated in unprecedented numbers”38 and when the literary vampire was first portrayed as “domesticated” and re-humanized. In the last three decades, vampiric fiction and vampires have been sketched as the juxtaposition of supernatural and psychic vampirism, as the substitution of the demonically evil revenant by a more sympathetic vampire. This “new” type of vampire is a referential other with a free will in a secularized world. Authors begin to construct their vampiric novels based on a science fiction perspective or let their non-human heroes star in romances and thus create intimacy between the human and the undead other. Although already prominent since the 1990s, the vampire romance is still a productive subgenre of vampire fiction with the Twilight saga as one of its many descendants.

While scholarly work on Meyer’s Twilight series has only begun to emerge within the last two years, literary criticism on postmodern vampire fiction has been around for more than a decade by now. Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger’s anthology Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture examines the transformations of the archetype from its nineteenth-century forebears. Gordon and Hollinger’s work illuminates how the vampire reflects on changes in postmodern culture and becomes, just as Nina Auerbach claims in her study Our Vampires, Ourselves, the realism our culture finally understands and what every generation needs. Especially, Jules Zanger’s “Metaphor into Metonymy: The Vampire next Door”, Margaret L. Carter’s “The Vampire as Alien in Contemporary Culture” and Veronica Hollinger’s “Fantasies of Absence: The Postmodern Vampire” in Blood Read make predications on the “new” vampire of the twenty-first century and are, thus, relevant for this study. Certainly, these scholars are able to illustrate recent tendencies in vampire literature, such as the vampire on the boundary between intimate and referential other and the trend towards an absence of the fantastic other that leaves us “with the look into the mirror and [we] see nothing but ourselves”39. However, they do not comment on the latest developments in vampire fiction that series like Meyer’s Twilight saga brought about by incorporating representations of fantastic otherness. Meyer’s tetralogy displays the self and the other at the same time and extends notions of absence into a concept of denial for the vampiric bite and, consequently, the suspensive delay of sexual intimacy.

Mary Y. Hallab’s Vampire God: The Allure of Undead in Western Culture goes in a similar direction as Gordon and Hollinger do in their Blood Read anthology. Hallab intensively debates on the reliability of vampire literature in reflecting about the meaning of death and the human soul - a point of discussion that Meyer takes up in her series, as well. Margaret L. Carter’s “Revampings of Dracula in Contemporary Fiction” as well as William Hughes’ essay on “Fictional Vampires in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries” name the distinct characteristics of the twenty-first century vampire. They precisely allude to the change of perspective, the re-humanization of the undead and the forms of abstinence such as the denial of the vampiric bite and the refusal of sexual closeness in postmodern vampire literature. Despite these works, none discusses Twilight as a potential commentary on postmodern culture in the context of a new culmination of vampire literature that is situated within the scope of an intertextual analysis, although Hallab’s publication only dates back a year ago, to 2009.


There are hardly any notable book-length publications in the scholarly field on Meyer’s work so far. However, with the constantly growing popularity of the series and the associated vampire fiction genre an increasing number of scholarly work can be assumed to be published in the near future. Situating the novels within the framework of philosophical theory, Rebecca Housel and J. Jeremy Wisnewski’s Twilight and Philosophy: Vampires, Vegetarians and the Pursuit of Immortality is one of the few critical works published so far, almost doing pioneer work on the subject. Within this anthology on morality, food analogies and the ethics of vegetarianism, as well as the question of divinity, Abigail E. Myers’s paper “Edward Cullen and Bella Swan: Byronic and Feminist Heroes … or Not”, draws special attention on the protagonists’ disposition within heroic traditions. As a topic that has already been prominent among other scholars dealing with Byronic vampires in general but also with Meyer’s vampires in particular, the question of Byronic heroism was also raised by Stephanie Mendoza’s essay “From Dawn to Twilight: The Byronic Hero” and Teresa Cotsirilos’s commentary “Bella and Byron: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series”. Mendoza and Cotsirilos are able to shed a new and extremely interesting light on Edward Cullen’s position within the heroic tradition of the Byronic hero. However, they are not fully sufficient since an intertextual scope, which can be considered fruitful for Meyer’s work, is not applied to their considerations. Kate Cochran applies a basic intertextual focus in her scientific paper on “‘An Old-fashioned Gentleman’? Edward’s Imaginary History” as she situates the hero of Meyer’s series in a line with a number of nineteenth-century Romantic heroes such as Darcy, Rochester, and Heathcliff. Notwithstanding Cochran’s correct classification of Edward as an intertextual figure, she does not accomplish a thorough analysis of the hero’s Byronic qualities but merely refers to overt intertextual references in the Twilight saga. The anthology Twilight & History40 that also contains Cochran’s paper compiles a vivid analysis of the series’ most important characters classifying them in terms of their own fictional history but then again does not consider them along intertextual parameters.

Other scholars such as Gabriella Calchi Novati and Kirsten Stevens are concerned with otherness, selfhood and the family in Twilight41. Meyer’s personal religious views and their effect on Twilight are also frequently being debated on. Leonie Viola Thöne points out the various cornerstones of Mormonism in her work Die Figur Edward Cullen: Moderner Mormonen-Missionar oder Vampir-Romantiker?42 and puts them in connection to the series and the moral values it conveys. A similar approach is taken in Marc E. Shaw’s essay “For the Strength of Bella? Meyer, Vampires, and Mormonism” published in the Twilight and Philosophy anthology. However, neither Thöne nor Shaw adopts an intertextual scope to their analyses.

One of the first comparative analysis was done by Elizabeth Nelson in her essay “Monstrous Desire: Love, Death, and Marriage from Eros and Psyche to Edward and Bella” by reporting on the similarities in the tale of Cupid and Psyche and Twilight. Although highly interesting, Nelson’s essay does not approach textually-evident intertextual references in the vampire saga. She more or less draws her conclusions from content-related analogies and an examination of the unequal, but unique relationship of the two couples.

So far the only intertextual analysis based on textually-evident material as well as covert intertextual markers from the Twilight saga is carried out by Glennis Byron in her paper “‘As one dead’: Romeo and Juliet in the ‘Twilight’ zone”. In her essay Byron discusses the parallels of Meyer’s second novel, New Moon, and Romeo and Juliet. She claims that in modern-day adaptations of Shakespeare’s tragedy the conflict between the lovers and their families is the focal point of action as “drastic measures are quite unnecessary. The focus is instead on conflict, on the ‘ancient grudge’ (Prologue: 3) and […] on the autonomy of desire”43. Moreover, she makes the assumption that the spontaneous love which is celebrated in Shakespeare’s play is rather threatening and dangerous to the characters’ authentic identity in Meyer’s series. However, although Byron develops an interesting comparative analysis of both texts regarding their differing conceptions of love, her essay does not touch on any other intertextual relations of the saga. She also does not consider the characters’ further potential for interfigurality and does not adopt a straightforward concept of intertextuality.

4. Man of Feeling, Byronic Hero and the Nineteenth-Century Vampire

The literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth century in England spawned a vast literary heroic tradition. With the emergence of the hero type of the Man of Feeling that the enormous production of sentimental literature brought about in the eighteen century a hero was created who was feeling, sensible and not adapted to the cruelties that life posed to him. Despite his fragility the Man of Feeling had a significant impact on the nineteenth-century heroic tradition. The Byronic hero, probably the literary hero with the largest number of contemporary and popular descendants up until the present day, also adopted some of his qualities from this sensitive eighteenth-century hero.

As the Byronic hero’s constitution is based on a wide range of hero types that were prominent throughout the preceding decades of his evolution, his ability to represent multi- faceted characters endows him with the capability to challenge prevailing limitations and exceed them. This is a characteristic which he also imparted on the nineteenth-century vampire who was partially designed after him. Throughout Romanticism and beyond the vampire served as the most favored example of the fantastic other as it transgressed boundaries and presented various possibilities to exemplify evil through its manifold faces.

In this chapter it is, thus, essential to take a closer look at the peculiar hero types in English literature, as already mentioned, and the influence they have on the formation of the vampire in nineteenth-century literature. As such, a new light is shed on Meyer’s construction of her vampires and heroes.


The sentimental literature in eighteenth-century England gave rise to a new hero type that was to influence its heroic descendants in the years that followed. Sensibility “came to denote the faculty of feeling, the capacity for extremely refined emotion and a quickness to display compassion for suffering”44. The movement was expedited through prayers for natural benevolence in the churches of that time45 and the philosophical works of the third Earl of Shaftesbury, who is nowadays often referred to as “the ‘father’ of eighteen-century sentimentalism”46. Sentimental impulses in literature are, however, recurrent and were already imminent in medieval morality plays and Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, whereas the centrality of sentiment and pathos is fairly new in eighteenth-century literature and moral philosophy. With its aim to conduct its readers and to manipulate them as to provoke tears, sentimental currents in literature drew on archetypical victims such as chaste, suffering women and sensitive, benevolent men to convey feelings to its readership. “A sentimental work moralizes more than it analyses and emphasis is not on the subtleties of a particular emotional state but on the communication of common feeling from sufferer or watcher to reader or audience”47.

This also affected the text’s appearance. Prescribed words such as ‘virtue’ and ‘esteem’ became conventional, repetitive and often overcharged through intensifying prefixes. The sentence structure was interrupted by dashes, asterisks or brackets to feign the reactive and unstable flow of sensibility. Furthermore, “terms and structures are repeated to heighten intensity”48. The overall text is presented as fragmented as “absence is one of the major tropes of sentimental fiction”49. Therefore, gaps are inserted as pretense of missing chapters to underline the distinct qualities of extreme feeling and the inarticulateness of sensibility. However, this also offers the narrator the possibility to narrate episodes of distress without the burden of dull connections. Sentimental elements further had an influence on Gothic fiction as well as Romantic poetry50 after the 1770s.

The Man of Feeling, the hero type that was created in sentimental literature, is a vulnerable, sensitive man. Named after Henry Mackenzie’s novel of sentimentality The Man of Feeling which was published in 1771 at the peak of literary sensibility, the hero’s “benevolence arose from fellow feeling and ready identification with the unfortunate”51. The Man of Feeling proved not only to be important in the eighteenth century but had a significant impact on the conception of the Romantic Byronic hero of the nineteenth century. Mackenzie’s novel of sensibility became one of the most popular of the day52 and its author was initially highly appraised for his work.

The character of a Man of Feeling, who often belongs to the middle class or lower gentry, is above all defined by his amiable qualities. He believes in the innocence of heart, is excessively compassionate in his actions, and appears extraordinary in his readiness to help others. Therefore, he “presupposes the doctrines of the essential goodness of human nature”53. The combination of these character traits causes the rise in prominence of the Man of Feeling in the middle of the eighteenth century. He often has a pale complexion, is inclined to illnesses and fever due to his fragile constitution and sometimes even seems effeminate. Through his simplicity of manners, careless generosity, and sweet sensibility he stands in strong contrast to the uncaring, decadent and often unjust world he inhabits. Too exquisite for vulgarity and for the selfishness of the world “the man of feeling […] avoided manly power and assumed the womanly qualities of tenderness and susceptibility”54. Thus, he frequently looses the balance between sense and sensibility through his excess of sensitivity and his naivety55.

However, the victims whom he helps in their desperation, the suffering women, the powerless servants, and the exquisite men, are mere props to display the hero’s virtues and amiable qualities. Their pain and grief is overplayed through the Man of Feeling’s virtues which “on the whole occur defensively and impotently and their possession always creates the victim”56. His acts of sensibility are mere ineffectualities as they bring the victim into being in the first instance. They are existent in order to present and exhibit the hero’s sentimental characteristics and his benevolence to emotional display in helping them ease their pain and suffering. Besides, sentimental novels have a strong instructional character because “incidents occur solely for the maxims they produce, and there is no interest in the personalities necessary to create such incidents”57. The hero’s virtue first and foremost creates the necessity of victims to accentuate his own virtue.

Mackenzie’s vulnerable hero of sensibility, Harley, shows the mechanisms of a hostile and cruel world on a thoroughly sentimental man. His journey to a capitalist London presents the city as a mere place of animosity to which, in contrast, the countryside appears to be a haven of open-heartedness and benevolence - a dichotomy between urban and rural settings that Meyer similarly picks up in her Twilight series. The people who cross his way in town are either suffering victims to whom London has proved to be a fatal decision or they are scoundrels in their behavior and attitudes and the source of misery to others. The city highlights the uncorrupted nature und innocence of the male hero but also strangely emphasizes his separation and alienation from society. The curate who hands over Harley’s papers to the narrator tells him that he saw Harley “playing at te-totum with the children, on the great stone at the door of our grave-yard”58. The hero, with children as his only friends, stands alone in an uncivil world that is free of kindness, further underlined through the distance between narrator, fictional editor and sentimental hero. However, his solidarity is a form of self-imposed isolation, thus heightening his distance from other human beings.

As one of the major eighteenth-century hero types59 the Man of Feeling is “set apart from common men because of his peculiar and exacerbated sensitivity, although he shares the professed moral and social codes of his neighbors”60. He accepts the rules of the community he lives in although he is a mere outsider to that society. With his whimsical constitution, timid temperament - almost to the point of cowardice - and natural goodness the Man of Feeling is, therefore, far from becoming a rebel in his time. Although the Man of Feeling lends some of his own, most dominant characteristics to the Romantic hero type of the Byronic hero and has a “great survival power in the literature of the times and of the succeeding age”61, he dies in the end of a mere excess of sensibility proving his inaptness of dealing with his surroundings once more. His chosen isolation is the “very antithesis of the moralistic Man of Feeling’s emphasis on social sympathy”62. It explains the succeeding self- imposed isolation of later Romantic hero types to which the Man of Feeling has been a crucial predecessor.


The Romantic hero with the most significant consequences for European literature in the nineteenth century was by far the Byronic hero. As an incorporation of different eighteenth- and nineteenth-century hero types the Byronic hero emerges as the epitome of the Romantic hero.


1 Stephenie Meyer on the genesis of her first Twilight novel: Stephenie Meyer, “Interview: ‘Twilight’ author Stephanie [sic] Meyer,” Interview with Wm Morris, A Motley Vision: Mormon Arts and Culture 26 Oct. 2005, 1 Nov. 2010 <>.

2 Mary Shelley, “Introduction to ‘Frankenstein’, Third Edition (1831),” in Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, ed. J. Paul Hunter (New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996) 172.

3 Anne K. Mellor, Mary Shelley: Her Life, her Fiction, her Monsters (London: Routledge, 1989) 37. 3

4 “An Interview with Stephenie Meyer” (supplementary material on 2nd DVD). Twilight: Biss zumMorgengrauen, dir. Catherine Hardwicke, perfs. Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Billy Burke, 2008, DVD, 2 Disc Fan Edition, Concorde Home Entertainment, 2009.

5 For further information on the two contrary approaches to intertextuality see Arne Klawitter and Michael Ostheimer, Literaturtheorie - Ansätze und Anwendungen (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008) 93-105, Heinrich F. Plett, “Intertextualities,” Intertextuali t y, ed. Heinrich F. Plett (Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1991) 3-29, and Manfred Pfister, “Konzepte der Intertextualität,” Intertextualität: Formen, Funktionen, anglistische Fallstudien, eds. Ulrich Broich and Manfred Pfister (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1985) 1-30.

6 In opposition to the poststructuralist approach which claims that every text is part of a universal text (Julia Kristeva), the structuralist hermeneutic approach takes up a different definition of the text and applies a descriptive concept of intertextuality. The approach is represented by literary critics such as Karlheinz Stierle and Gérard Genette who developed the first typology of intertextual references for literary texts.

7 Cf. Manfred Pfister, “Konzepte der Intertextualität,” Intertextualität: Formen, Funktionen, anglistische Fallstudien, eds. Ulrich Broich and Manfred Pfister (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1985) 20.

8 Cf. Jörg Helbig, Intertextualität und Markierung: Untersuchungen zur Systematik und Funktion der Signalisierung von Intertextualität (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag C. Winter, 1996) 72-75.

9 Heinrich F. Plett, “Intertextualities,” Intertextuality, ed. Heinrich F. Plett (Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1991) 5.

10 Pfister, “Konzepte der Intertextualität,” 29.

11 Ulrich Broich, “Formen der Markierung von Intertextualität,“Intertextualität: Formen, Funktionen,anglistische Fallstudien, eds. Ulrich Broich and Manfred Pfister (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1985) 38. 10

12 Wolfgang G. Müller, “Interfigurality: A Study on the Interdependence of Literary Figures,” Intertextuality, ed. Heinrich F. Plett (Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1991) 116.

13 Ibid., 101.

14 Ibid., 103.

15 Ibid., 109.

16 Horst Zander, “Intertextualität und Medienwechsel,” Intertextualität: Formen, Funktionen, anglistische Fallstudien, eds. Ulrich Broich and Manfred Pfister (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1985) 178. 12

17 Cf. Monika Fludernik, Einführung in die Erzähltheorie (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2006) 37f.

18 Cf. Franz K. Stanzel, Theorie des Erzählens (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 82008) 30ff.

19 Dorrit Cohn, Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978) 204.

20 Franz K. Stanzel, therefore, names several examples, among them: Thomas More’s Utopia and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver ’ s Travels, in his study Typische Formen des Romans (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 101993) 29.

21 Franz K. Stanzel, Typische Formen des Romans (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 101993) 30. 14

22 Stanzel, Theorie des Erzählens, 122f.

23 Cohn, Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction, 155.

24 Stanzel, Theorie des Erzählens, 151.

25 Ibid., 164.

26 Ibid., 194.

27 Ibid., 71.

28 Jost Schneider, Einführung in die Roman-Analyse (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2003) 28.

29 Ibid., 29.

30 Elisabeth Frenzel, Stoff-, Motiv- und Symbolforschung (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler Verlag, 41978) 29. 17

31 Ibid., 36.

32 Ibid., 38.

33 Byron’s fragmented story, later called “Fragment of a Novel”, was obviously inspired by Goethe’s ballad Die Braut von Korinth. Cf. Clemens Ruthner, Am Rande: Kanon, Kultur ö konomie und Intertextualität des Marginalen am Beispiel der ( ö sterreichischen) Phantastik im 20. Jahrhundert (Tübingen: Francke, 2004) 140.

34 For a detailed listing on the treatment of the vampire motif in English literature from 1900 until 1970 plus a list of twentieth-century movie adaptations see: Margaret L. Carter, “The Vampire,” Icons of Horror and the Supernatural: An Encyclopedia of Our Worst Nightmares, Volumes 1 and 2, ed. S. T. Joshi (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007) 619-652.

35 Already 12 major vampire films were produced until the mid-1970s, among them Hammer Studios’ popular Dracula series with Christopher Lee and Roman Polanski’s vampire satire Dance of the Vampires (1967).

36 A newly revised Norton Critical Edition of Stoker’s Dracula, edited by Nina Auerbach and David J. Skal, as well as the anthologies Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture, edited by Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger, and Bram Stoker ’ s Dracula: Sucking through the Century 1897-1997, edited by Carol Margaret Davison, were published among others.

37 Among the most popular cinematic features are the Blade trilogy, the Underworld trilogy, and the sequel Queen of the Damned to the 1994 movie adaption of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. Meanwhile, the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer enjoyed great popularity on TV from 1997 until its seventh season finale in 2003.

38 Carter, “The Vampire,” Icons of Horror and the Supernatural, ed. S. T. Joshi, 628.

39 Veronica Hollinger, “Fantasies of Absence: The Postmodern Vampire,” Blood Read: The Vampire asMetaphor in Contemporary Culture, eds. Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997) 201.

40 Cf. Nancy R. Reagin, ed., Twilight & History (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010).

41 Cf. Gabriella Calchi Novati, “Who we might be - Performing the Potentialities of Otherness and Selfhood: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga,” Inter-Disciplinary.Net: A Global Network for Dynamic Research and Publishing, 2009, 1 Nov. 2010 < m7-draft-paper.pdf> and Kirsten Stevens, “Meet the Cullens: Family, Romance and Female Agency in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Twilight’,” Slayage - The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association, 8.1[29] 64 pars., 1 Nov. 2010 <>.

42 Cf. Leonie Viola Thöne, Die Figur Edward Cullen: Moderner Mormonen-Missionar oder VampirRomantiker? (Dresden: edition Wissenschaft, 2009).

43 Glennis Byron, “‘As one dead‘: Romeo and Juliet in the ‘Twilight’ zone,” Gothic Shakespeares, eds. John Drakakis and Dale Townshend (Abingdon; New York: Routledge, 2008) 170.

44 Janet Todd, Sensibility: An Introduction (London; New York: Methuen, 1986) 7.

45 Especially the latitudinarian Anglican churches emphasized the significance of benevolence. 24

46 Peter L. Thorslev Jr., The Byronic Hero: Types and Prototypes (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1962) 36.

47 Todd, Sensibility, 4.

48 Ibid., 5.

49 Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling, ed. Brian Vickers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) xvi.

50 Cf. Todd, Sensibility, 9.

51 Michael Bell, Sentimentalism, Ethics and the Culture of Feeling (New York: Palgrave, 2000) 181.

52 Cf. Michael Gassenmeier, Der Typus des ‘ Man of Feeling ’ : Studien zum sentimentalen Roman des 18. Jahrhunderts in England (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1972) 124.

53 Thorslev, The Byronic Hero, 21.

54 Todd, Sensibility, 88f.

55 Cf. Gassenmeier, Der Typus des ‘ Man of Feeling ’, 129.

56 Todd, Sensibility, 94.

57 Ibid., 91.

58 Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling, ed. Brian Vickers, 4.

59 The other important hero type of the eighteenth century is the Child of Nature according to Peter L. Thorslev Jr.’s study on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century hero types and the Byronic Hero in Peter L. Thorslev Jr., The Byronic Hero: Types and Prototypes (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1962).

60 Thorslev, The Byronic Hero, 21.

61 Ibid., 35.

62 Ibid., 39.

Luchino Visconti occupies a singular position in film history. He was instrumental in the creation of modern cinema by being the first to throw down the neo-realist gauntlet with Ossessione (1942) and later contributed one of the movement’s canonical cornerstones, La Terra Trema (1948). Of the three giants of the first wave of post war neo-realists, he was the only one to maintain his position at the forefront of art cinema into the ’60s, when Rossellini had moved to television and De Sica was making more commercial films. Visconti’s later career was devoted to the creation of a series of period movies including Senso (1954), The Leopard (Il Gattopardo, 1963) and Death in Venice (Morte a Venezia,1971) that are still without parallel in terms of atmosphere, detail and sheer dramatic force. It was in these that his genius, although often evident from his earliest work onwards, developed fully.

As his career progressed it became apparent that Visconti was, like Bresson and Dreyer, a lonely, stubborn, uncompromising giant who navigated a very personal course that frequently ran parallel with that of film history, yet remained rather aloof from it. He made relatively few films and gained the reputation of being a fastidious and sometimes ruthless perfectionist. However, unlike Bresson or Dreyer, Visconti was not a severe minimalist who worked according to strict theories; rather his style was sumptuous, lush and constantly open to influence from his subject matter. With equally important careers in opera and theatre, as well as a deep knowledge of literature and painting, Visconti was one of the most complete artists ever to have worked in the cinema. While probably seeing himself as a classicist, Visconti arrived at many of the same formal conclusions as the more self-consciously revolutionary filmmakers of his time, but by different methods. Unlike Bresson he never rejected cinema as it was; unlike Godard he never used his films to question established techniques. Rather, Visconti pushed the cinematic creative envelope simply because the limits of film narrative were not big enough to contain the scope and complexity of his vision.

Although Visconti never managed to get his script of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past made, if ever a cinematic oeuvre managed to capture the notion of ‘time regained’, it is his. The recurring theme of his period films was the decadence and decline of upper class milieus in the face of historical upheaval: the last months of the Austrian occupation in Senso, the unification of Italy in The Leopard and of Germany in Ludwig (1972), the rise of the Third Reich in The Damned. In these films, the aristocratic Visconti – born Count Luchino Visconti de Modrone – whose life was as extraordinary as anything he ever filmed, almost certainly felt more at home in the vanished worlds he was recreating than he did in our modern one. The emotional investment he placed in their recreation was therefore far deeper than the requirements of good craftsmanship. In fact, it is tempting to view the second half of his oeuvre as sometimes almost bordering on the autobiographical, particularly after The Damned (La Caduta degli Dei, 1969). With the exception of White Nights (Le Notti Bianchi, 1957), the committed communist Visconti was adamant that all his previous films were in some way political. The Damned, although set during Hitler’s rise to power, represented a despairing comment on the events of 1968 after which the director gave up political filmmaking to concentrate on purely personal projects. While the similarities between Burt Lancaster’s Sicilian Prince caught up in changing times in The Leopard and the Milanese filmmaker were much remarked upon, Visconti retorted by citing his commitment to progressive political change. Yet, as an artist, it is undeniably his emotional connection to the past rather than his ideological beliefs that have yielded his best work.

These later, ‘personal’ films include Death in Venice, Ludwig, Conversation Piece (Gruppo di Famiglia in un Interno, 1974) and The Innocent (L’Innocente, 1976). The Innocent, adapted from a novel by Gabriele d’Annunzio, is a cruel tale of marital disintegration set at the turn of the 19th century enriched by Visconti’s memories of his own parents. The other three have in common an isolated central character that has withdrawn from the world. All three deal with a confrontation with latent homosexuality and the heroes of both Ludwig and Conversation Piece are men who attempt to live in another age. The most striking parallels between events in Visconti’s life and these later films is in Ludwig, the story of a privileged aristocrat primarily concerned with art, who experiences an ill-fated love affair with a princess and subsequently becomes homosexual – all of which is equally true of Visconti. While a tortured relationship with current changes and events also featured in The Leopard, the Prince’s positive action, like Visconti’s, is very different from the evasiveness and even escapism that, to a greater or lesser extent, plagues many of the sometimes quite pathetic characters of the later films. Although any conclusions about just how much of himself Visconti saw in these men must remain largely speculative, it is interesting to consider the possible extent to which his filmmaking allowed him to recreate a world he felt more comfortable in than the one around him. For Visconti this recreation was more than simply a case of set dressing. Although his care with even the most minute details of sets, costumes and performance in his productions is legendary, this recreation extended equally into the time, rhythm and space of each period he evoked.

Visconti’s first historical movie was Senso, a bold break with neo-realism with its big stars, lavish sets and costumes, lustrous colour photography and period setting. Although in many ways a fine film, when looked at in the light of the subtle, multi-layered works that were to come, Senso is obviously just a rough sketch. It could be argued that his belated neo-realist masterpiece Rocco and his Brothers (Rocco e I soui Fratelli, 1960) came much closer to what he was to achieve in his best works in its mastery of the epic form, its structural originality and its success in the very difficult job of satisfactorily melding personal drama and historical circumstances.

The first of his great late works was The Leopard, in which he reached full maturity, both thematically – in his exploration of the decline of an aristocratic way of life – and stylistically. Georges Sadoul describes this adaptation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel about the compromises a Sicilian Prince (Burt Lancaster) has to make with the newly powerful middle class, as a “fresco” of Sicilian life at the time. (1) It is more episodic than linear, relaxed enough to engage in lengthy historical and political debate. There is an emphasis on capturing rituals – masses, dinners, travel, dances. While scenes such as the picnic towards the beginning or the slow pan across the city at sunset before the start of the famous ball scene are ‘unnecessary’ to the plot, they add enormously to the atmospheric texture of the piece. Visconti’s best films have the rare quality of existing in space as much, if not more, than in time. It is an intensely visual style of filmmaking, which involves immersing the audience in the atmosphere of each scene and gradually overwhelming them with it as opposed to rushing from one scene to the next in pursuit of narrative tension. Of all the directors who, each in their own very unique way, practice a similar approach – Dreyer, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Jansco, Angelopoulos, Tarr, certain films by Kubrick and Wenders – Visconti is the most subtle, consciously or unconsciously cloaking his radicalism in the ‘respectability’ of the period genre. I would argue that this radicalism was achieved through constant striving to tell his stories more vividly rather than by making use of any preconceived aesthetic programme. In this way, Visconti can be perceived as the transitional figure in European cinema between classicism and modernism.

In The Leopard, and his subsequent historical films, setting, architecture and the characters’ relationship to their environment are all-important. In The Leopard, with its constantly descriptive camera, the palaces and gardens that form the Prince’s world are also the physical embodiment of the history and traditions at stake. This is what the detractors who complain about Visconti’s ‘aestheticism’ fail to understand. His use of space and architecture is every bit as masterful as Antonioni’s, yet executed to achieve opposite results: Antonioni uses space and architecture to abstract his characters and stories from the very concrete reality of today, while Visconti uses space and architecture to make concrete his no longer existent and thus initially abstract reality. In this regard, the physicality of both The Leopard and its nightmare mirror image, Ludwig, is nothing short of monumental.

For all its sadness, The Leopard retains an atmosphere of sweeping romanticism. While it can’t be called optimistic, it is a story of dignified resignation in the face of circumstances, of a man attempting to make provision for changing times. Although a journey into alienation for its hero, many of its scenes bustle with lively community activity that bring to mind the colourful chaos of some of Renoir’s multi-character scenes, reminding us that it was through working with the great French director that Visconti decided to become a filmmaker. The Leopard also has a sun bronzed visual lushness that is heightened by Nino Rota’s fine score.

Ludwig also deals with an aristocrat isolated by changing times, in this case the King of Bavaria. But the melancholy of The Leopard has given way to neurosis; the romantic atmosphere has become that of a gothic horror film, with Helmut Berger’s tormented King hiding from the world like a vampire as he descends into escapism, illness and insanity. Ludwig is a film about a man avoiding coming to terms with change, put in a position of leadership for which he is hopelessly unfit and which he uses to hide from the world. Unlike The Leopard, Ludwig could not be called a likeable film. It is an icy, spare, claustrophobic record of decadence and degeneration. The bustle of palace life that animates The Leopard has turned frigid, sinister and parasitic, isolating the King at the centre of numerous intrigues. Each scene has the feeling of a solemn ceremony or, at times, an historical tableau. His view of events is detached, reflecting both the hero’s helplessness and his increasingly tenuous grip on reality.

The opening scene immediately sets the mood. The young King, on the eve of his coronation, is in his bedroom earnestly telling his priest that he intends to better himself and become a good king by investing all his time and energy in the arts and the creation of beauty. In the light of the wars and disasters to follow, this unchecked naïveté is already portending disaster. As they fall to their prayers, Visconti’s incessantly descriptive camera moves away from them, over the forbidding, almost completely dark room up to the crest of arms hanging above the bed. It is as if the darkness of the room and the oppressiveness of the decoration, heavy with history, is already swallowing up the young King’s good intentions. The coronation that follows is stiff, joyless and boring and Visconti spares us none of it. Ritual, the vehicle of life in The Leopard is invariably oppressive and funereal here, another web restraining Ludwig. In one powerful scene, we follow Ludwig into a room full of relatives, through a complicated process of bowing and hand kissing. In the middle of it all he becomes aware of a personal betrayal. Almost overwhelmed with fury and grief, he goes through the same formal procedure before leaving the room. The scene is not played as a stiff upper lip exercise in putting a good front on things. Rather it is bitterly farcical, the King’s body trembling with humiliation as he goes through the empty procedures. Ludwig is the story of a man trapped by destiny, history, and his own personal failings. And, in what is Visconti’s most extreme film, he is a man trapped by the walls that enclose him.

This is perfectly appropriate for a ruler whose favourite pastime was building what Laurence Schifano describes as “pseudo-classical, pseudo-baroque, pseudo-gothic, absurdly kitsch castles” in which he could pursue a lonely, fantasy existence. (2) It is a film of corridors, endless parades of corridors. In what is perhaps the most important scene, Ludwig’s beloved cousin Elizabeth (Romy Schneider) visits one of these castles. After shot after shot of her wandering through halls, up staircases, along corridors she finally arrives in a particularly imposing one and breaks down in hysterical, mocking laughter. She is laughing at the folly of Ludwig’s grandiose, economically disastrous architectural projects, but she is also laughing at him. The ridiculous, fantastical buildings he has constructed have become an extension of his character and his failings. It is hard to emphasise just how startling this scene is in the angst-ridden context of the rest of the film, the incredulity and spontaneity of her sudden emotion, so out of keeping with the code of behaviour common to other scenes, highlighting the painful absurdity of Ludwig’s predicament. Although Elizabeth is seen in an extreme long shot, dwarfed by her surroundings, her emotions neutralise the weight of space and she dominates the scene. She is the only character in the film able to do so. Given her place in the story, as Ludwig’s unrequited love, this scene on the one hand brilliantly materializes her rejection of him and his whole morbid fantasy world and, on the other, depicts her as a spirit of freedom that refuses to be trapped by it.

Ludwig, on the other hand, is ultimately crushed and destroyed by architecture. Having been deposed by the government as mentally unfit to govern, he is silently escorted by his captors in an interminable real time scene down an endless series of corridors to his bleak, sterile cell. It is at moments like this that Visconti’s leisurely pace turns almost sadistic, yet the relentless oppressiveness of corridor after corridor is genuinely chilling and, taken in the right spirit, possesses a hypnotic, mercilessly compacted power. It is the natural conclusion to Ludwig’s ever contracting world, a final imprisonment. All that is left is his mysterious death by drowning the first time he is let out for a walk in the grounds.

Ludwig was the third part of Visconti’s loose trilogy examining German history. The first was The Damned. This film opens and closes with shots of fire, more precisely shots of the furnace in the von Essenbeck family steel mills, and has the burning of the Reichstag as a pivotal event. This forceful denunciation of the political hellfire of Nazism sweeping through the lives of a powerful industrialist’s family (based on the Krupps) boldly embraces the kitsch side of Nazi popular culture and for this reason has frequently been dismissed as kitschy itself. It is in fact another example of Visconti’s submersion of himself and his audience in the spirit of the period he is recreating. This period takes its cue from one of Hitler’s sayings, quoted early on in the film: “Personal morals are dead. We are an elite society where everything is permissible.” What follows is a suitably infernal catalogue of horrors, including murder, rape, child abuse and incest, as the family falls into the clutches of neurotic grandson Helmut Berger who uses his Nazism to play out his monster size Oedipus complex. This is not a world order fading as in Visconti’s other films. It is a world order exploding. As usual, Visconti states his theme clearly from the outset through a stark cultural contrast. The film begins with the family coming together to celebrate the old patriarch’s birthday: his younger grandson plays the cello as the camera slowly pans across the entire household, family and servants alike in a picture of patriarchal old world stability that would not seem out of place in The Leopard. This is followed by Berger’s attempt at entertainment, a cabaret number with him dressed as Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel (1931) that so disgusts his grandfather that he gets up and leaves. During the subsequent dinner, news arrives of the Reichstag fire. The old man will be murdered that night.

In order to convey this rampant, paranoid instability visually, Visconti employs a very risky technique, that of frequent, rapid zooms, often moving in and out several times within one shot. The potential for this effect to become tiresome and shoddy looking is enormous and not helped by the lurid lighting scheme he employs, but Visconti pulls it off. If The Leopard and Ludwig display an uncommonly solid sense of place (representing history and tradition in The Leopard, imprisonment in Ludwig), The Damned and Death in Venice work through the destruction of that spatial solidity. (Can it be pure coincidence that these are the two films that bring his historical project into the turmoil of the 20th century?) The disorientating violence of the zooms in The Damned literally pulls the space out from around the characters, enveloping them in a panicky state of alienation from their surroundings which are changing too fast. This constant spatial disintegration reflects the insecurity of the often ruthless characters’ scrabble for power in the crucible of a new and very dangerous society. It is also the opposite extreme of poor Ludwig‘s fate. He had too close a relationship with his all too solid surroundings and ended up crushed by them.

If The Damned displays a violent assault on space, Visconti’s adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novella Death in Venice shows it slowly dissolving. Twenty years before Wong Kar-wai, Visconti had already penetrated the private space of a lonely, romantically obsessed individual and summoned up his emotional landscape through the expressive use of an urban environment and music. Like the furnace that sets the scene in The Damned, Death in Venice states its mood and pace in its opening image, an incredibly slow shot floating from the middle of a dusk-blue mist into the Venetian lagoon across which the boat bearing composer Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) to the city of his death passes. Accompanied by the music of Gustav Mahler, upon whom the character of the composer was based, this shot slowly brings the story into focus, just as at the end it again drifts out of focus. This lends a sense of instability to the melancholy, dreamlike interim. Visconti’s descriptive camera is allowed to dominate the film because there is simply nothing but description and observation in this film. As in The Damned, Visconti makes expert use of the zoom lens, but this time the zooms are for the most part slow and exploratory. The camera glides endlessly across the hotel and its guests, as well as the beaches with their numerous holidaymakers, often starting a shot as if it were from von Aschenbach’s point of view, only to finish with him in shot, creating a subtle sense of disorientation.

The only action in this film is what goes on within Aschenbach’s mind and it is by colouring the potentially neutral, at times almost documentary scenes that Visconti creates with the appropriate mood that he brings this film to life. Compared to the crushing solidity of Ludwig, space here is frequently subjective, a screen on which the dying hero projects his feelings. At the same time, this space remains mysteriously aloof from him, displaying all the inscrutability of a foreign country. This slightly threatening aspect of Venice is hinted at from the outset. As von Aschenbach is brought by gondola from the boat at the opening of the film, a dispute with the gondoleer leaves Aschenbach muttering worriedly to himself: “I don’t understand”. In the final stages of Death in Venice, when von Aschenbach discovers evidence of a cholera epidemic locals are trying to cover up for the sake of the tourist industry, the menacing aspect comes to the fore, the now corrupt beauty of the alleys and canals of Venice holding a lurking sense of death and danger far more powerful than even that evoked by Nicolas Roeg in Don’t Look Now (1973) with its more obviously grand Guignol trappings. Roeg’s rainswept, off-season Venice is immediately inhospitable, whereas Visconti, the master of decadence, seduces us with his painterly vision only to gradually reveal the danger at its heart. This parallels the process of Aschenbach’s hopeless love for a boy he has spotted on the beach and his ultimate death in pursuit of his ideal, Visconti once again using space to tell his story, this time with a delicacy that he would never surpass.

There have been many great period movies, many imaginative and personal films that approach history from every imaginable angle. Many of the best use the past to explore the present or project modern views and concerns. But just as some of Dreyer’s films could have been carved out of the very fabric of the Middle Ages, so it is difficult to believe that in films like The Leopard, Death in Venice, Ludwig and The Innocent, Visconti was not describing a present reality, a reality that had in fact already almost faded by the time Griffith was making his most important films. Visconti’s late historical films feel as if they are part of the artistic wealth of another century, while remaining completely modern and even ahead of their time in their treatment of film narrative. This mixture of formal sophistication with such a deep feeling for and personal engagement with history is what gives them their unique, slightly uncanny sense of being part of an art form far older than the cinema’s hundred and seven year life span, an art that had reached maturity before the dawn of the nineteenth century.


  1. “Dictionary of Films” by Georges Sadoul, University of California Press, 1972
  2. Luchino Visconti: the Flames of Passion, Laurence Schifano, Collins, London, 1990. A wonderful biography, which anyone interested in Visconti should seek out.


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