Van Helsing as object of comic derision29 Aug 2006
The notion itself seems laughable. The proposition of a progression from ‘normality’ to ‘comedy’ to horror as one travels eastwards (from England in Stoker’s Dracula) seems… well, itself very foreign. Only not foreign in any substantiable kind of way, more in a “you lied about where you went when on holidays, didn’t you” scenario. His language is reflective firstly of his foreignness, but this foreignness is less modern, and more attuned to the powers of “old Europe” than England perhaps is. We see modernity through a distinctly British lense, whereby competing powers are completely marginalised and it is all reduced (seemingly) to a dichotomous struggle between heritage and contemporary being. It will be noted, also, that until the twelvth century or thereabouts (maybe later, even), England/Ireland/Scotland/Wales were considered as barbarous and undeveloped as the (Far East) and Muslim powers… modernity splits this, perhaps, into future potential versus present as-yet-undefeated currency of being (I love that phrase, Communist influences or not) in a sense of antiquity.
Also, one mustn’t make the mistake of confusing antiquity as lineage. MH’s first lecture drew attention to ‘the whirlpool of European races’ in Dracula’s third chapter (though I wasn’t at the lecture, it’s online in Powerpoint format) which, notably, refers only to continental European influences. There is preserved an irrevocable distinction between ‘Europe’ (which, it seems, is an old power without the same sense of embracing modernity — notably Germany and Russia are generally ignored in this text) and ‘England’ (even including America, by a character link).
Helsing is still ‘other’. His otherness is not that of cheap laughs, but of blended encounters with savage forces lurking further to the East. (IMO, of course :))