In Dracula (1897), Mina Harker declares that “The Count is a criminal and of criminal type.
Nordau and Lombroso would so classify him” ( Stoker 1996 : 342) (see stoker, bram ).
Her conclusion is based upon a description that Jonathan Harker had earlier made in his journal of the Count's physiognomical attributes.
The link signifies the Count's inherent degeneration as it marks out his innate criminality.
Mina's reference to Max Nordau, whose Degeneration was first published in 1892 (carrying a dedication to Lombroso), compounds the Count's degeneracy by aligning him with an amoral foppishness (the Count as dissolute aristocrat) that Nordau regarded as a troubling characteristic of the fin de siècle (see fin-de-siècle gothic ).
Theories of degeneracy thus shape Stoker's novel in particular, but they also provide a more general context that underpins the fin-de-siècle Gothic's engagement with disease, the body, race, and decadence.
In order to appreciate this it is important to consider how theories of degeneration elaborated a language of “otherness” that the Gothic could conceptually import within the form's ideological construction of the abnormal.
This was sustained partly by proclaiming the biological superiority of the Nordic “races,” but it was also the result of the emergence of anti-Semitism as a modern phenomenon.