"Karl Heinrich Ulrichs' Manor:
Homosexuality and Vampirism"
Michael Lombardi-Nash, Ph.D.
"Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, in the 1860's and 1870's, paved the way for the start of the Gay movement," Paul J. Nash described Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. That was a reason to study Ulrichs and his works. His vampire story fascinated me, and so did the prospect of a link between homosexuality and vampirism. I wanted to address the question of whether the connection was positive or negative.
First, a short biography of Ulrichs, and then follows the vampirism as it relates to homosexuality.
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was born on August 28, 1825, in uppermost northwest Germany. His father worked as a master builder, and his grandfather served as a senior Protestant minister. Ulrichs took his degrees with honors from the universities of Göttingen and Berlin. He filled an office as a lawyer for the Kingdom of Hanover and also had his hands in freelance writing.
In four letters, Ulrichs frankly disclosed his sexual orientation to his kinsfolk in 1862, the same year he coined the term 'Urning' to describe a male with a feminine soul (anima theory). This is recorded in Der Grosse Brockhaus, Germany's equivalent of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Between 1864 and 1879, Ulrichs presented the anima theory in twelve studies in the fields of sociology, anthropology, and law. In the 1860's he served two short terms in jail for his political views. On August 29, 1867, he became the first Gay advocate known to deliver a speech in defense of Uranism, his term for homosexuality. He spoke before the 500-member body of the Association of German Jurists at the Odeon Theater in Munich.
The North German Confederation had formed, and Ulrichs' writings and personal correspondence had been confiscated and banned by the Prussian military government, which entered Hanover in June 1866. The German states had enjoyed a liberal administration of laws concerning same-sex love under the Code Napoléon, established in 1804, and under Article 186 of the penal code of the Free State of Bavaria formulated by P. J. A. Feuerbach in 1813.
The tide changed on April 1, 1851, when Prussia issued Section 143, demanding unconditional punishment of so-called unnatural sexual practices. Because of the subsequent political pressure, Ulrichs left Hanover in 1867 to live in the Bavarian city of Würzburg, and later, in Stuttgart in Württemberg. However, he again found himself at the mercy of Section 143 when Bavaria united with the North German Confederation in the Second Empire -- spearheaded by Bismarck's Prussia in 1871.
In 1872 the antigay Section 143 became Paragraph 173, which was changed again into Paragraph 175. That's the law the Nazis used to send alleged homosexuals to the concentration camps. When Austria finally accepted Paragraph 175, Ulrichs emigrated in 1880. He finally settled in L'Aquila, Italy, reportedly living in abject poverty. He wrote many pieces of fiction, poetry, and translations from Greek and Latin during the 12 years he lived in L'Aquila. He died there on June 14, 1895.
Vampirism comes into the story when in 1885 Ulrichs authored an anthology titled Matrosengeschichten (sailor stories), in which "Manor" appeared. The source for my translation, discovered while massaging the bookshelves of the National Gay Archives in Hollywood, appeared in the spring, 1977, issue of Schwuchtel: Eine Zeitung der Schwulenbewegung (a newspaper of the Gay Movement). Its source was a 1914 reprint published by the Wegwald Company.
Manor, a tale filled with pathos, moves readers to remind themselves that love, even Uranian love (Ulrichs' word for Gay love), conquers all. A novella -- a short short-story -- about two youths, Manor tells of undying love. Nineteen-year-old sailor Manor saves Har, four years his junior, from drowning. A friendship develops, and Har's heart breaks when his friend leaves on a whaling voyage.
When the ship is returning it wrecks, and Har sees his friend drown. Manor visits Har at night to suck Har's blood, which the community objects to, but not, it seems, to the homosexuality. However, social disapproval, evident in the function of the stakes to drive into the vampire's body, manifests itself in the will to destroy the vampire, and, inadvertently, the love between the youths. In the moral, that in death anything is permissible, death appears as the great joiner: be what you want to be in death, but not in life.
The community's first attempt to pin down the vampire fails, and Manor returns. The love between Manor and Har could not die even in death. Manor returns as a vampire, not as a ghost. He appears in flesh and blood, not as an apparition, such as an incubus.
The significance of Ulrichs' association of homosexuality with vampirism appears as the subject of his book, written in 1869, titled Incubus: Urningsliebe und Blutgier (Uranian love and bloodthirstiness), in which he relates the criminal case of a homosexual man named von Zastrow who sexually abused, castrated, and murdered a boy by driving a stake up through his abdomen.
Ulrichs voiced the difficulty of writing about the case, but believed that Zastrow, whose deed he called a brutal act of violence, could not be convicted without having first proven Zastrow's sanity. Soundness of mind was all-important to Ulrichs, because he believed that insanity, and not sexual orientation, which he proved was inborn, led Zastrow to bloodthirstiness.
Ulrichs' own view, that the practice of Uranism in excess, such as by threat of force, by force or with children, agreed with the punishment imposed by law. And here, Ulrichs, one hundred years ago, presents to us a familiar problem in ethics. He proved beyond a doubt that the tendency to Uranism is certainly congenital, and he proved it by recording confessions of men whose orientation was directed to the male -- before they knew what sex meant.
One passage, from Memnon, Ulrichs' most praised book, goes, "As an eight-year-old schoolboy I [Ulrichs] sat near a comrade rather older than myself, and how happy I was when he touched me." Ulrichs repeats his theory in Manor, speaking of a boy during a time preceding puberty, "And the boy was never more pleased than when Manor embraced him so." Ulrichs rejected the belief that Urnings were child molesters, a myth most people at that time totally embraced.
Ulrichs tried to dispel not only this myth but many of the myths which stigmatized Urnings, even the myths promoted by Holy Roman Emperor Justinian, who, in the sixth century, claimed that "floods and earthquakes were caused by ... sodomites." Ulrichs' contemporaries believed in these myths, and Ulrichs broke the bonds of convention and conformity -- social, religious, and legal -- which still held most Germans.
Ulrichs holds to many of the vampire traditions in Manor. For example, Manor is a corpse that becomes reanimated and leaves its grave at night to suck the blood of a sleeping person. He looks cadaverous: pale with the pallor of death and icy cold to the touch. He appears to be well fed, and he is exceptionally strong. He is active only at night and rests in his own grave.
The community practices the traditional driving of the stake through his heart after the community becomes aware that vampire activity has broken out in its region, and the locals repair to the cemetery to examine the graves and look for a corpse that has not decomposed.
On the other hand, the story departs from the vampire tradition because the story tells of two youths who know and love each other in life and not of a male who attacks a female. Since Manor is taken from an Old Norse tale, Manor is also reanimated by Urda.
"The Norse peoples expressed the concept of fate as 'urthr,' which meant 'fate.' In the poem Heliand, 'wurd,' a cognate of 'urthr,' means the spirit of death. The Norse people believed in the embodiment of fate in the Norns, the chief of whom was herself called Urd (Urthr). The name still occurs in Faeroese lore as Norna," according to John A. MacCullock, editor of The Mythology of All Races. The failure of the first attempt to pin down the vampire because the stake has no head, such as the head of a nail, is also a departure from the tradition. That Manor sucks the boy's teat and not his neck, is also not traditional.
According to Douglas Hill, a contributor to Man, Myth and Magic edited by Richard Cavendish, "Anyone who is 'different' in some way has always been a convenient victim when the conforming majority is looking for enemies of the status quo." The love between Manor and Har, seen through the eyes of Ulrichs' contemporaries, would have been considered an abomination, no matter how deeply the protagonists might have loved each other. And this attitude, to Ulrichs, was symptomatic of an uninformed society in which the administration of the laws concerning same-sex love was abusive. Hill writes that "to some extent people's mistrust of their own sexuality has caused them to depict it as a demonic figure. The belief, that no innocence could escape tainting and the cruelties perpetrated in its name, reveals the scale of sexual repression that has existed."
It was Ulrichs' belief that scientists and legislators, some of whom he termed hydras and vipers at certain times, needed only to consult people of his nature and to look inside themselves to solve the riddle of the "man-manly" love. Through science they could see the illegality of all police investigations, which, Ulrichs reported, were leading to legalized extortion and to suicide and murder.
Ulrichs compared the treatment of Urnings by his contemporaries to the treatment of heretics, Jews, and witches in the preceding centuries because it was his vision to celebrate the nineteenth century as the one in which persecution of Uranism ceased to exist. If Ulrichs were alive today, he would have no trouble believing in the current war on homosexuality. Subsequently, he probably would have delighted in the fact that his works and his name have survived because, as true bastions of courage, they continue to inspire the brave to speak out in defense of Gay love. In the final analysis, I never could figure out whether the link between homosexuality and vampirism in Manor was positive or negative. Perhaps that's what's fascinating.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The most grateful appreciation to Paul J. Nash, whose constant support makes all things possible. Also, to Dorothy Brett for lending me her brilliant mind, and to Warren Seid for his invaluable time.
BIOGRAPHY: Michael A. Lombardi was born in Hawick, Scotland in 1947. He was raised in Dublin in an Italian colony, and he immigrated in 1959. He was advanced to candidacy for the Masters in German at UCLA in 1978. He has been living in Los Angeles since 1972 with Paul Nash, his lover of ten years. Both are studying for their doctorates at One Institute Graduate School of Homophile Studies. Lombardi has been translating Gay and Holocaust literature since 1977.
AUTHOR'S Update. I became acquainted with Dave Doyle through the Internet in 1999. On his own behalf, he was looking for a translation of Ulrichs' Manor. In this way, my interest in vampirism was rekindled. While sorting through old papers, this essay popped up and surprised even me! Since I wrote this piece (in 1982) I have become a U.S. citizen, and I have legally changed my last name to Lombardi-Nash, as a way to say "let's get married" to Paul.
To Manor by K. H. Ulrichs
Critique by Dave Doyle
Critique by Pam Keesey
Return to Sailor Stories
Return to Urania Manuscripts