TEXT 1 Vampire literature
Vampire literature covers the spectrum of literary work concerned principally with the subject of vampires. The literary vampire first appeared in 18th century poetry, before becoming one of the stock figures of gothic fiction with the publication of Polidori's The Vampyre (1819), which was inspired by the life and legend of Lord Byron. Later influential works include the penny dreadful Varney the Vampire (1847); Sheridan Le Fanu's tale of a lesbian vampire, Carmilla (1872) and the masterpiece of the genre: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897).
In later years, vampire stories have diversified into areas of crime, fantasy, science fiction or even chick-lit. As well as the typical fanged revenants, newer representations include aliens and even plants with vampiric abilities. Others feed on energy rather than blood.
Vampire fiction is rooted in the 'vampire craze' of the 1720s and 1730s, which culminated in the somewhat bizarre official exhumations of suspected vampires Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole in Serbia under the Habsburg Monarchy. One of the first works of art to touch upon the subject is the short German poem The Vampire (1748) by Heinrich August Ossenfelder, where the theme already has strong erotic overtones: a man whose love is rejected by a respectable and pious maiden threatens to pay her a nightly visit, drink her blood by giving her the seductive kiss of the vampire and thus prove her that his teaching is better than her mother's Christianity. Furthermore, there have been a number of tales about a dead person returning from the grave to visit his/her beloved or spouse and bring them death in one way or another, the narrative poem Lenore (1773) by Gottfried August Bürger being a notable 18th century example. One of its lines Denn die Toten reiten schnell ("For the dead travel fast") was to be quoted in Bram Stoker's classic Dracula. A later German poem exploring the same subject with a prominent vampiric element was The Bride of Corinth (1797) by Goethe, a story about a young woman who returns from the grave to seek her betrothed:
From my grave to wander I am forced
Still to seek the God's long sever'd link,
Still to love the bridegroom I have lost,
And the lifeblood of his heart to drink.
The story is turned into an expression of the conflict between Heathendom and Christianity: the family of the dead girl are Christians, while the young man and his relatives are still pagans. It turns out that it was the girl's Christian mother who broke off her engagement and forced her to become a nun, eventually driving her to death. The motive behind the girl's return as a "spectre" is that "e'en Earth can never cool down love". Goethe had been inspired by the story of Philinnion by Phlegon of Tralles, a tale from classical Greece. However, in that tale, the youth is not the girl's betrothed, no religious conflict is present, no actual sucking of blood occurs, and the girl's return from the dead is said to be sanctioned by the gods of the Underworld. She relapses into death upon being exposed, and the issue is settled by burning her body outside of the city walls and making an apotropaic sacrifice to the deities involved.
The first mention of vampires in English literature appears in Robert Southey's monumental oriental epic poem Thalaba the Destroyer (1797), where the main character Thalaba's deceased beloved Oneiza turns into a vampire, although that occurrence is actually marginal to the story. It has been argued that Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Christabel (written between 1797 and 1801, but not published until 1816) has influenced the development of vampire fiction: the heroine Christabel is seduced by a female supernatural being called Geraldine who tricks her way into her residence and eventually tries to marry her after having assumed the appearance of an old beloved of hers. The story bears a remarkable resemblance to the overtly vampiric story of Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1872).
In a passage in his epic poem The Giaour (1813), Lord Byron alludes to the traditional folkloric conception of the vampire as a being damned to suck the blood and destroy the life of its nearest relations:
But first, on earth as vampire sent,
Thy corse shall from its tomb be rent:
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corse:
Thy victims ere they yet expire
Shall know the demon for their sire,
As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are withered on the stem.
Byron also composed an enigmatic fragmentary story concerning the mysterious fate of an aristocrat named Augustus Darvell whilst journeying in the Orient — as his contribution to the famous ghost story competition at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816, between him, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley and John William Polidori (who was Byron's personal physician). This story provided the basis for The Vampyre (1819) by Polidori. Byron's own wild life became the model for Polidori's undead protagonist Lord Ruthven. According to A. Asbjorn Jon 'the choice of name [for Polidori's Lord Ruthven] is presumably linked to Lady Caroline Lamb's earlier novel Glenarvon, where it was used for a rather ill disguised Byronesque character'.
An unauthorized sequel to Polidori's tale by Cyprien Bérard called Lord Ruthwen ou les Vampires (1820) was attributed to Charles Nodier. Nodier himself adapted "The Vampyre" into the first vampire stage melodrama, Le Vampire. Unlike Polidori's original story Nodier's play was set in Scotland. This in turn was adapted by the English melodramatist James Planché as The Vampire; or, the Bride of the Isles (1820) at the Lyceum (then called the English Opera House), also set in Scotland. Planché introduced the "vampire trap" as a way for the title fiend to appear in a dream at the beginning and then to vanish into the earth at his destruction. Nodier's play was also the basis of an opera called Der Vampyr by the German composer Heinrich Marschner who set the story in a more plausible Wallachia. Planché in turn translated the libretto of this opera into English in 1827 where it was performed at the Lyceum also. Alexandre Dumas, père later redramatized the story in a play also entitled Le Vampire (1851). Another theatrical vampire of this period was 'Sir Alan Raby' who is the lead character of The Vampire (1852), a play by Dion Boucicault. Boucicault himself played the lead role to great effect, though the play itself had mixed reviews. Queen Victoria, who saw the play, described it in her diary as "very trashy".
A milestone in vampire literature was Elizabeth Caroline Grey's The Skeleton Count, or The Vampire Mistress (1828), believed to be the first vampire story published by a woman. An important later example of 19th century Vampire fiction is the penny dreadful epic Varney the Vampire (1847) featuring Sir Francis Varney as the Vampire. In this story we have the first example of the standard trope in which the vampire comes through the window at night and attacks a maiden as she lies sleeping.
Heathcliff in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847), is suspected by his housekeeper of being a vampire, in the final chapter of that novel.
Fascinating erotic fixations are evident in Sheridan le Fanu's classic novella Carmilla (1872) which features a female vampire with lesbian inclinations who seduces the heroine Laura whilst draining her of her vital fluids. Le Fanu's story is set in the Duchy of Styria. Such central European locations became a standard feature of vampire fiction.
Another important example of the development of vampire fiction can be found in three seminal novels by Paul Féval: Le Chevalier Ténèbre (1860), La Vampire (1865) and La Ville Vampire (1874). Marie Nizet's Le Capitaine Vampire (1879) features a Russian officer, Boris Liatoukine, who is a vampire.
The most famous Serbian vampire was Sava Savanović, famous from a folklore-inspired novel by Milovan Glišić.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) has been the definitive description of the vampire in popular fiction for the last century. Its portrayal of vampirism as a disease (contagious demonic possession), with its undertones of sex, blood, and death, struck a chord in a Victorian Britain where tuberculosis and syphilis were common. A decade before in 1888, the press had sensationalized Jack the Ripper's sexualized murders of prostitutes during his reign of terror in east London.
The name Count Dracula was inspired by a real person, Vlad Ţepeş (Vlad the Impaler). Ţepeş was a notorious Wallachian (Romanian) prince of the 15th century, also known as Vlad III Dracula. Unlike the historical personage, however, Stoker located his Count Dracula in a castle near the Borgo Pass in Transylvania, and ascribed to that area the supernatural aura it retains to this day in the popular imagination.
Stoker likely drew inspiration from Irish myths of blood-sucking creatures. He was also influenced by Le Fanu's Carmilla. Le Fanu was Stoker's editor when Stoker was a theatre critic in Dublin, Ireland. Like Le Fanu, Stoker created compelling female vampire characters such as Lucy Westenra and the Brides of Dracula.
Stoker's vampire hunter and vampire expert Abraham Van Helsing was the archetype of all subsequent such characters in vampire literature.
Though Stoker's Count Dracula remained an iconic figure, especially in the new medium of cinema, 20th century vampire fiction went beyond traditional Gothic horror and explored new genres such as science fiction. An early example of this is Gustave Le Rouge's Le prisonnier de la planète Mars (1908) and its sequel La guerre des vampires (1909), in which a native race of bat-winged, blood-drinking humanoids is found on Mars.
Another influential example of vampire science fiction was I Am Legend by author Richard Matheson in (1954). The novel is set in a future Los Angeles overrun with undead cannibalistic/bloodsucking beings. The protagonist is the sole survivor of a pandemic of a bacterium that causes vampirism. He must fight to survive attacks from the hordes of nocturnal creatures, discover the secrets of their biology, and develop effective countermeasures. "I Am Legend" was one of the first works of fiction to offer a scientific explanation for vampirism; it changed the vampire genre forever. The novel was adapted into three movies: The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price in 1964, The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston in 1971, and I am Legend (film) starring Will Smith in 2007.
The latter part of the 20th century saw the rise of multi-volume vampire epics. The first of these was Gothic romance writer Marilyn Ross's Barnabas Collins series (1966–71) loosely based on the contemporary American TV series Dark Shadows. It also set the trend for seeing vampires as poetic tragic heroes rather than as the traditional embodiment of evil. This formula was followed in the popular Vampire Chronicles (1976–2003) series of novels by Anne Rice and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's massive Saint-Germain series (1978–). Ross, Rice and Yarbro set the trend for multi-volume vampire sagas which are now a stock feature of mass-market fiction (see below for list). Rice's work also saw the beginning of the convergence of traditional Gothic ideas with the modern Gothic subculture and a more explicit exploration of the transgressive sexualities which had always been implicit in vampire fiction.
The 1981 novel The Hunger (adapted as a film in 1983) continued the theme of transgressive sexuality and examined the biology of vampires, suggesting that their special abilities were the result of physical properties of their blood. The novel suggested that not all vampires were undead humans, but some were a separate species that had evolved alongside humans. This interpretation of vampires has since then been used in several science-fiction stories dealing with vampires, most famously the Blade movie series.
Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series (1992–) returns to Stoker's Count Dracula and gives the genre a somewhat post-modern spin.
Post-Colonial perspectives on the vampire legend are provided in Nalo Hopkinson's novel Brown Girl In The Ring (1998), which features the Soucouyant, a vampire of Caribbean folklore, and in Tananarive Due's My Soul to Keep (1995) and its sequel The Living Blood (2001).
Many books based on vampires are still being published, including several continuing series. Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles ended after many years, but many others have started up in the meantime. Paranormal romance, inspired by Rice but mostly dropping the transgressive sexuality of her characters in favour of more conventional sexual roles, is a remarkable contemporary publishing phenomenon. Romances with handsome vampires as the male lead include Lynsay Sands' Argeneau family series (2003–), Charlaine Harris The Southern Vampire Mysteries series (2001–), and Christine Feehan's Carpathian series (1999–). However, Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series has again shifted the genre boundaries from romance back toward the territory of erotica.
The occult detective sub-genre is represented by Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden fantasy series (2000–), and Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries (2001–).
In the field of juvenile and young adult literature, Darren Shan wrote a twelve-book series (The Saga of Darren Shan) about a boy who becomes a vampire's assistant, beginning with Cirque Du Freak (2000) and ending with Sons of Destiny (2006). A film adaptation has been made of the first three books called Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009). He is also currently writing a prequel to The Saga, a series of four books all about Larten Crepsley (one of the main characters) starting with Birth of a Killer (2010) and finishing with Brothers to the Death (2012). Ellen Schreiber created a young-adult series about Raven Madison and her vampire boyfriend Alexander Sterling, starting with Vampire Kisses (2005). In Scott Westerfeld's young-adult novel Peeps (2005), the protagonist carries a contagious parasite that causes vampire-like behavior. The Young Vampire Adventures by Star Donovan lets the reader learn, alongside the protagonist Gappy, about his growing abilities as a vampire, and the secret vampiric society living unobtrusively among normal people.
The king of vampires Count Dracula also continues to inspire novelists, for example Elizabeth Kostova in The Historian (2005).
Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist's critically-praised vampire story Låt Den Rätte Komma In (2004) about the relationship of a 12-year-old boy with a 200-year-old vampire child has now been translated into English as Let the Right One In (2007) and a film adaptation has been produced. The story takes place in Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm. This particular novel does not follow the modern romantic trend, and instead focuses on a human-vampire friendship. Crucially, it retains many of the vampire traits popularized by Dracula.
Traits of vampires in fiction
The traits of the literary vampire have evolved from the often repulsive figures of folklore. Fictional vampires can be romantic figures, often described as elegant and sexy (compare demons such as succubus and incubus). This is in stark contrast to the vampire of Eastern European folklore, which was a horrifying animated corpse. However as in folklore, the literary vampire is sustained by drinking blood. They do not need other food, water, or even oxygen. They are sometimes portrayed as being unable to eat human food at all, forcing them to either avoid public dining or mime chewing and eating to deceive their mortal victims. The fictional vampire, however, often has a pale appearance rather than the dark or ruddy skin of folkloric vampires and their skin is cool to the touch. As in folklore literary vampires can usually be warded off with garlic and symbols of Christian faith such as holy water, the crucifix, or a rosary.
According to literary scholar Nina Auerbach in Our Vampires Ourselves, the influence of the moon was seen as dominant in the earliest examples of vampire literature:
For at least fifty years after Planche's Vampire, the moon was the central ingredient of vampire iconography; vampire's solitary and repetitive lives consisted of incessant deaths and - when the moon shone down on them - quivering rebirths. Ruthven, Varney and Raby need marriage and blood to replenish their vitality but they turn for renewed life to the moon...a corpse quivering to life under the moon's rays is the central image of midcentury vampire literature; fangs, penetration, sucking and staking are all peripheral to its lunar obsession.
Bram Stoker's Dracula was hugely influential in its depiction of vampire traits, some of which are described by the novel's vampire expert Abraham Van Helsing. Dracula has the ability to change his shape at will, his featured forms in the novel being that of a wolf, bat, dust and fog. He can also crawl up and down the vertical external walls of his castle, in the manner of a lizard. One very famous trait Stoker added is the inability to be seen in mirrors, which is not found in traditional Eastern European folklore. Dracula also had protruding teeth, though was preceded in this by Varney the Vampire and Carmilla.
In the novel, the vampire hunter Van Helsing prescribes that a vampire be destroyed by a wooden stake (preferably made of white oak) through the heart, decapitation, drowning, or incineration. The vampire's head must be removed from its body, the mouth stuffed with garlic and holy water or relics, the body drawn and quartered, then burned and spread into the four winds, with the head buried on hallowed ground. The destruction of the vampire Lucy follows the three-part process enjoined by Van Helsing (staking, decapitation, and garlic in the mouth). Traditional vampire folklore, followed by Stoker in Dracula does not usually hold that sunlight is fatal to vampires, though they are nocturnal. It is also notable in the novel that Dracula can walk about in the daylight, in bright sunshine, though apparently in discomfort and without the ability to use most of his powers, like turning into mist or a bat. He is still strong and fast enough to struggle with and escape from most of his male pursuers, in a scene in the book. It is only with the 1922 film Nosferatu that daylight is depicted as deadly to vampires. Such scenes in vampire films, most especially the closing scene of the 1958 Dracula film in which Count Dracula is burnt by the sun was very influential on later vampire fiction. For instance Anne Rice's vampire Lestat and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Count Saint Germain both avoid the lethal effects of daylight by staying closeted indoors during the day.
A well-known set of special "powers" and weaknesses is commonly associated with vampires in contemporary fiction. There is a tendency, however, for authors to pick and choose the ones they like, or find more realistic, and have their characters ridicule the rest as absurd. For example, in the movie Blade, the vampire hunter Blade tells Karen Jenson what kills vampires (stakes, silver, and sunlight), and dismisses tactics seen in vampire movies (namely crosses and running water) as ineffective in killing vampires. Some vampires can fly. This power may be supernatural levitation, or it may be connected to the vampire's shape-shifting ability. Some traditions hold that a vampire cannot enter a house unless he or she is invited in. Generally, a vampire needs be invited in only once and can then come and go at will. Stephen King's novel Salem's Lot explored an unusual direction with this myth in having one of the protagonists revoke a vampire's invitation to a house; the vampire was forced to flee the building immediately.
Some tales maintain that vampires must return to a coffin or to their "native soil" before sunrise to take their rest safely. Others place native soil in their coffins, especially if they have relocated. Still other vampire stories such as Le Fanu's Carmilla maintain that vampires must return to their coffins, but sleep in several inches of blood as opposed to soil. Vampires are generally held to be unable to bear children, though the concept of a "half vampire" and similar creatures does exist in folklore and in some modern fiction. Some fictional vampires are fascinated with counting, an idea derived from folk stories about vampires being compelled to stop and count any spilled grain they find in their path. The most famous fictional counting vampire is likely Muppet character Count von Count on television's Sesame Street. Other examples include a fifth season episode of the X-Files titled Bad Blood, and the Discworld novel, Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett. Some modern fictional vampires are portrayed as having magical powers beyond those originally assigned by myth, typically also possessing the powers of a witch or seer. Such examples include Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Drusilla was a seer before she was a vampire, and carried those powers into her undeath), Olivia Nightshade from The Nightshade Chronicles.
TEXT 2 The Blood Is the Life: Vampires in Literature
edited by Leonard G. Heldreth and Mary Pharr
Bowling Green State University Popular Press
Vampires may lie hidden for centuries, but periodically they emerge from the darkness of the world's imagination into folklore, literature, and media. When they come forth, they take a variety of forms, among them the Roman lamia, the Gothic nosferatu, the Victorian aristocrat, or the contemporary heroic antagonist. The very phrase "heroic antagonist," like "living dead," is contradictory, an oxymoron implying someone both admirable and subversive. Thus, the vampire's contemporary image
envisions a being who is simultaneously terrifying and attractive—even envied, a being whose allure reaches to the deepest levels of the collective unconscious. A hundred years ago, readers shivered with delight at Dracula's demonic vitality, but they also anticipated his inevitable demise at the hands of ordinary mortals determined to restore social and spiritual order. In recent decades, however, readers have thrilled to vampires who are neither diabolical nor repulsive but chic and active in a universe where ambiguity prevails.
Hundreds of modem and contemporary authors have written stories and novels that reenvision vampire mythology, and numerous scholars have explored the value of the field and its development. Among the most prominent of these scholars are Margaret L. Carter (ed., Dracula: The Vampire and the Critics), Carol Margaret Davison (ed., Bram Stoker's Dracula: Sucking Through the Century), and Elizabeth Miller (ed., Dracula: The Shade and the Shadow), whose critical anthologies have secured the position of Stoker's novel as not just the central text in vampire fiction but as the major link between one mode of perception and another. Other critical collections have moved beyond single-text studies. In Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture (eds. Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger), a number of authors and scholars scrutinize diverse literary and cinematic texts for their metaphorical implications in the postmodern world. On the other hand, The Vampire: A Casebook (ed. Alan Dundes) does not concentrate on the vampire of fiction and film; instead, this collection examines the vampire as a folk tradition with profound anthropological and psychological ramifications for humanity. Individual analyses have also contributed to the awareness of a changing perception, particularly in the area of cul tural studies, where the work of Nina Auerbach (Our Vampires, Ourselves) and that of Ken Gelder (Reading the Vampire) stand out.
All these works—and more—have significantly impacted vampire criticism. The Blood Is the Life: Vampires in Literature also hopes to have an impact, particularly on readers who are interested in the vampire's literary history and variety. This collection is intended for a broad audience engaged in reading and thinking about those works that may be considered among the classics of the vampire canon, from its Romantic origins to its millennial manifestations. Rather than focusing on theory,
the contributors have chosen to view vampire literature from a humanist perspective, to balance intellectual criticism with specific detail in a way that will introduce a general audience to the significance of the genre. To that end, the collection essentially concentrates on thematic surveys and investigations of primary works. Making no claim to be all-inclusive, the essayists try to be both readable and thought-provoking as they trace the literary evolution of the vampire.
The decision to exclude film vampires from the discussion was difficult but deliberate. No one denies that vampire film is significant; it is, in fact, so significant as to merit several studies of its own: among them are David Pirie's The Vampire Cinema, Gregory A. Waller's The Living and the Undead, and James Craig Holte's Dracula in the Dark. Other texts, such as those of Auerbach and Gelder, reference both literature and film. Nonetheless, to have included the cinematic vampire in the discussion would have overwhelmed the structure of this particular collection,
with its wide survey of print texts. Contributors may make cinematic
observations in passing, but only in the core bibliography are key critical
works such as those listed above specifically included in this volume.
Easier than deciding to exclude film was choosing a humanist perspective for this collection. In The Blood Is the Life, readers will find a detailed discussion of the vampire mythology that has thrived in the last two centuries as well as a solid basis for further investigations of vampire literature. Readers who find this perspective valuable are encouraged to explore the ideological and anthropological studies of the vampire in the volumes already noted as well as in the many other scholarly works available.
Of course, the advent of the new millennium offers an opportunity for reflection and revaluation that is too provocative to ignore. A millennial turning is a natural watershed, and the legends present at the turning reflect a Janus-like culture looking both to the past and the future. The modern myth that now surrounds the ancient image of the vampire is at once subtle and extreme, its icons being figures of sensitivity rather than faith, of eternal moments rather than ephemeral lifetimes, and of noblesse oblige rather than democracy. Some roots for these modern vampiric myths are considered in Section I of this book, "The Vampire and the Literary Tradition." J. P. Telotte analyzes the parasitic perspective of Lord Ruthven, the Byronic aristocrat who was the first vampire in popular English fiction. Robert F. Geary then addresses the sociocultural transformation that led to the Victorian tale of the supernatural, as exemplified by "Carmilla." Ironically, as Western culture committed itself more and more to scientific materialism, the public grew more and more receptive to the irrational fears of speculative fiction. Yet the cultural shifts that created the deadly female vampire Carmilla also created Mina Harker, the "New Woman" of Dracula, whom Jean Lorrah sees as a notable example of the strength possible in a female vampire fighter. The section ends with an emphasis on the multicultural range of vampiric myth, as Zacharias P. Thundy surveys the variety of vampires within the culture of India.
No one since Bram Stoker has had a more compelling effect upon a wide audience than Anne Rice, and so Section II, "The Vampire and the Modem World," opens with two essays on the impact of her Vampire Chronicles. Martin J. Wood gives a cogent overview of the way Rice changed the codes encrypted in vampire fiction. Lloyd Worley then examines the Protestant theology of the earliest and most influential of
the Chronicles. Rice's vampires function as heroic antagonists, with a significance that goes beyond narrative: they radiate a sensitivity based on their uniqueness and their force, qualities coveted yet feared by a culture that reveres individual strength even as it proclaims general equality. With eternity perceived as the daily here-and-now, vampires—and, by corollary, humans—can claim identity and a share of the universe only through an assertion of will or energy that allows them to dominate
others and, through that domination, to distinguish themselves from the herd of victims. In fictive metaphor, the ability to carry out such domination constitutes the power—seductive or violent or both—of the vampire myth.
When vampires become the norm, however, they may lose distinction and power, a situation noted by Mary Pharr in her essay on the effects of mass appetite in Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, and Whitley Strieber's The Hunger. In contrast, Joe Sanders tracks Fred Saberhagen's resurrection of Dracula, a vampire who has not only retained power and position but has also changed his
image from unmitigated monster to unsentimental hero. Begun as something of a lark, Saberhagen's Dracula has grown into a figure whose renown is fit for a time that has abandoned historical and spiritual certainty. This ambiguity is further demonstrated by S. P. Somtow's Timmy Valentine, the boy vampire—described as both an angel and a demon— whose fragmented persona is analyzed by Leonard G. Heldreth in the closing essay of this section.
In the past, the vampire has been thought to form the dark opposite of the angel; today, the distinction between these two symbols of transcendence is far less evident. Often belittled as sentimental, the emblem of the angel suggests a universe wherein individual worth depends on organic interaction, where hovering but unseen entities encourage those who have lost their way to regain a sense of importance in the grand scheme of things. In seemingly sharp contrast, the universe embodied in
the emblem of the vampire is one of necessary predation, wherein individuals with secret abilities or arcane powers feed on and rise above the rest. Yet by rising, the vampire offers those below a glimpse of the possibilities beyond the ordinary. In a world hungry for mystery, both angel and vampire signify the human need for an external agent who exemplifies an alternative to diurnal reality and death.
For many people fascinated by angels and for most drawn to vampires, this transcendent mystery is an acknowledged fantasy rather than a stated faith. Among the ironies of contemporary Western culture is a dependence on admitted artifice, a tendency not to believe but rather to savor pretense itself as if it were a belief. Fantastic universes are constructed almost by committee mandate and are treated as though they had an independent existence. From these artifacts, fictional characters and situations spin off into still other worlds: witness the seemingly end-
less stream of paperbacks in the Star Trek and Star Wars series. Further, in this time that has coined the phrase "creative nonfiction," writers and readers are also eager for fictional reinterpretations of real-world history: mark the dissolution of whatever line once theoretically existed between fact and fiction in Tomás Eloy Martínez's Santa Evita. Such reinterpretation has always existed in literature, of course, but seldom have authors and audience alike so openly relished the permutations that a coalescence of fact and fiction can provide.
Thus, Section III, "The Vampire and Alternate History," looks at several examples of history reconstructed and the future re-projected through vampirism. Sharon A. Russell introduces the reader to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's vampire Saint-Germain, the epitome of romantic heroism amid the turmoil of history; then Sondra Ford Swift points to the roots of Saint-Germain's profound concern for humanity in the Rosicrucian background to Bulwer-Lytton's nineteenth-century novel Zanoni. In her study of George R. R. Martin's Fevre Dream and Brian Stableford's The Empire of Fear, Margaret L. Carter considers the prospect of vampire-human symbiosis, that prospect being perhaps the ultimate—and most controversial—revocation of the vision of the vampire as symbol of monstrosity and narcissism. Yet symbiosis may lead to synthesis, which has its own vanity. As Elizabeth Hardaway explains in her essay on the vampire-dominated England of Kim Newman's Anno Dracula, throngs of fin-de-siecle Victorians willingly turn vampire because they see vampires as gloriously expanded humans. But precisely which human characteristics have been amplified remains in question, ambiguities multiplying geometrically in the enlargement of Homo sapiens into Homo vampiris. Michael R. Collings examines such ambiguities in Colin Wilson's science-fiction classics The Mind Parasites and The Space Vampires. In Wilson's novels, alien vampires threaten to absorb all that is definably human; on overcoming this threat, however, men discover that contact with vampires has released humanity's own previously untapped potential. Thus, alternate histories raise the bar of human existence—and challenge readers to imagine whether they could endure the new height.
Amplification is part of the vampiric myth, but so, too, is sex: desire metamorphosed into demand, attraction into enchantment, need into power—and gender itself into polymorphic possibility. Section IV, "The Vampire and Gender/Sexuality," looks at some of the ways these metamorphoses play out in fiction. Carol A. Senf traces the development of the "Daughters of Lilith," the female vampires who stride through
folklore and literature as rebels and subversives. Bernadette Lynn Bosky continues this exploration of the insurgent nature of the myth with her survey of vampire erotica and pornography, wherein the issues implicit in sexual discourse become explicit. While some writers (e.g., Poppy Z. Brite) invoke such discourse through stories of compelling carnality, others use a more delicate sensuality, as noted in Lillian Marks Heldreth's analysis of the exquisite vampire variations in the work of Tanith Lee. Either way, the vampire remains a figure of intense desire—a figure of ecstasy but not necessarily of contentment.
Donald Pharr concludes these essays with an overview of Nancy A. Collins's Sonja Blue, who is defined first by her gender and then by her unique status as a vampire who—never having died—cannot be called undead. Gradually, Blue finds purpose in her existence; however, in spite of her power and purpose, she is fundamentally alone, unable to connect beyond the short term. Vampires are extraordinarily effective at connecting—by force or seduction—for the moment; but when it passes, those who achieve no symbiosis are left in isolation. Even with their potential immortality, vampires like Sonja Blue (and Suzy McKee Charnas's Edward Weyland) have a paradoxical relationship to time: they are beyond its grip but still trapped in a universe run by its precepts.
And yet, despite all ambiguities—or perhaps, because of them— vampires thrive. Anne Rice's David Talbot is right to pose his question in The Vampire Armand: "Dare I say, we, our species, vampires, have evolved?" While the contributors to The Blood Is the Life cannot divine the nature of the vampire in the next millennium, the evolution of the myth will undoubtedly continue, drawing from past and present
revenants. So this volume concludes with a core list of vampire fiction and criticism for further reading. Compiled by Sharon A. Russell, James Craig Holte, and Mary Pharr, this list is suggestive rather than exhaustive. Like the volume as a whole, it can provide only an introduction to a mythology as rich and complex as the crimson texture of blood itself. For the blood is the life that links human to human and human to vampire in a common myth that extends from the darkest past to the unforeseeable future.
TEXT 3 The Erotic Vampire: How Literature Has Changed the Image of Vampires
Roxanne Rhoads Oct 22, 2007
Vampire myths, legends and folklore have existed throughout the ages all over the world. They have appeared in some shape or form in almost every culture and society. Vampire myths are as old as human civilization
itself. The myths change from culture to culture and from geographical area to geographical area and the myths have evolved along with the times.
Originally vampires were hideous bloodsucking creatures that prowled the night and preyed on the weak, the poor - peasants and paupers. Today's image of the erotic vampire is based on the 19th Century European vampire. The modern vampire myth was born in literature such as Carmilla and Dracula and an obscure story about a seductive and smooth vampire named Lord Ruthven whose similarities to Lord Byron did not go unnoticed (this must be the origin of the rumors that Lord Byron was a vampire, rumors that still emerge today in modern short stories and novels).
The story was written by a relatively unknown author, John Polidori, and was born the same night and place as Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. He didn't see much fame from the story and many thought Byron himself wrote it. But that story seemed to be the start of the erotic vampire. Dracula soon followed and now over 100 years later still remains the most popular book ever written about vampires.
These vampires of 19th century fiction were romanticized; they were the sensual, dark and erotic creatures that that indulged their needs and desires without the constraints and boundaries of humanity such as moral, religious and societal rules and restraints. The sexually repressed Victorian era turned the vampire into the embodiment of dark desires and sensuality that represented all the pent up sexuality of the times. The vampire became something not only terrifying but also highly attractive and alluring.
In today's society the vampire is still the most popular of all paranormal creatures and definitely the most sensationalized and eroticized. Though our society is not as sexually repressed as it was in the days of
Dracula we are still bound by human laws and morality, while the vampire is bound by nothing except perhaps their own conscious if they retain one. The vampire has become even more popular in our youth and sex obsessed culture. How perfect, a creature that is immortal, retaining youth and beauty forever, forever able to indulge in dark desires and sexual urges.
I was seduced by the vampire myth when I was 11 years old and found a copy of Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire at a yard sale. After I read it I was hooked and read every other book in her vampire series plus anything and everything else I could find on vampires. By my teens I was deeply in love with vampire myth and legend and I remain so today.
Today my favorite authors include Laurell K Hamilton, who in my opinion has created the most sensual and sexy vampires to grace the pages of any books and Kim Harrison who has created different kinds of vampires in her series of books about The Hollows.
No other "monster" comes close to be as sexy and erotic as the vampire. While men usually write the vampire into being savage and monstrous, women love to be seduced by the eternal bad boy, the epitome of dangerous sex. Women love sexy vampires. Many of my own works contain vampires and other paranormal elements. My darker side emerges from time to time and the vampire is a reoccurring theme in many of my stories and poetry. I love to twist and spin vampire myths and legends into sexy, erotic tales.
TEXT 4 A Hero's Shadow: Vampires in Literature
Carolyn Lawrence Sep 16, 2008
Throughout the hero's journey, the shadow seems to be a constant companion; a force in which the hero can neither ignore nor abandon, yet in regards to the vampiric hero, the shadow is not only the monster he is, but the monster he is attempting to flee, i.e. himself. Victoria Lynn Schmidt clarifies the essence of the shadow as stating it is the dark side in which "he has to face his faults and fears around him" (Schmidt 186). However, with the vampire, the shadow is at once inside and outside of him; he is the monster which is capable of taking a life, yet it is the fear of being alone which propels the vampire to seek out companionship. The dichotomy is perplexing and unnerving to the vampire; yet, the vampire is simply a fictional character, placed into a very real, psychological world.
While most audiences will find the vampiric character to be one who is blood thirsty, lustful and dangerous, the truth about vampires is that they are misunderstood souls, haunting the night in search of the one thing that will fill them up: companionship. "But most of these individuals are troubled people who have been attracted by the cultural myths about the vampire: supernatural powers (because they feel powerless), overwhelming sexuality (because most of them have sexual issues and no true relationships), immortality (because they fear aging and death)" (Arthen). Vampires have deep psychological needs in which the act of drinking blood or absorbing another's energy fulfills within them. The vampire is his own shadow, particularly if he is conflicted such as Louis in Interview with a Vampire: "The Shadow can cause conflict for the hero...by being a force equal to or greater than the hero so he can put up roadblocks until the hero acknowledges him" (Schmidt 187). Louis was forced into a vampiric lifestyle, where he finds himself not only the hero, but the shadow which causes emotional turmoil. Louis's guilt over killing created dramatic conflict for the need he has to feast; he was psychologically and physiologically torn between the two extremes. It is this which generates both hero and shadow within the vampire.
Yet, in reality, a vampire is nothing more than a person who is an empath, and can be emotionally draining. While most cultures still believe in the myth of vampires, most accept that they simply do not exist, at least, not in the literary and film sense. However, vampires are very real; most people can attest to knowing one, maybe two, individuals that are too draining to be around. They are called psychic vampires, feasting on the "pranic energy (life force)" of others (Arthen). They are the embodiment of the vampire: night dwelling, photosensitive, and draining; though, they do not drink real blood. Though it does beg the question: if vampires are real, do they sense the hero and shadow within their own being; are they at odds within their own souls, as their literary counterparts? Is it a physiological or psychological need that they fulfill when they absorb another's energy? There may never be definitive answers to these questions, which may be why the vampiric myth continues on through generations.
Vampires in Literature