The Blood Is the Life: Vampires in Literature

The Blood Is the Life: Vampires in Literature

The Blood Is the Life: Vampires in Literature

The Blood Is the Life: Vampires in Literature

Synopsis

Today the vampire is a major cultural icon and can be found in breakfast foods, comics, television, computer games, films, and books from academic studies to best-selling novels. While readers may be familiar with such figures as Dracula and Lestat, few are aware of the range of the vampire legacy that stretches from the early nineteenth century through the end of the twentieth. The essays in this volume use a humanistic viewpoint to explore the evolution and significance of the vampire in literature. Contributors examine besides Dracula characters such as Lord Ruthven, Carmilla Karnstein, Stephen King's Kurt Barlow, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain, and Anne Rice's recoded vampires. Other authors investigated include George R. R. Martin, Brian Stableford, Kim Newman, Colin Wilson, Poppy Z. Brite, and Tanith Lee."

Excerpt

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-

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