The Blood Is the Life: Vampires in Literature

By Leonard G. Heldreth; Mary Pharr | Go to book overview

13
"OURSELVES EXPANDED":
THE VAMPIRE'S EVOLUTION
FROM BRAM STOKER TO KIM NEWMAN

Elizabeth Hardaway

In a splendid piece of literary vampirism, Kim Newman drained Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel Dracula of just enough vital fluids to bring to life two important works of late twentieth-century vampire fiction : Anno Dracula (1992) and The Bloody Red Baron (1995). An alternate-reality rendering of Dracula, Anno Dracula begins "halfway through Stoker's Chapter 21" (Anno Author's Note 404) and presents a world in which Professor Van Helsing and his brave young colleagues have been defeated and Dracula has become the Prince Consort of a widowed Queen Victoria. Victoria's suicide and Dracula's subsequent expulsion from England bring this novel to a close. In The Bloody Red Baron, Dracula, having "turned" the Kaiser, assumes "the twin positions of Chancellor and commander-in-chief of the Fatherland" (Baron 19) and creates a squadron of shape-shifting flying vampires (including Baron von Richthofen), who have been genetically engineered to literally suck the Allied forces out of the sky!

Although serious literary criticism of Stoker's Dracula did not emerge fully until the 1970s, the decades since have produced an amazing array of articles and books dedicated to analyzing that text, revealing perhaps that as humankind enters the millennium we are finally openly confronting the issues of gender, sexuality, power, and identity that lie below the surface of Stoker's work. It is not unexpected then that Newman's alternate-reality novels, rather than reflecting the external characterization and tone of Dracula, instead reflect that work's subtext. Indeed, the major areas of Dracula criticism—the Freudian/biographical approach, the Freudian/feminist exploration of gender/sex/power, and the more recent socio-political explications—are all brought to the surface of Anno Dracula (and, to some extent, The Bloody Red Baron). In order to explore this deep thematic inversion from Dracula subtext to Anno DraculalRed Baron text, it will be helpful to review recent critical

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