The Blood Is the Life: Vampires in Literature

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

17
VAMPIRE VARIATIONS:
TANITH LEE'S EVOLUTION OF THE GENRE

Lillian Marks Heldreth

During her career as a prolific author of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, Tanith Lee has explored the vampire tradition several times, interpreting it in all three genres. Lee's vampire novels include Sabella, or the Blood Stone (science fiction, 1980), The Blood of Roses (horror/ fantasy, 1990), Stained with Crimson (fantasy/horror, 1988), and the Scarabae novels (contemporary horror): Dark Dance (1992), Personal Darkness (1993), and Darkness, I (1994). Stained with Crimson (1988), a long Gothic-horror novella, relates in theme to the Scarabae series, but the parallels were not consciously made by the author (personal correspondence, August 1997). Notable short stories in the vampire mode include "Red as Blood" (1979), "Bite-Me-Not or, Fleur de Fur" (1984), and "The Beautiful Biting Machine" (1984). It should be noted that Lee herself does not consider The Blood of Roses to be a vampire novel, but rather a novel of sacrifice made to the vegetable world. That is certainly true, but the repeated theme of the drinking and spilling of blood makes it imperative that the blood-imagery of the novel be considered in this context.

Lee's sensual variations on the vampiric theme lend touches of the exotic and original to both plot and setting in her vampire novels. She uses a wealth of visual imagery to invoke a rich sense of atmosphere and place, simultaneously deepening the symbolism inherent in her settings.

In "Red as Blood," in which she portrays Snow White as a vampire, she characterizes the forest: "Into the core of the forest, even at noon, the sun never shone. Flowers propagated in the grass, but they were colourless. Above, the black-green roof hung down nets of thick green twilight through which albino butterflies and moths feverishly drizzled" (Forests 143). Typical of Lee's description, this passage contains several adjectives (colourless, black-green, thick green, albino), but also typically it is strengthened by a liberal use of verbs (shone, propagated, hung, drizzled), accompanied by the occasional adverb (fever

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