June 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm (Classical Vampire Literature, Vampires around the World) (, )

The next classic vampire story is Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, There is much similarity between this novella and Dracula like Gothic atmosphere and writing style, the isolated castle in distant foreign lands, in this case Styria in Austria. The innocent young heroine who suffers from a mysterious illness and who must be save from the evil fiend. Why there is even another poor innocent, who despite best efforts is lost to the fiend like Lucy. Enter the smart older professor/vampire hunter, who knows the secret and leads a band during the daylight to find the crypt and destroy the creature in the traditional way, with stake, decapitation, and burning.

The major difference is that the vampire is female.

Carmilla was part of a collection of Le Fanu’s short stories published In a Glass Darkly in 1872, over 20 years before Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is clear Bram Stoker was strongly influenced by it, although there is no concrete proof.

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu was born to a wealthy family in Ireland. He went to Temple University and studied for the bar, but turned to writing. Le Fanu’s best-known works include Uncle Silas (1864), a suspense story, and The House by the Churchyard (1863), a murder mystery. He is called by some the father of the modern ghost story, because his stories turned away from the Gothic’s emphasis on external sources of terror and toward the effects of terror, creating the psychological thriller. He was one of the most popular Victorian authors, but his popularity did not last much past his death.

He can’t be called a vampire author. Carmilla appears to be his only vampire novel, but it became one of the most influential.

Next week more about Carmilla.


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