Tag Archives: Carmilla

The Vampire in Literature

12 Nov

Vampires, the aristocracy of the Undead, have a long and distinguished literary legacy. The vampire first appeared in literature in the 18th century, then really came into its own in the 19th century with the publication of several masterpieces of the genre which are read to this day. There was then another spike in interest at the end of the 20th century until the present day when, both on the screen and on the page, franchises like Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and Being Human show that the vampire has never been more popular. References to pale creatures that prey on the blood of the living first appeared in 18th century poetry, for example The Bride of Corinth (1797) by Goethe, a story about a young woman who returns from the grave to seek her betrothed. The first mention of vampires in English literature arguably appears in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Christabel (published in 1816), in which the eponymous heroine 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. These subtle initial appearances of the creatures of the night were soon succeeded by much more overt, and terrifying, references to vampirism.

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Irish Gothic: The Ghost Stories of J S Le Fanu

3 Oct

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) was a ghost story writer who left an impressive legacy – any author who M R James says “stands absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories” demands to be taken seriously. J S Le Fanu was born in Dublin, the grandson of the famous playwright, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and eventually became a journalist in his native city. After graduating at Trinity College Dublin (which was later to become the alma mater of that other master of the macabre, Bram Stoker), Le Fanu was called to the bar but never practised, for he saw a career in writing as his true calling. He had been fascinated by Irish folklore, with its tales of ghosts and hauntings, from an early age and he soon produced a vast body of novels and short stories which earned him an early comparison with Edgar Allan Poe.

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