21L.310 | Fall 2018 | Undergraduate

Bestsellers: Out for the Count


[VS] Ryan, Alan, ed. Penguin Book of Vampire Stories. Penguin, 1989. ISBN: 9780140124453.

[D] Stoker, Bram. Dracula (Norton Critical Edition). Edited by Nina Auerbach and David Skal. W.W. Norton & Company, 1996. ISBN: 9780393970128.

Ses # Readings

No assigned readings


 Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula. Faber & Faber, 1992. ISBN: 9780571167920. Frayling Reading Guide.

Leatherdale, Clive. Dracula: The Novel and the Legend: A Study of Bram Stoker’s Gothic Masterpiece. Aquarian Press, 1985. ISBN: 9780850303834. Leatherdale Reading Guide.

Rondina, Christopher. Vampires of New England. On Cape Publications, 2007. ISBN: 9780978576646. Rondina Reading Guide.

McClelland, Bruce. Slayers and their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead. University of Michigan Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780472069231. McClelland Reading Guide.

Taylor, Aaron. “It Is the Eve of St. George’s Day.” Logismoi, 2009.

Calmet, Augustin. The Phantom World; or, The Philosophy of Spirits, Apparations, &c. &c. Edited by Henry Christmas. Project Gutenberg, 2008. 


Lord Byron. “Fragment of a Novel.” In [VS] pp. 1–6.

Tieck, Johann Ludwig. Wake Not the Dead. Dodo Press, 2008. ISBN: 9781406539295.


Polidori, John. “The Vampyre.” In [VS] pp. 7–24.


Rymer, James Malcom. Varney the Vampire (excerpt). In [VS] pp. 25–35. 

Rymer, James Malcom. Varney the Vampire (additional chapters IV, V, and XL). Project Gutenberg, 2005.

“The Mysterious Stranger.” In [VS] pp. 36–70.


Le Fanu, J. Sheridan. Carmilla. CreateSpace, 2008. Ch. 1–10. ISBN: 9781441436313.


Le Fanu, J. Sheridan. Carmilla. CreateSpace, 2008. Ch. 11–16. ISBN: 9781441436313.


[D] pp. 1–327.


[D] pp. 1–327 (continued).


“Preface” and “Contents” in [D].


No readings assigned.

12 No readings assigned.

Supplemental Readings

Topic Readings


Dracula Reading Guide

Outline of Freud’s basic ideas which will be useful when we come to the reception of Dracula.

The best overall account of Freud, sober and well informed, and dealing with every aspect of his life and theories is to be found on The Victorian Web.

Browning, John Edgar. Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The Critical Feast, An Annotated Reference of Early Reviews & Reactions, 1897–1913. Apocryphile Press, 2011. ISBN: 9781937002213.

The Vampire Trope: The Larger Picture

The fullest and most up-to-date account I know of the investigation of vampire phenomena in early eighteenth century Austro-Hungary, and how such ideas were diffused amongst the intelligentsia in the West. 

Psychoanalytical schools have been much interested in vampires; here is a summary of what the followers of Freud and Jung have made of the phenomenon. 

Article from the Scientific American.

Hallab, Mary. Vampire God: The Allure of the Undead in Western Culture. State University of New York Press, 2009. Hallab Reading Guide. ISBN: 9781438428604.

Auerbach, Nina. Our Vampires, Ourselves. University of Chicago Press, 1997. Auerbach Reading Guide. ISBN: 9780226032023.

Lord Byron

McGann, Jerome. “Byron, George Gordon Noel.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2015.

Extract from Lord Byron’s The Giaour


Literary Modernism: A Brief Guide

Popular Culture: Some Definitions

 Auerbach, Nina. Our Vampires, Ourselves. University of Chicago Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780226032023.

We are now in a position to assess the arguments of Nina Auerbach in Our Vampires, Ourselves.

Auerbach has been amongst the most influential scholars in this field during the past quarter of a century and is co-editor of the Norton Dracula which is the set text for this course. A lengthy extract from it is published in the appendix to the Norton edition of Dracula, but it is largely about vampire movies. I thought it better to have a look at the original from which it was taken. What to do with this is to ask “how much of this is true”? “Is this a reasonable assessment of the evidence?” (which, remember, you now also possess). The passages in quotation marks are Auerbach, the rest is me (but a fair paraphrase of what she says). Anything in editorial [square brackets] is also me. Obviously if you have time, you will want to consult Auerbach, and later Christopher Frayling’s books in their original form. Auerbach links the vampire trope with contemporary (i.e. late 20th-century) cultural and political developments, and thinks that it changed more or less in step with these. Auerbach was a rebellious as a kid and took to vampire and horror stories to avoid being a boring girl; and as she became increasingly aware politically, and saw—from a Democratic standpoint—whole administrations, Nixon, Reagan and Bush turn FDR’s dictum, “nothing to fear but fear itself” on its head and positively peddle fear as a tool of government, began to see that there might be parallels between this and the vampire fiction she loved, and here lay the germs of the present study.

Chapter 1: Giving Up the Ghost: Nineteenth Century Vampires

Here, she argues that before Dracula vampires were essentially companionable figures. They weren’t exotic and not all drank blood. Speaking of Byron’s “Fragment”, she says “Darvell is a compelling contemporary and glamorous traveling companion…Darvell is his friend’s sinister, superior sharer…Darvell’s menace lies not in sadistic persecution, but in his offer of ‘intimacy or friendship, according to the ideas of him who uses these words to express them’” (p. 13–14).

She lays great stress on the “remember your oath” pledge and interprets it as being on a basically ideal basis, involving companionship, allegiance, honour and reciprocity. There is no blood-sucking stuff in Byron’s version; this comes in with Polidori. Polidori’s bookish ingenue of a narrator, Aubrey, finds that Ruthven has killed the woman he loves and plans to drink the blood of his sister on her wedding night, but, says Auerbach, he never thinks of killing Ruthven because of the oath of friendship. The travel motif is new: in Slavonic folklore, the main source of vampire lore, vampires are mystically bound to their birthplace like the ghosts they resemble. Auerbach questions the popular point that all horror fiction is based on a fear of incest. [The reasoning in support of the latter would be something like: “what are the most scary sorts of stories? Why, horror stories. And what is the scariest thing in the real world? Incest. Therefore horror stories must be a metaphor for this widespread fear and aversion.] She says that being carried beyond the bounds of the family is the scary bit. She sees the phase of early vampire fiction, before Dracula, as basically homosocial and homoerotic: She says that vampires drink women’s blood to give them a sentimental bond with their menfolk (p. 18).

She refers for support to the friendship of the great English poets Wordsworth and Coleridge [in which as I recollect nobody devoured anybody’s sister]. She offers an account of the changes Planché made to Polidori’s tale in adapting it for the stage. Planché transferred the scene to Scotland, says Auerbach, because his company had Scottish costumes, [but this is to miss the point: Byron was a Scot, and Scotland had become long ere this the classic land of mystery and Romance. The opening scene in Planché’s adaptation is “Fingal’s Cave”, already famous through the poems of Ossian]. A playbill for the Theatre Royal production said:

This piece is founded on the various traditions concerning THE VAMPIRES, which assert that they are Spirits, deprived of all Hope of Futurity, by the Crimes committed in their Mortal State—but, that they are permitted to roam the Earth, in whatever Forms they please, with Supernatural Powers of Fascination—and, that they cannot be destroyed, so long as they sustain their dreadful Existence, by imbibing the BLOOD OF FEMALE VICTIMS, whom they are first compelled to marry. (quoted by Auerbach on p. 22)

Auerbach claims the Planché text introduces the notion that the moon has restorative and regenerative power for vampires, and continues, “For at least fifty years after Planche’s Vampire, the moon was the central ingredient of vampire iconography, vampires’ solitary and repetitive lives consisted of incessant deaths and—when the moon shone down on them—quivering rebirths” (p. 25).  She follows this with an account of moon imagery in various other texts, followed by a section entitled “Varney’s Moon” in which she discusses Varney the Vampire. In this text the fanged, long-nailed, corpse-like creature of later popular fantasy first appears. He is also the first who can turn his victims into vampires too. Mind you, what he’s ultimately after is not Flora Bannerworth’s blood or her soul, but the fortune concealed at Bannerworth Hall.

Auerbach says “…Varney is only one increasingly weary member of a predatory society, the paradigmatic citizen of a decade that named itself the ‘Hungry ’40s’” (p. 31). While Varney was being published, Karl Marx was in London writing Das Kapital which explicitly identified Capitalism as a predatory vampire. She continues: “His Capital (1867) sealed the vampire’s class descent from mobile aristocrat to exploitative employer: ‘Capital [says Marx] is dead labour which, vampire-like lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks’” (quoted on pp. 31–2). 

Then Auerbach moves on to present certain vampire characters, including Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, as metaphors for female homo-eroticism: Carmilla “presents herself as Laura’s only available source of intimacy. Everything male vampires seemed to promise, Carmilla performs: she arouses, she pervades, she offers a sharing self. This female vampire is licensed to realize the erotic, interpenetrative friendship male vampires aroused and denied” (pp. 38–9). Auerbach draws attention to the array of male “experts” who between them assemble the knowledge to destroy Carmilla. Auerbach continues: “In Andrea Weiss’s categorical but depressingly accurate diagnosis, ‘What has survived of Carmilla from Victorian literature and worked its way into twentieth-century cinema is its muted expression of lesbians, no longer sympathetically portrayed but now reworked into a male pornographic fantasy’” (quoted on p. 53).

Auerbach’s argument, briefly summarized, is that until Stoker came, the 19th-century vampire represented intimacy and friendship but this was dispelled by Dracula of whom it was truly said by one of his “brides”: “You yourself never loved; you never love!” (quoted on p. 60) and this became the motif of the emotionally reduced, and to that extent therefore trivialized, typical 20th-century vampire. [As a point of simple interest, if you are curious about the figure of the expert investigator of the occult like Le Fanu’s Dr. Martin Hesselius and Bram Stoker’s Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, you might like to check out the Wikipedia entry on “Occult Detective Fiction.” The line of occult sleuths would appear to terminate in Angel, although he is not human which might rather spoil the pattern.]

Chapter 2: Dracula: A Vampire of our Own

[At this point, the authorities interestingly disagree.] Dracula brings a new emphasis on animality and physical foulness, and ancient evil, says Auerbach, representing a new departure for the idea of the vampire. On the other hand, Christopher Frayling in his Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula (Faber and Faber, 1992) sees a neat line of development of the vampire idea through the 19th century from the beginnings of such fiction and culminating (so far as that century was concerned) in Dracula. Auerbach adopts a different interpretation seeing Dracula as radically new, and destructive of the older ideas of what vampires were like. Dracula can shape shift in a way earlier vampires couldn’t, she says, and he derives his vitality from his native earth rather than the moon (p. 86). The animalism of Dracula which Jonathan Harker finds repulsive, and his close affinity with creatures such as wolves and bats, must have echoed uncomfortably for thoughtful Victorians who knew their Darwin, and had hoped, with Tennyson that evolution would eventually envisage mankind “working out the beast, / And let the ape and tiger die” (p. 92) [this from In Memoriam].

Ruthven was notable for “the deadly hue of his face, which never gained a warmer tint” (Polidori, The Vampyre, in Penguin, p.7), but Dracula [after feeding] is hideously ruddy. Ruthven was dead; Dracula, in Stoker’s suggestive coinage, is undead. (p. 95)

[A look in the online version of The Oxford English Dictionary under “undead” might show some interesting things here]. She says it captures “not the dreadfulness of death, but the innate horror of vitality” (p. 95).  Earlier vampires depleted their victims; Dracula energises them. The heightened sensory awareness we see in later vampires is introduced here, and she quotes Lucy, and notes that Anne Rice revived the idea. “It is easy and obvious to condemn out of hand the sexist sexuality of her staking…” (p. 98), she says.

 Stoker, Bram. Dracula (Norton Critical Edition). Edited by Nina Auerbach and David Skal. W.W. Norton & Company, 1996. ISBN: 9780393970128.

This is a reading guide for the Norton Critical Edition of Dracula, as used in the class.

Chapter 4:

You’ll have noted Jonathan Harker’s coolly rational and analytic mind (even in circumstances of acute stress). It is only in this chapter that equivocal reasoning about the Count’s intentions finally crumbles in the face of the evidence, and his malign and duplicitous, indeed murderous, intent becomes unambiguously clear. The decisive moment is probably…?  

  • Some critics have invoked Freudian-inspired arguments to suggest that Harker is essentially a weak man, showing a subjectively “feminine” complicity and willingness to be seduced by the vampire women at Castle Dracula. Is there anything here that might undermine this view?  
  • Could we argue on the contrary that Harker does things in this chapter which might demonstrate physical courage of a high order?  It might be an idea to have some of this evidence handy for the purposes of argument (with, naturally, accurate page references).  
  • Harker views Dracula not only as a menace in himself, but as a threat to the future well-being of England, because if he manages to establish himself in London, then….?
  • Obviously, too, we’ll need to know why he is unable to destroy the Count when he discovers him asleep in his coffin, and how Harker effects his eventual escape from the castle.  

Chapter 5:

Here we go for the first time to the correspondence between Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra.  

  • Obviously, we’ll need to know who these people are and what they’re like.  Do you detect any difference in their attitudes and perhaps also in their epistolary style (the style is, after all, a reflection of the mind and personality behind it)?  
  • It might be an idea to have a look at the dates here.  What is Jonathan Harker doing at the time, for example?
  • I want you to have a think about narrative next, and changes in narrative rhythm in particular.  Do you detect any difference in the letters reproduced in this chapter compared with Jonathan’s long, flowing journal entries?
  • Maybe we could jot down a brief appraisal of Lucy’s character as it emerges in  these early letters about her courtship and numerous lovers from what she says and, above all, the way she says it?
  • Things are often compared and contrasted in this novel in quite clever ways: for example we have just seen the three vampire women in Castle Dracula; how many lovers has Lucy?
    • You’d better have a good grip on their names, too.

This chapter ends with the first of the transcripts from Dr. Seward’s phonograph diary.  Have a look at the date.  What does this tell us about its place in the chronological sequence of documents of which the novel is made up?  

  • Typically perhaps of Stoker’s unobtrusively deft characterisation, we can tell Seward is a man of learning because…?

In this chapter, also, we are introduced for the first time to quite an important figure in the novel, namely Quincey Morris.  What are the most obvious features of his character?

Chapter 6: 

The scene now moves to…well, where?  And for that matter, when?  (What is Harker doing when this chapter begins?)

Mina alludes, seemingly casually, to Constance de Beverley, in Sir Walter Scott’s famous poem Marmion.  Who is she?  (Googling this should take you about five minutes).  Bear in mind what happens to Constance, and what parallels she may offer to Mina and Lucy.

They are harangued by a local sailor called Swales.  In chapter V we had a think about the way Stoker varied the narrative rhythm.  Here, with Swales, we see him varying his style in a different kind of way… namely?  

  • Although a rough uneducated sailor, Swales is one of the most thoroughgoing rationalists and materialists in the novel.  If you were to summarise his ultimate position, it would be…?

Mina Murray quickly establishes herself as one of the most important centres of consciousness in the novel, so we’ll need to pay her particular heed.  Two things are bothering her at this point.  They are?  

Chapter 7:

Here we move away from the journal entries and letters that have hitherto born the main thrust of the narrative, and meet yet another kind of “source”:  which is…?

In one of the great set-piece “entries” in literature, Dracula bounds ashore in the form of a great black hound from a storm-lashed Russian ship steered by a dead man.  

In the captain of the Demeter’s log (yet another kind of “document” perhaps?), there is a teasing mixture of detail and vagueness; the effect of this being…?  

How do the local dogs react?  And Lucy?  And what happens to Swales?  

Chapter 8:

Here we see the Count’s first attacks on Lucy.  Probably it will be handy to be familiar with the details.  There’s something about Lucy’s mother which complicates things: it is?  

One of the pleasures of Dracula is the constant change in narrative voice and hence also in style.  The quiet intensity of Mina’s journal is counterpoised by two other documents here, in contrasting styles: they are?  

Jonathan is finally located and Mina goes out to Budapest to join him.  While all of this is going on, the lunatic Renfield escapes.  An interesting character, Renfield; could you summarize his characteristics?  Keep an eye on him, and be prepared to offer some ideas on what he contributes to the novel from a structural point of view (which is another way of saying “what would be lost if we removed him from the story”?).

Chapter 9:

Jonathan gives Mina his journal with certain instructions about reading it.  These are?

We might perhaps note in passing an interesting contrast between Sister Agatha’s and Dr. Seward’s attitudes towards the mentally ill. (You can never be sure with Stoker that he is not using one character’s attitudes and conduct to comment indirectly on another’s).  

Anxious about Lucy’s baffling condition, Seward writes to his old mentor Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula’s eventual main antagonist.  Clearly we’ll need to have a pretty firm grasp of what Van Helsing does and what he’s like.  At the outset, he seems the very embodiment of rational scientific enquiry.  Can we jot down anything in what he says that might usefully support this view?

Chapter 10:

Van Helsing examines Lucy and at once declares that “Young miss is bad, very bad. She wants blood, and blood she must have or die.” (p. 113): remember these words, they will turn out to be deeply, if unconsciously, ironic.

Can we find and jot down an exchange from this chapter that shows an awareness that Van Helsing is working well outside the range of modern medical and scientific practice?  

Chapter 11:

A stylistic point here: note the Pall Mall Gazette’s report (a famous contemporary newspaper in real life, edited by the great journalist W. T. Stead, and having many famous people write for it—which makes it all part of the fun), a chance for a bit of “vox pop” and for Stoker to show off his command of stage-Cockney (and add a little more variety of register) as he has the keeper at some length tell his tale.  Register is a very useful term in literary analysis: it is the word we use to describe different levels of language usage ranging form the highest formal registers, such as the language of the bible at one extreme, down to the very lowest forms in terms of prestige, the language  of the common people, with all its racy, vulgar, vivid demotic idioms—as here.  

There’s another Renfield episode, in which he attacks Seward with a knife then laps up the blood: maybe Renfield’s role in the novel is nearing its climax?

Chapter 12:

The next section centers on a gossipy, cheerful letter from Mina to Lucy, all about her happiness with Jonathan and the joys of setting up their own house in Exeter. 

  • Have a think about the way Stoker manages the chronology and different levels of knowledge amongst his protagonists.  Mina sends bubbly, unread, letters to Lucy, never guessing how near to a horrible death she is.  Useful words here might include “poignant/poignancy”; “pathos”, perhaps, and maybe a visit to your book version of Roget’s Thesaurus may suggest others? 
  • Note, too, the shift in the presentation of the Count in this section of the novel, from ghoulish but still basically human in form, to different kinds of animals (dogs, bats, even a kind of creepy mist);  all part of the ceaseless variety of approach that we see in this text.
  • It is here that Lucy Westenra suffers what appears to be death, but is merely the first stage of her transformation into a vampire.  How does Van Helsing react?

Chapter 13:

Mina has read and transcribed Jonathan Harker’s diary, and shows it to Van Helsing: with the result that…?

Van Helsing has a big speech here about scientific curiosities and marvels, and the need to keep an open mind and to follow where the evidence leads, no matter where it may take you, pp. 170–173.  This is really about scientific method and the blinkered nature of much contemporary scientific materialism.  Do we find his arguments convincing?    

We get the first accounts also of the depredations of “The Bloofer Lady”—a chilling sobriquet, apparently coined by Stoker, note the other headlines: indicating Stoker’s mastery of the popular newspaper style.

Chapter 14:

This is where Van Helsing has to release Lucy into “true death” and deliver her from her vampire form.  Since this is, to a modern sensibility, an utterly barbaric process, involving staking and decapitation, essentially mutilation of what most people would consider a simple corpse, and hence an act of desecration, Stoker has to proceed very carefully in his presentation of Van Helsing to ensure that he retains the reader’s understanding and sympathy.  How does he manage to do this?

Chapter 15:

Here Van Helsing has to persuade Arthur Holmwood that his beloved Lucy is now a monster whom he must help to destroy.  A ticklish task from a rhetorical point of view.  How does he manage this?  What does he appeal to?  What are his arguments?  

Chapter 16: 

Dracula is full of restless movement: we note the flickering changes in narrative standpoint and style; and also the ceaseless physical movement of the characters; you are never anywhere for very long: Whitby, London, Exeter; the cumulative effect upon the reader being…?

Here we get the staking and decapitation of the vampire Lucy. Some commentators have criticised this from a feminist point of view, talking of “rape”, “violation” and the evils of patriarchy which the Van Helsing circle have been seen by some to represent.  Is there anything about the way Stoker handles this scene that might help reconcile us to the necessity of what happens here and retain our sympathy for Van Helsing and his associates?

There is an important philosophical statement by Van Helsing here about the nature of immortality, and what it means for the vampire to live forever.  Can you find it?  This will help shed light on some later texts where a rather different view is taken of this matter.

Chapter 17:

Harker is now fully fit again and rejoins the pursuit of the Count.  There’s quite a bit of evidence in this chapter which might place a question mark over the views of those who regard him as an essentially “weak” character.  It might be useful to jot some of this down.  There’s some more vivid Cockney dialect here again.  Anybody in need of help with its meaning?  

Chapter 18:

Mina interviews Renfield: he’s highly articulate and suave at need, obviously an educated man; Renfield knows things about Seward that can only have come from Dracula (or gossip amongst the asylum staff).  He exhibits a complete composure and rational awareness of his situation that is, if anything, even more creepy than his mania.  Judging by his use of law Latin, he’s another lawyer.  He shows complete awareness of his own condition, and the mis-application of scripture—“the blood is the life”—which underpins it. 

  • Stoker uses Seward to comment on the vein of irrationality which seems to lie behind the façade of reason and sanity, not just in Renfield who is an extreme example, but maybe in everybody: at various points Harker doubts his own sanity and several people doubt Van Helsing’s.  Might be useful to have some details of this?  Is it possible to defend the view that the novel is based on a series of paradoxes: that good and evil are intimately co-mixed; that rationality and irrationality likewise are symbiotic, such that Renfield is both mad and sane and differs from other people merely in degree?

Van Helsing wants to spare Mina the trauma of the hunt, but this turns out to be a serious miscalculation.  Make sure you know why this is.

Note the important passage on p. 209 where Van Helsing summarizes the powers and capabilities of the vampire (they are dauntingly great).  If they fail, then all humanity will become vampiric.  The vampire’s limitations are likewise sketched out at the bottom of p. 211.

There’s an important passage on pp. 212–3 about the antiquity of the Dracula family and the intertwined nature of good and evil.  Can you summarise this, briefly, in your own words?

Chapters 19/20:

The narrative here is moved on swiftly: make sure you are familiar with the salient points.

Contexts section, pp. 331–360: 

This gives a number of sources for the novel.

Emily Gerard’s essay “Transylvanian Superstitions” published in The Nineteenth Century July 1885, pp. 128–44.  Gerard had actually lived for a couple of years in Transylvania, and regarded the place as the HQ of superstition in Europe, revealing that the local Walpurgisnacht was indeed St. George’s Day, the 23rd April.  

  • There are various bits of interesting vampire lore here which need not concern us in detail, except to note that this was one of the several sources Stoker consulted while developing the novel (this helps, remember, to counteract the charge more than once leveled against Dracula—although not within the last fifteen years or so—that it was a mere “pot-boiler”).  Gerard notes that “There are two sorts of vampires—living and dead.  The living vampire is in general the illegitimate offspring of two illegitimate persons, but even a flawless pedigree will not ensure anyone against the intrusion of a vampire into his family vault, since every person killed by a nosferatu becomes likewise a vampire after death, and will continue to suck the blood of other innocent people till the spirit has been exorcised, either by opening the grave of the person suspected and driving a stake through the corpse, or firing a pistol shot into the coffin.  In very obstinate cases it is further recommended to cut off the head and replace it in the coffin with the mouth filled with garlic, or to extract the heart and burn it, strewing the ashes over the grave.”  p. 334.
  • We will meet some of these practices again in 19th-century New England.

Then comes an extract from Varney the Vampire, pp. 335–338, but we’ve already dealt with Varney elsewhere.

Then there’s an essay by Christopher Frayling, “Bram Stoker’s Working Papers for Dracula”, pp. 339–350, from his book Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula (London, 1992).

  • This is a detailed talk-through of the earlier drafts of the novel showing how Stoker changed numerous things as he worked.  The earliest notes date from 1890 (Dracula was published in 1897, so this indicates several years of prior study, planning and drafting.  Normally a novel would be “in the press” for about six months, so the finished MS will have gone to the publisher in late 1896 or maybe early 1897.) Frayling stresses, interestingly, how many conventions of vampire lore Stoker established/invented. There’s a fascinating list of ‘characteristics of Count Wampyr’ which give the vampire’s strengths and weaknesses with great particularity, pp. 343–4.  Some new ‘rules’ for vampires are invented, such as you cannot photograph them, all you see is a corpse or a skeleton; some ancient and folkloric; some traditional rules are ignored: Dracula is not harmed by daylight and can go about by day although he is at his most powerful by night.  It emerges that Stoker got his local place names from Charles Boner’s Transylvania.  
  • “…we know that he wanted the events to seem ’exactly contemporary’”, p. 350.
  • These notes give a good idea of the process of thoughtful revision and reconstruction by which Stoker evolved the final version of the story.

Then there’s a reprint of the dropped opening section of the novel (watch out, though, some scholars dispute this, arguing that it’s a separate creation) later published as a short story, “Dracula’s Guest”, pp. 350–360, detailing a drive out from Munich with a very superstitious German coachman, wolves, superstitions, the undead, curses, and so on.  Our traveler sends away the spooked coachman, who seems capable of little except crossing himself and wailing ‘Walpurgis Nacht!’, with the words that Englishmen are not troubled by such things, and walks on alone to the haunted, deserted village (abandoned by the survivors long ago, for some place where the living were living and the dead were dead).  Climaxes with an encounter with a vampire countess in a graveyard and attack by a giant wolf.

Then comes a section of contemporary reviews, pp. 363–367.  Where nowadays we prize the novel for its mythic power and the subtlety of its subtexts, contemporary reviewers uniformly treated it as a harmless romp, although they saw at once that it stood in the main tradition of Anglo-American Gothic fiction: The Mysteries of Udolpho, Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, and “The Fall of the House of Usher”. 

  • The Daily Mail said “the eerie chapters are written and strung together with very considerable art and cunning, and also with unmistakable literary power.” p. 364.  Says it’s un-putdownable and very imaginative. 
  • The Athenaeum sees it as an example of the recent revival of interest in the supernatural and the occult which it traces to a reaction against positivism [i.e. as a reaction against the prevailing 19th century scientific spirit].  They—rather oddly we should nowadays perhaps think—found it too explicit and therefore lacking in mystery, and the human characters lacking in individuality, particularly Van Helsing. 
  • The Spectator saw Stoker as trying to outdo Wilkie Collins and Sheridan Le Fanu, declaring that the sentiment was “mawkish” although the invention was good.  Interestingly, the Spectator disliked the modern stuff, dictaphones, telegraphs, Winchester rifles and things, saying that they sat ill with the mediaeval ambience of the rest [do you agree?], and Stoker should have set the tale at an earlier period. 
  • The Bookman read it with “rapt attention” and said it was the best mystery writing since Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, saying “It is something of a triumph for the writer that neither the improbability, nor the unnecessary number of hideous incidents recounted of the man-vampire, are long foremost on the reader’s mind, but that the interest of the danger, of the complications, of the pursuit of the villain, of human skill and courage pitted against inhuman wrong and superhuman strength, rises always to the top.” p. 366.  It emerges that Dracula appeared first as a newspaper serial in the USA, before being published in cased form in 1899. 
  • The San Francisco Chronicle perhaps comes closest to modern judgments when it says “Nothing in fiction is more powerful than the scene at the killing of the vampire in Lucy’s tomb… The story is told in such a realistic way that one actually accepts its wildest flights of fancy as real facts.  It is a superb tour de force…” p.367.  The Chronicle therefore picked up the point of Stoker’s determinedly setting the English sections of the book—by contrast with the wild diablerie of the Transylvanian stretches—in a tangibly “real” and modern world.

It’s important to remember that reviewing is not a very lofty pastime: it tends to be something writers do to earn a little ready cash and help keep the wolf from the door; it used to be anonymous (so you could say just about anything you liked, without bad judgments coming back later to haunt you) and poorly paid.  So here you had a cadre of people working against the clock (you’ve always got to get your copy in for the deadline, and seldom have enough time to do a proper job), and passing judgment on books they have probably only partially read, and rather carelessly at that.  (I remember about ten years ago seeing a panel of very distinguished critics discussing one of the short-listed titles for the Booker prize, and it was shockingly obvious from the numerous basic factual errors they made that none of them had done more than glance at the novel concerned).

Frayling, Christopher. Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula. Faber & Faber, 1992. ISBN: 9780571167920.

Introduction: ‘Lord Byron to Count Dracula’

This is Frayling’s introductory essay: the rest of the volume consists of extracts from other sources, essays, stories, etc, like a kind of anthology. This section occupies pp. 3–84.

The argument is as follows:

One of the central features of the gothic novel is a new sense of the significance of dreams, especially nightmares as we see in Horace Walpole and The Castle of Otranto, then the painter Fuseli, and novelist Ann Radcliffe who both used to eat quantities of indigestible stuff before retiring to trigger the desired experiences. Drugs and stimulants were common in this group of writers and artists: the poet Southey resorted to nitrous oxide (laughing gas) administered by scientist Humphrey Davy; famous additional gothic dreamers and writers are Charles Robert Maturin of Melmoth the Wanderer fame and Matthew Lewis, responsible for The Monk (p. 3). Both Byron and Shelley took opium. Frayling states that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was triggered by a horrible nightmare Stoker had in 1890 (p. 4).

Frayling then moves on to a description of the symbolic attributes of blood in various cultures and various periods, then passes on to the scandalous high-society love affair of Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb. The French had fun with it: Cyprien Bérard’s two volume Lord Ruthwen [sic] ou les Vampires (Paris 1820) described ‘ce Don Juan vampirique’ or as one critic put it ‘ce Lovelace des tombeaux’ (quoted on p.9).

Frayling quotes Mary Shelley’s famous account of the story-writing competition in Switzerland while Byron’s party of writers and poets were confined to their villa by poor weather, published in the third edition of Frankenstein in 1831, which reveals that ghost stories translated out of German and French were read aloud to while away a sultry, rainy evening, leading to Byron’s proposal that they each write a ghost story (p. 11). Frayling says this account is ‘almost completely fictitious’ and written fifteen years after the event, and that Polidori’s diary is the only one contemporary with the events. Mind you, Frayling does argue his case, and if one needed a detailed account of these transactions this would be a good place to come (pp. 13–18). Polidori had an interest in the ‘occult’. He was an expert in somnambulism and animal magnetism, having published a dissertation on these subjects the previous year. Evidently Mary Shelley’s denials that her husband had any part in the creation of Frankenstein are inaccurate: Shelley was involved in detail and throughout (p. 17). The bottom line is that Mary Shelley’s account has made Frankenstein and The Vampyre seem like late products of the Gothic novel; ‘in fact, that “wet, ungenial summer” sounded the death knell of the Gothic just as surely as Jane Austen’s more famous satire in Northanger Abbey’ (p. 16).

Polidori…is nearer to the clinical horror tales of the late nineteenth century than to the overripe terrors of Mrs. Radcliffe and others…Polidori’s strange fusion of clinical realism with weird incidents… (p. 17)

There are various literary precedents, which Frayling lists, but the main ones are the line of late eighteenth century German vampire stories developed by Goethe and Tieck and other writers. Frayling argues, however, that the ‘English group who were involved in that “wet, ungenial summer” succeeded in fusing the various elements of vampirism into a coherent literary genre…for the first time’ (p. 18), and that Polidori was the first to exploit the theme in a systematic way. It is clear from what Frayling quotes that the continental stuff could have given English-speakers most of the details if they had had access to it. Translations appeared in the London periodical press in the 1730s, and vampirism was discussed by various worthies of the Enlightenment, such as Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau (p. 23). So the existence and characteristic behaviour of vampires would have been available to many educated English speakers by the 1740s at the latest. There were always doubts about the accounts, rationalist, for the main part, which asked, inter alia, ‘Why is this demon so partial to base-born plebeians? Why is it always peasants, carters, shoemakers and innkeepers? Why has the demon never been known to assume the form of a man of quality, a scholar, a philosopher, a theologian, a landowner or a bishop? I will tell you why. It is because men of education and men of quality are not so easily deceived as idiots and men of low birth and therefore do not so easily allow themselves to be fooled by appearances’ (quoted on p. 30).

Voltaire added in the supplement to his Dictionnaire Philosophique: ‘What! Vampires in our Eighteenth Century? Yes…in Poland, Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, Austria and Lorraine—there was no talk of vampires in London, or even Paris. I admit that in these two cities there were speculators, tax officials and businessmen who sucked the blood of the people in broad daylight, but they were not dead (although they were corrupted enough). These true bloodsuckers did not live in cemeteries: they preferred beautiful places…Kings are not, properly speaking, vampires. The true vampires are the churchmen who eat at the expense of both the king and the people’ (quoted on pp. 30–31).

Rousseau seems to think that vampires are largely created by the fervid imaginations of an ignorant and parasitic clergy; next that vampires are ‘an extremely potent symbol for characterizing even the ordinary ties of dependence that bind individuals together in civilized society’ (p. 33).

Robert Southey transcribed both the Arnold Paole story and Tournefort’s adventures on the island of Mykonos, [two classic sources of vampire lore] in the notes to his “rhythmical romance” Thalaba (1799) [a further obvious source, hence, of vampire lore in English]; the introduction to Polidori’s Vampyre refers to the same sources. (p. 37)

By 1826 Frankenstein and The Vampyre were playing in English theatres as a double bill and in 1846 Knight’s Penny Magazine ’lashed out at the “cheap weekly sheets” which were “foisting trashy tales and tired vampire stories on ’the working people, and especially the young’”’ (p. 38). In the mid-Victorian period the vampire was a commonplace symbol for any exploitative relationship: temperance people used it about publicans and innkeepers, the pro-cremation lobby as an argument invoking the fear of premature burial (p. 38).

Then came Varney the Vampire:

The plot of Varney [which Frayling claims was lifted straight out of Polidori and derivatives] contains three main ingredients: Sir Francis Varney’s attempts to seduce the innocent heroine; the local villagers’ realization that Varney is a vampire and organization of a mass counter-attack; and a wedding scene [actually several], where Sir Francis is denounced in the nick of time and chased out of the area…Eventually, in a scene which was lifted from the melodramitization of Frankenstein, Sir Francis Varney, exhausted by his unsuccessful endeavours and disillusioned by an unsympathetic world, leaps into Mount Vesuvius, never to be heard of again. (p. 39)

If Rymer makes full use of Polidori, he also invents new variations on the theme, variations which will be reworked by later writers including Bram Stoker. Varney includes an original sub-plot concerning a Hungarian vampire count (the first in English literature); comic relief (straight out of the music hall) in the irrepressible double act of Admiral Bell and Able-Seaman Jack Pringle [straight out of Smollett]; and a whole series of scenes set in and around country churchyards, crypts, charnel houses and undertakers’ parlours, the atmospheric detail of which was evidently based on close observation of early Victorian funerary customs. (p. 39)

Yet, for all its absurdity, Varney did introduce new stuff which was picked up by Stoker, including:

  1. The “initiation” of the heroine, through contact with the vampire.
  2. The suggestion of sexual attraction, followed by revulsion, followed in turn by attraction again, between female victim and tormenting vampire.
  3. The incongruity of a central European folk-myth in an English rural setting.
  4. The respect of the hunter for the hunted.
  5. The…methodical, scientific approach to dealing with the vampire. This foreshadows Bram Stoker’s treatment of the vampire-hunter Professor van Helsing…This aspect of both Varney and Dracula may perhaps be taken to represent the conflict between Victorian scientific positivism…and the forces of the unknown.
  6. Some more specific motifs, including a vigil at the witching hour by the tomb of a suspected vampire…the vampire’s transmutation into a wolf, the arrival of a deserted ship and the chase to the vampire’s resting-place.

(pp. 40–41)

‘Leonard Wolf [editor of Dracula] has said, “There is nothing in Varney, nothing at all, that is capable of sounding anything like the chords of dark understanding that reverberate in page after page of Stoker’s Dracula”’ (quoted on p. 41).

Frayling publishes ‘A Vampire Mosaic Vampires in folklore, prose and poetry, 1687–1913’; this is too long for transcription here but it occupies pp. 42–63 and contains several things of interest. Frayling notes that his list includes only substantive references, i.e. people who go about biting others and drinking their blood; unlike James Twitchell who considered psychological vampirism, i.e. those who mysteriously drain others vitality and will to live, a numerous tribe, and hence saw vampires everywhere. In Swinburne’s Chastelard Mary Queen of Scots appears as a vampire, with Darnley among her victims. ‘Swinburne was reading the words of de Sade at the time, although this acted only as a catalyst. In Juliette, and especially Justine, de Sade had explored the relationship between blood and sexuality (adding blood to his already extensive list of aphrodisiacs and stimulants for men)’ (p. 53). ‘In essence, there were four archetypal vampires in nineteenth-century fiction: the Satanic Lord (Polidori and derivatives), the Fatal Woman (Tieck, Hoffmann, Gautier, Baudelaire, Swinburne and Le Fanu), the Unseen Force (O’Brien, de Maupassant) and the Folkloric Vampire (Merimee, Gogol, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Linton and Burton). One might add also the “camp” vampire…’ (p. 62). [With the exception of the latter, Dracula pulls all these strands together.]

…the Polidori Vampyre spawned a fully-fledged literary genre, with well-defined rules and a series of plot formulae which could be manipulated to suit popular taste at any time between 1820 and 1850; the location might change (Ruthven was reincarnated in Greece, Italy, the Balkans, rural England and Scotland—he appeared north of the border, not because of any Byronic associations but because the English Opera House was stuck with an extensive stock of unworn kilts) but the story remained more or less the same. The Ruthven phenomenon (perhaps the first literary formula in history to originate with high culture and, eventually, to feed into workingclass pulp literature); this illustrates well what Tsvetan Todorov defines as a genre (in his Introduction à la Littérature Fantastique, 1970): ’texts which do not represent a significant shift in ideas which are held at a given time about a type of literature’ and ‘which do not normally qualify for inclusion in the history of literature, and thus pass into another category—known as “popular” or “mass” literature seem peculiarly appropriate as examples for genre or formula analysis. (pp. 63–64)

Stoker’s knowledge of the Irish civil service leads to some interesting speculations including ’the distance between Dublin Castle and Castle Dracula—at a symbolic level—was not quite as great as the maps show. Certainly, both the ancestral home of the Karnsteins and Dracula’s establishment in the land beyond the forest represent superb metaphors for the gingerbread court of the Viceroy in the late nineteenth century, tales of bureaucracy and imagination, perhaps’ (pp. 65–66). [There’s more here, and a number of other writers have explored this idea, namely that an Irishman, used to being treated as a subhuman primitive by the English establishment, might well have conceived at one level of the Carpathian count’s inroads into comfortable, genteel, damnably complacent and condescending England with distant satisfaction, and to the objection that the English win in the end…well, they do, don’t they?]

Stoker was a regular visitor to the soirees of Sir William and Lady Francesca Wilde; all three were interested in collecting Irish folktales, some of which have vampiric figures: ‘If vampires like to rise from the dead at twilight, there is a surprising amount of evidence to suggest that the Celtic twilight was particularly congenial to them’ (p. 66) [despite the fact that vampires, per se, do not appear to figure in Irish tradition]. During his researches for Dracula Bram Stoker read Baring-Gould’s Book of Werewolves (p. 71).

Frayling speaks of E. D. Gerard’s The Land Beyond the Forest, and Stoker’s debt to it: ‘Much of the lore in Dracula comes from a chapter in this book, published as an article in 1885, sometimes almost verbatim. Bram Stoker was not an experienced writer of fiction when first he embarked on his masterpiece in spring 1890 (he had yet to publish his first full-length novel), and the research sources he was using—their phrases, their information, their ideas—were transposed all too obviously into the finished text. Only when he was writing from his own experience, and about places he knew well, did he manage to “cut loose” from his research’ (pp. 72–3). Frayling, as you may have begun to guess, is not infallible in his judgements; we shall assess this last one when we come to the text of Dracula itself.

Amongst other probable sources of the latter, claims Frayling (and numerous other critics), is Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, ‘a successful attempt to revive the (unfashionable) epistolary novel…We know that Stoker found the name Dracula in a memoir he was reading, in Whitby public library, during summer 1890’ (p. 77). ‘“Drac” meant dragon, “ul” meant “the” and “a” meant “son of”, so “Dracula” meant “son of the dragon”’ (p. 78).

Ludovic Flow has written about Stoker’s work and about Dracula in particular: “He is the master of the commonplace style in which clichés flow as if they were impelled by the same pressure as genius. I don’t say this lightly. There is a semi-heroic, Everyman quality about his intense command of the mediocre—as if the commonplace had found a champion who could wear its colours with all the ceremony of greatness. When such a man, just once, is thoroughly afraid, the charade stops and what you get is Dracula. (quoted on p. 79)

[No references in this book, or index, or bibliography; there is no work by Ludovic Flow in the National Library of Scotland, where I checked these references out.]

We note that so thorough was Stoker in preparing his materials that he was in correspondence with with the famous cultural scholar, Max Muller, about sources. Indeed Frayling suggests that Muller may be one of the models for Van Helsing (p. 82).

Sections 1–4: Source Material

This concludes the original essay part of the book: the rest is made up of source material, each entry being prefixed by biographical notes on the author:

  • Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, ‘A Voyage to the Levant’, pp. 87;
  • Dom Augustin Calmet, ‘Treatise on the Vampires of Hungary and Surrounding Regions’, pp. 92–103;
  • John Polidori, The Vampyre, pp. 107–125;
  • Lord Byron, ‘Fragment of a Story’, pp. 126–130; 
  • Alexandre Dumas, ‘A Visit to the Theatre’, pp. 131–144; 
  • James Malcolm Rymer, Varney, the Vampyre, pp. 145–161;
  • Johann Ludwig Tieck, ‘Wake not the dead’, pp. 165–189; 
  • E. T. A. Hoffmann, ‘Aurelia’, pp. 190–207; 
  • Fitz-James O’Brien, ‘What was it?’, pp. 208–220; 
  • ‘X.L.’, ‘A Kiss of Judas’, pp. 221–250; 
  • Alexis Tolstoy, ‘The Family of the Vourdalak’ pp. 251–279; 
  • Eliza Lynn Linton, ‘The Fate of Madame Cabanel’, pp. 280–293.

Section 5: ‘The Genesis of Dracula

‘When Oxford University Press announced in 1983 that it was about to reissue Bram Stoker’s Dracula as the hundredth title in the World’s Classics Series, it did so as if looking down from the great height of some ivory tower; authors from the acknowledged great tradition, the press said, would “no doubt turn in their graves” if they knew that they would in future be sharing the library shelves with Bram Stoker. And when the novelist and biographer A. N. Wilson deigned to write an Introduction for OUP, he proved to be even more apologetic:

Dracula, is, patently…not a great work of literature. The writing is of a powerful, workaday sensationalist kind. No one in their right mind would think of Stoker as “a great writer”. How can someone who is not a great writer be said to have written a classic?…[By making] your hair stand on end. And that, from the first page to the last, is what Dracula is meant to do. (section 5)

Apart from anything else, adds Wilson, Stoker hadn’t even taken the trouble to do much background reading before cobbling together his magnum opus. At least if he had been a scholar, it is implied, he might have earned his place at the high table on that ticket:

Stoker was obviously well-enough versed in the better-known sensationalist vampire literature—Varney the Vampire, Carmilla and so on. It would seem likely that he did some—but very little—research for his fantasy and that, like Jonathan Harker, he ‘had visited the British Museum, and made search among the books and maps in the Library regarding Transylvania’…Stoker’s imagination was not a uniquely original one. Vampires from Varney and Le Fanu; a setting and a personage hastily ‘got up’ from a few hours in the British Museum. What is there left to say of Bram Stoker’s originality or achievement? (section 5)

The answer is: a great deal. A. N. Wilson had done some research for his anaemic contribution—but very little. For, over a decade before his Introduction was published, and sixty years after they were originally sold at Sotheby’s, London, Bram Stoker’s “original Foundation Notes and Data for his Dracula” were acquired by the Rosenbach Foundation in Philadelphia. A brief account of them had appeared in Notes and Queries in 1977. These show, says Frayling, that whatever his talents as a writer, Stoker did a great deal of research for the book, and it was several years in the writing. [There’s a useful point to bear in mind here for the utility of good literary scholarship, and the consequences when people do it badly.] This is excellent: it shows a careful, adaptable, intelligent enquirer using a whole range of resources at his disposal: the section is on pp. 297–302. This included going round the graveyard at Whitby jotting down suitable names. ‘…we know that Stoker’s visits to Cruden Bay in Scotland…every summer from 1893 onwards provided a suitably romantic setting for the actual drafting of the novel. Some have even suggested that there may be a Scots folkloric basis for Dracula but there is very little evidence for this’ (p. 299).

These working notes show that Stoker worked on the novel over a much longer period than several biographers have suggested, some suggesting as late as 1895 or 1896. ‘The book was intended to be set in the year 1893 (S. was as meticulous…about dates as he was about train timetables and weather conditions, and he made several efforts to make the timescale “fit”)’ (p. 299). The epistolary form was decided from the outset. ‘The Count was originally, and somewhat prosaically, to be known as “Count Wampyr”; the first direct reference to “Count Dracula” occurs on the 29th February 1892, following Stoker’s discovery of the name in William Wilkinson’s book, probably in summer 1890 (see page 317). The novel was originally to be set in Austrian Styria; only later (1892) did Stoker decide to move it eastwards to Transylvania…’ (pp. 299–300). [He knew his law stuff; he was himself called to the bar in 1890.]

The Munich episode, later published as ‘Dracula’s Guest’ stayed in the book until final draft stage. The movement between England and East Europe was there from the beginning, as was the ‘rules’ for vampires; the title was decided at the very last moment; S. uncertain whether to call it The Undead or The Dead Undead: the contract for the book signed with Constables on 20 May 1897 gives the title as The Undead. ‘…timely reminder—as we examine his “Foundation Notes and Data”—that the novel isn’t just a pile of pieces of information about the author (as it has tended to be treated by commentators in recent years); it is also a structure held together well below the surface of the text’ (p. 302).

Bram Stoker’s Working Papers for Dracula

pp. 303–316: This is a talk through the papers from the Rosenbach Stoker Collection, the documents being rearranged so far as possible in correct chronological order by the editor. He was working with train timetables and Baedekers to establish an exact and credible chronology. 

Bram Stoker’s Research Papers for Dracula

pp. 317–347: This deals with the books and articles, identified by name and with key extracts from them, that S. used while researching the book. It is here that we get the following: ‘Amazingly Bram Stoker first came across the name DRACULA while reading a memoir by the “Late British Consul Resident at Bukorest” in the public library at Whitby in Yorkshire. He even noted down the class mark! Since we know that Stoker was holidaying there, between July and September 1890 (when he scribbled his notes for Chapters VI–VIII of Dracula, the ones which describe events in Whitby between 26 July and 19 August), it seems certain he discovered Dracula that same summer, some four or five months after he started thinking about the book…The passage from Wilkinson’s book reprinted here contains the one and only reference to the historical Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, in all of Stoker’s research papers’ (pp. 317–8).

For interest’s sake, here is the reference:

…the year 1444; when Ladislas King of Hungary, preparing to make war against the Turks, engaged the Voivode Dracula to form an alliance with him. The Hungarian troops marched through the principality and were joined by four thousand Wallachians under the command of Dracula’s son…[a later Dracula, presumably the son of the first takes up the war against the Turks once more—Wilkinson continues] Dracula did not remain satisfied with mere prudent measures of defence: with an army he crossed the Danube and attacked the few Turkish troops that were stationed in his neighbourhood; but this attempt, like those of his predecessors, was only attended with momentary success. Mahomet having turned his arms against him, drove him back to Wallachia, whither he pursued and defeated him. The Voivode escaped into Hungary… (p. 319)

Wilkinson adds ‘Dracula in the Wallachian language means Devil. The Wallachians were, at that time, as they are at present, used to give this as a surname to any person who rendered himself conspicuous either by courage, cruel actions, or cunning’ (p. 319).

This section ends with several short pieces:

  • Emily Gerard, “Transylvanian Superstitions.”
  • Charles Boner, “Transylvania,” which had excellent and detailed pull out maps of the region.
  • A. F. Crosse, “Round About the Carpathians.”
  • Major E. C. Johnson, “On the Track of the Crescent.”
  • S. Baring-Gould, “Book of Were-wolves.”

Section 6: ‘Count Dracula

Then a section simply called ‘Count Dracula’ which reprints ‘Dracula’s Guest’ with explanatory notes arguing that it could not be merely a cancelled chapter of the larger novel as is sometimes stated. Then we get extracts from Dracula itself with notes relating these to Stoker’s reading.

Section 7: ‘Haemosexuality’

Then a section entitled ‘Haemosexuality’ [sic] pp. 385–422. Explores the association of vampirism with sadistic sexuality. Opens with a quote from Song One of The Songs of Maldoror by Lautreamont (1868) a bizarre piece about the pleasures of growing your nails long and slashing the chest of a boy lover and drinking his blood. This section deals with the long literary connections between love and death, between kissing and biting, between desiring and eating, [so that love and cannibalism are linked].

Amongst psychiatrists, the earliest to speak explicitly of the links between sadistic sexuality and vampirism was Richard von Krafft-Ebing, professor of psychiatry at the University of Vienna, and he first published it in his book Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886. This contained many classic case studies of sexual deviation (p. 388).

Then we get an extract from leading Freudian theorest Ernest Jones’s On the Nightmare written in the 1920s and included because ‘it is the most sane analysis of the psychological meaning of vampirism (from a Freudian perspective) that has yet been written’ (p. 389). He concludes with a bit of Maurice Richardson’s ‘The Psychoanalysis of Ghost Stories’ published in Twentieth Century magazine, December 1959, which has been very influential with later interpreters. Kraft-Ebbing says ‘That lust and cruelty often occur together is a fact that has long been recognised and is frequently observed…’ (p. 390) and cites a wide variety of sources ancient and modern including Lombroso. [The idea is that during particularly good sex, everything in the nervous system is excited, and so things like scratching and biting are, as it were, a reflex action resulting from stimulus elsewhere.] In psychopathic personalities, the urge to inflict pain is correspondingly heightened. There is a similar urge, in men, towards conquest and domination of the partner. Necrophilia he regards as merely an intensification of the urge to dominate without the least possibility of resistance. Krafft-Ebing gives further examples of exposure to other people’s blood acting as an erotic stimulus.

‘On the Vampire’ by Ernest Jones pp. 398–417: a rather plodding piece; this is reportage rather than analysis, i.e. a statement of the fact rather than an explanation of it, except in vague Freudian terms.

Maurice Richardson invokes and recommends Jones’s chapter. Richardson holds that only a Freudian reading can make any sense of the novel. 


pp. 423: Quotes an interesting passage from Joyce’s Ulysses in which a moon maid meets a male vampire: ‘He comes, pale vampire, through storm his eyes, his bat sails bloodying the sea, mouth to her mouth’s kiss’ (quoted on p. 423). And also from The Waste Land, the section beginning ‘A woman drew her long black hair out tight…’ which seems to allude to the section in Dracula where the Count crawls head downwards down the walls.

That’s all the epilogue is, just these two passages set enigmatically together without comment.

Bibliography and Acknowledgements

Then ‘Bibliography and Acknowledgements’ which forms an excellent catalogue raisonné of the main materials in the field, including Montague Summers, and several continental works. Has Robert Eisler’s Man into Wolf (1951). Here’s Raymond McNally and Radu Florescu’s two books, The Essential Dracula, 1979, and Dracula Prince of Many Faces, 1989.

Hallab, Mary. Vampire God: The Allure of the Undead in Western Culture: State University of New York Press, 2009. ISBN: 9781438428604.

This is the latest scholarly overview of the vampire trope. My own comments are enclosed in square brackets.


Hallab begins by posing the fundamental question: why are we still interested in vampires? What need to they fulfill? She says ‘"…what hidden void is modern Western society trying to fill with this fantasy?" with “…its unique bipolarity—both human and supernatural, alive and dead…” (p. 1). The Freudian explanations in terms of latent urges and desires she considers ‘rather unfortunate’, discounting it in view of the sheer variety of the vampire trope: “…although repressed sexuality may explain many vampires from Dracula to Buffy’s Angel, it hardly explains the popularity of vampire toys, vampire jokes, vampire ballets, operas, breakfast cereals, cartoons, including good vampires, bad vampires, child, adult, male, female, geriatric vampires, vampires from space, […etc. etc.]” (p. 3). She concludes, “not all vampires are sexy” (p. 3).

…as with the serial killer, the danger itself is not forbidden or quirky sex, but death. If the killer enticed children with shiny toys, we would not say that the story was about shiny toys. Although there may be…a comment on the dangers of sexuality, as in ballads of the demon lover, the erotic vampire seducer may say more about the attractiveness of danger and death than about sex. (p. 3)

In the age of ubiquitous internet porn we do not need vampires to signal forbidden sex, yet they continue to flourish. Likewise though Dracula is classically a foreigner, most vampires are not. She says it’s all about the representation of death. And they have representational potency because we can’t deal directly with the idea of death any more. We want to deny death: the vampire is its living embodiment as well as an example of how it may be avoided: “In the popular media…death is treated either as a vague and mysterious existence in another world or as a horrifying and unfortunate mistake—one which, however, with healthy living, the right exercise, the right neighbourhoods, or the right faith (sincerely held) might be avoided. We seldom admit that deaths, even among the very old, are unavoidable; someone must be to blame” (p. 6).

She says that vampires are part of a general largely pagan substructure of belief, largely unacknowledged in ‘official’ sources. [Maybe, au contraire, there is an unacknowledged death wish at the heart of Western society—certainly much of the history of the 20th century with its murderous wars might tend to support this view—the desire to be taken sweetly down into oblivion, but not by some vulgar animal, like, say, a werewolf, but by a beautiful super-endowed angel of death. Call it, perhaps, ‘vampire’?] Hallab calls this residual belief ‘popular folklore’. The remainder of this introduction, it ends on p. 15, is a reasoned and concise clear exposition of the broad outlines of the rest of the book.  Interestingly, she starts with New England vampires, but uses a different source from the one we did, namely Michael Bell, Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England’s Vampires (2001).

However comforting it may be, Christianity does not even attempt to identify, explain, or treat illness and death except by reference to the will of God and the efficacy of prayer. Vampires are part of a practical alternative, a folk science of death and the dead, which, like modern science, operates independently of accepted religious dogma and is often in conflict with it. (p. 18)

Growing awareness of vampire activity during the 18th century caused the Catholic church to commission two big reports into it: one of these was that of Dom Augustine Calmet, and we get an account of his main findings here. It emerges that there was a real 18th century Comte de Saint-Germain [hero of a series of vampire novels by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro] who claimed to be a prince of Transylvania and to have lived for 1000 years (p. 21).  Hallab then rehearses varies theories of death including that of the partially sentient corpse. Then comes an interesting section on Byron, Polidori and contemporary scientific interest in the creation of life we see perhaps most vividly in Frankenstein. She points out that in ‘The Mysterious Stranger’, Carmilla, and Dracula when things go wrong the doctor rather than the clergyman is sent for. She says “Three major vampire works of the nineteenth century reflect the influence of popular scientific speculation about the nature of death, immortality—and vampires” (p. 23); these are Carmilla, Varney, and Dracula.

The earliest of the sceptical men of science who turn up with such monotonous regularity in such works seems to be Dr. Chillingworth from Varney, who dismisses speculation about the vampire’s true nature as “contrary to all experience, to philosophy, and to all the laws of ordinary nature” although he’s playing a double game: it emerges that he, Chillingworth, “resuscitated Varney from a botched gallows execution by means of “galvanic” experiments, somewhat reminiscent of those used by Dr. Frankenstein” (p. 24). [The reference is to the New York Dover edition published in two volumes, 1972, i, 328–31.]

Several of the questions that haunt Louis in Interview with the Vampire first surface here in Varney. At one point, Marchdale asserts, “what is, is natural” (p. 25) (Dover edn., i, 135).  Then we get similar reflections in Carmilla: “The guest Carmilla begins to exhibit odd nocturnal behaviour that, as in Varney, is at first given a rational explanation and attributed to sleepwalking although she is actually out drinking blood from the neighbours as well as from her hostess Laura. Carmilla justifies her lifestyle: ‘All things proceed from Nature—don’t they? All things in the heaven, in the earth, and under the earth, act and live as Nature ordains? I think so.’ …her story supposedly can be found in the papers of a Dr. Hesselius, who—in contrast to Dr. Chillingworth—provides authority for its truth and testimony to the sanity of the teller” (p. 25).

Interestingly, Hallab says that changing views of Nature (regarded by the Victorian intelligentsia at the time of Carmilla as red in tooth and claw) ’embodies nature’s ruthless voraciousness’ [here’s the Darwinian angle, O scientists!]. This is followed by a section on Dracula and 19th-century Victorian science, pp. 26–7. 

She then goes on to consider the positive side of the vampire trope, namely the promise of immortality. She talks of “Nosferatu’s dissolution in the face of moral perfection” (p. 28). Notes the modern novels in which vampirism is shown to be some kind of disease whose answer is medical, or some genetic mutation, such that the vampire is a distinct, and perhaps superior, species. The regenerative powers therefore implicit in such conditions can be harnessed for human good as we see in Dan Simmons’s Children of the Night (1992) where an immunologist discovers the vampire gene and “this “vampire gene” along with the vampire virus might offer a cure for certain devastating autoimmune diseases like AIDS as well as a means of repairing injuries and resisting the ravages of old age” (pp. 28–9).  [This is the earliest reference that I know of to the idea central to True Blood, that ‘V’ might be energising and restorative]. Dracula himself appears in this novel, ancient beyond counting and slowly withering, he is thinking of true death until some of the serum perks him up again and renews his vitality.

Hallab talks interestingly, quoting evidence, of modern man’s hunger to arrest the processes of ageing and prolong life by any means, genetic, medical, or other [and I can well believe that in such an ethos the vampire might stand as an incentive, as a symbol, and an example of this aspiration; there’s an additional element here perhaps, a literal treatment of the metaphors of ‘death-in-life’ that some have used to convey the ennui and anomie of middle class life in the modern industrial, consumption-orientated world]. Hallab points out, although indirectly, that immortality may actually increase the fear of death because there is then so much more to lose. This in a discussion of various minor novels which fret about immortality and the social and political implications: i.e. if everybody were a vampire, what would they live on?

Chapter 2: Vampires and Society

Opens with an excellent summary of the social usefulness of the vampire folklore in traditional communities and a sketch of the various ways of becoming a vampire in a variety of different traditional societies (p. 33). The vampire embodies how not to behave (as conceived in peasant terms) and she quotes the terrifying Greek curse “may you never decay” i.e. “may you become a vampire” (p. 34).

Proper burial and mourning are powerful ways of reconciling a society with its outcasts and deviants, who may be potentially dangerous when dead. Traditional funerals in Romania and Greece, quoted at length in the notes show a lively dialogue between the living and the dead: i.e. the land of the dead is a human place, communication is easy; death is therefore rendered less final, less threatening. [What the vampire trope reveals ultimately is the survival into modern society of the remains at least of a primitive cult of the dead: all the details are here, including the notion that the dead walk because they are hungry.] The sheer utility of the concept of the vampire emerges on all sides: ‘In his article “Why are Vampires still alive” about Wallachian immigrants in Scandinavia (1986), Swedish anthropologist Carl-Ulrik Schierup says, of “worship of the dead,” which involves mutual duties and obligations. Failure to fulfill these obligations either before or after death can result in the return of the deceased to create problems for the living, to whom they can bring good or bad fortune’ (p. 35).

In traditional communities not all vampires are evil, but they are all pests. They mess up the ideally impassable barrier between life and death for one thing. It encourages folk to do right by others in their lifetime in case they come back to right wrongs after their death, so ultimately it promotes social harmony and reconciliation amongst the living. [Then follow brief notes on the theme of transgression in Byron, Polidori and Stoker, drawn mostly from secondary sources, sometimes a mere patchwork of other people’s opinions.] Polidori attacks aristocratic arrogance and disregard for others; Byron’s Giaour “in the poem of that name (1813) will be cursed to an eternity of unrest for his contempt for human life and his affronts to community values” (p. 37).

Hallab says a bit about Buffy drawing attention to the precariousness of the comfortable suburban existences perched, unknown to them, on the verge of the apocalypse [and I thought, aha, it was maybe only when the Cold War was finally over that we could acknowledge the Hellmouth over which we had all been suspended during the two generations following WWII]. “Stoker’s Dracula sets the model for the vampire who represents the dangerous persistence of the past in the present, often unacknowledged and unrecognised, creating friction and conflict, for example, of the antique patriarchy with the New Woman or the traditional aristocracy with a new kind of democracy of middle-class heroes…” (p. 39). In Newman’s Anno Dracula the count, now prince consort, tries to turn 19th-century England back into the “middle ages with himself as lord of the manor” (p. 39).

Movie makers and writers often use the vampire to represent fear of falling back into barbarism; vampire hunters represent modernity by contrast. The ethos of the Van Helsing circle is drawn from Victorian medievalism and love of knightly chivalric adventure. Then there are some notes on Yarbro’s Hotel Transylvania, then a bigger section on Kim Newman: “by peopling the novels with both fictitious characters and actual historical figures, [he] makes a complex statement about the relation of art to life and the way fiction may replace or even supersede history, as, for example, Newman’s Bram Stoker is executed by Stoker’s fictitious Dracula” (p. 45).

More interesting observations follow; it seems that at the end “Dracula is not killed…but flies from England as a giant bat—to show up again in The Bloody Red Baron as Graf von Dracula, behind the scenes manipulator of the German air force, for which his crude brutality and contempt for life perfectly suit him; however, his use of medieval war tactics proves disastrous for him and the German offensive” (p. 45).  Then some interesting paragraphs about Elizabeth’s Kostova’s The Historian, and the ironical depiction of historical research within it. “Anne Rice’s vampires move all over space and time but in a fantastic world that often seems to be drawn from old movies like The Mummy or The Phantom of the Opera rather than even casual cultural or historical research” (p. 48).

Chapter 3: Vampires and Psychology

“According to sociologists Robert Fulton and Robert Bendiksen in the introduction to their collection Death and Identity, the conviction that the individual does not die—that there is ultimately no death—that in some way, somewhere, he or she will continue to exist, is innate and universal” (p. 49). In some cultures the soul is regarded as detachable from the body. For most societies, the soul is the person, the body is an appendage. In most societies, “funerary rituals are to make sure the dead will stay dead” (p. 52). Hallab follows this with an interesting critical section on the leading tendency to prefer sexual interpretations of the vampire’s role, with useful brief summaries of Maurice Richardson and Ernest Jones’s Freudian readings of the trope (p. 54).

Hallab speaks of “a kind of Freudian/Jungian wet dream of incest, torture, murder, and assorted sexual perversions” (p. 55). [Which sounds like a pretty good plot summary of Interview with the Vampire.]

Hallab says that of the two themes, sex and death, death is far more important in the minds of most readers; in life, “sex is temporary and intermittent (and often unavailable). Death is unavoidable” (p. 56). Hallab’s thesis is that under the surface of conventional religion which most people ostensibly adhere to in the west is an ancient and still active real religion, involving a kind of Manichaean struggle between good and evil, light and dark, and that most people, from simple modern Greek peasants to sophisticated educated urbanites privately are unsatisfied by the Church’s promises of immortality, and believe that the self is annihilated at death (pp. 56–7). [Interesting that in her extensive catalogue of ruthlessly self-assertive vampires expressing an indomitable will to live, she should fail to mention Interview with the Vampire which amongst later texts offers the most powerful expression of vampire ennui—precisely the loss of the urge to life.]

Chapter 4: The Religious Vampire: Reason, Romantics, and Victorians

She goes on to a brief discussion of Byron’s Giaour (1813), his ‘Fragment’, John Polidori’s The Vampyre and other 19th-century texts. She has some interesting stuff on the symbolism of the Byron piece: in Roman and Classical Greek culture,  storks and snakes are both symbols of rebirth; she goes on to consider the symbolic significance of Ceres, Demeter and Eleusis, all implying periodic returns from the underworld, death, fertility and renewal (pp. 75–6). “The popularity of Polidori’s story established the vampire as a Byronic hero/villain, whose malign intent is belied by a charming exterior” (p. 76). Then we get an analysis of Varney the Vampire in terms of its religious parameters, ranging from the rational, deistical, materialism of Chillingworth to the broad church Anglicanism of Mr Bevan and the ignorant superstition of the mob (p. 77). There follows an interesting short discussion of ‘The Mysterious Stranger’ which describes the killing of the vampire Azzo von Klatka as a ‘reverse crucifixion’ [three nails are driven into his coffin while the credo is read] (p. 79). Then Carmilla and a rather far-fetched suggestion that Carmilla may not be real, but be a ‘projection of the repressed adolescent sexuality of her victim Laura’ (p. 80). Then on to Dracula. [Where she makes too much, I think, of the link between the Count and Satan.]

Leatherdale, Clive. Dracula: The Novel and the Legend: A Study of Bram Stoker’s Gothic Masterpiece. Aquarian Press, 1985. ISBN: 9780850303834.

Chapters 1 & 2

Dracula is almost the Gothic novel par excellence and has given rise to arguably the most potent literary myth of the twentieth century. (p. 10) 

Leatherdale views the novel as a complex and many layered work, permitting a multiplicity of readings. This was written while it was still possible to view the popular image of the vampire in the Lugosi/Christopher Lee mode, and before Anne Rice and the later reinventors of the trope.

‘The concept of the vampire is founded upon two precepts: the belief in life after death, and the magical power of blood’ (p. 13). Leatherdale talks of the notion that the dead also needed blood, as we see in the ancient Etruscan rituals and the gladiatorial games and since they had no source of their own, they must derive it from the living.

‘In Asia, Chinese tales spoke of blood-sucking creatures that were green, covered with mould, and which had a propensity to glow in the dark…Africa is similarly rich in the diversity of its vampire species’ (p. 17). Leatherdale gives examples and also from the West Indies, in Brazil, Japan and Serbia: vampires’ ability to transform into various animals is noted; here, too, are Classical examples, lamias and such; the related ideas of the succubus and incubus appear during the middle ages.

‘It is at this point that the European vampire of folklore begins to crystallize. The preceding gallery is composed of phantoms of the spirit world. They manifest an ethereal existence. Two changes are needed for the successful metamorphosis into the true European vampire: first, the acquisition of corporeal structure; second, the development of sexual predilections, as hinted at in the lamia/succubus tradition’ (p. 18). His explanation of this important point, is however, and alas, entirely conjectural.

Leatherdale lists various practices amongst the living that lead to close interaction with the dead: cannibalism (or necrophagy) mutilation of corpses (necro-sadism) and copulation with a corpse (necrophilia). ‘Absorbing Christ’s uncorrupted blood amounts to a regenerative transfusion…[goes on to explain briefly the doctrine of transubstantiation] The Eucharist was not the only means of reinforcing belief in the mystical properties of blood. The cult of the Virgin Mary encouraged charlatans to prescribe uncorrupted virgins’ blood as an antidote for every conceivable malady’ (p. 24). It occurs to one that the vampire legends are a blasphemous inversion of the ideas at the heart of the Eucharist. Christian churches took up all kinds of pagan beliefs and adapted them for their own purposes, including the vampires; the Malleus Maleficarum.

Leatherdale notes the work of Montague Summers, author of The Vampire, publ. 1929, with various caveats: Leatherdale claims Summers is the source of sources; later ones add little to him; he’s good for information, but as a virulent believer in the reality of the things he described he’s unreliable; uncritical of his sources.

In pre-mediaeval times, becoming a vampire was largely a misfortune and need not imply moral turpitude: this could happen to if you were stillborn, or drowned, or met your death violently. You could inherit it: i.e. it could be hereditary. If you were cursed by a parent, or if your pregnancy went wrong in certain ways the same thing could happen. If you were hare-lipped, or had a cleft palate, or had an unsightly birthmark, or epilepsy and chorea, if you had red hair or were sexually promiscuous…The mediaeval church added its own ecclesiastical list of charges for which vampirism could be the punishment including murder, theft, black magic, perjury, becoming excommunicated, or committing suicide. The Greek Orthodox church apparently held that if you died excommunicate then your body did not decompose in the grave. This was part of the punishment: you were trapped here, and the devil could re-animate the soul as a kind of demon enabling it to walk as a vampire (p. 27).

The Western, Catholic, church, per contra held that the failure of the body to decompose in the grave was a sign of sanctity. Suicides were buried at crossroads, so that the sign of the cross would be forever over them and impede their wandering; and that with four roads to chose from the restless spirits would not know the right one to take; and also, suicides were sometimes staked in their crossroads graves to further prevent their spirit from wandering and troubling the living (p. 28). List of vampire characteristics drawn from the pre-19th century literature (pp. 30–32). Similar most useful list of traditional precautions, such as burial of suspected vampires face down (p. 33). Leatherdale speculates that a lot of this stuff derived from premature burial. Says Romania, and especially Transylvania was a centre of conflict not only between Islam and Christianity, but between Catholicism and Greek Orthodox forms of Christianity (p. 40). Theological speculation rife in Europe during the 1730s and 1740s about the nature of vampires: ultimately boiling down to the question, ‘could a corporeal substance possess astral dimensions?’ (p. 41) [and presumably vice versa].

That Britain was not a party to the vampire craze was due not to a lesser capacity for superstition, but to the effects of the Reformation. Part of the catholic explanation of vampirism concerned the doctrine of purgatory. The Protestant challenge denied the existence of purgatory, and therefore insisted that beings returning from the grave could not be the spirits of the departed. In time, Rome would amend its association between the undead and purgatory. But Protestant clerics, needing an alternative explanation for the vampire phenomenon, subsumed it under the category of “witchcraft”. Consequently, while central and eastern (Catholic or Orthodox) Europe suffered from vampires, north-western (Protestant) Europe suffered its witches. [McClelland’s The Slayer and his Vampires is largely just an expansion of what Leatherdale tells us here.] This results in the different colour of demonology found in different parts of Christendom. Ireland aside, Britain was virtually bereft of indigenous vampire lore. When the eighteenth century vampire invasion arrived, it came not through folklore but through literature.

Chapter 3: The Vampire in Literature

This is largely based on Twitchell [James B. Twitchell, The Living Dead: A Study of the Vampire in Romantic Literature, 1981] and Frayling. Literary use of vampire lore in 18th century Germany. Leatherdale says Bürger’s ‘Lenore’ with its vivid phrase ‘Denn die Todten reiten schnell’ (For the dead travel fast) was clearly known to Stoker (p. 46). Brief quotations follow from a range of early Romantic writers, Coleridge, Southey, Stagg, Sir Walter Scott, Shelley, Keats,  and Byron ‘…as they freely adapted folklore for their own ends.’ Romantics were not interested in the undead as such. In their hands, vampires ceased to be “the end”, and became the “means” or catalyst. The creatures now depicted bore little resemblance to the foamy-mouthed, walking corpses of Slavonic legend. Then follows an account of Byron and Polidori.

…the exploits of Sir Francis Varney mark him as the principal literary precursor of Count Dracula. Those ingredients in Varney later employed by Bram Stoker include: the maidens’ sexual initiation and ambiguous responses; the vampire’s roots in central Europe; the quasi-medical-scientific methods of vampire disposal; and the Keystone-Cops-style hunt for the vampire. Varney also includes sleep-walking victims and a villain in black cloak who climbs down castle walls and arrives in Britain aboard a shipwrecked vessel during a tempest. (p. 53)

Chapter 4: The Life and Works of Bram Stoker

Interesting evocation, by Stoker, of the orientalist and explorer, Sir Richard Burton: ‘The man riveted my attention. He was dark, and forceful, and masterful, and ruthless. I have never seen so iron a countenance…Burton’s face seemed to lengthen when he laughed; the upper lip rising instinctively and showing the right canine tooth…As he spoke the upper lip rose and his canine tooth showed its full length like the gleam of a dagger’ (quoted on p. 66).

References given; a composite passage cobbled together from Stoker’s Reminiscences of Sir Henry Irving. In 1893 Stoker discovers the northern Scottish golfing resort of Cruden Bay, versions of which begin to feature in a number of novels and short stories, including ‘The Man from Shorrox’s’ (1894) in which a traveller shares a bed at an inn with a corpse. ‘Crooken Sands’ (1894) ‘set in a thinly disguised Cruden Bay, tells of a London merchant on holiday who kits himself out in highland regalia and casts eyes on his own image being sucked down under quicksand’ (p. 67). Then The Watter’s Mou’ (1894) and in 1897, Dracula. The latter met mixed reviews: a few of which are quoted here.

Interestingly, Stoker’s mother thought very highly of it:

It is splendid, a thousand miles beyond anything you have written before, and I feel certain will place you very high in the writers of the day…No book since Mrs Shelley’s “Frankenstein” or indeed any other at all has come near yours in originality, or terror—Poe is nowhere. I have read much but I have never met a book like it at all. In its terrible excitement it should make a widespread reputation and much money for you. (quoted on p. 69)

Irving died in 1905 and thenceforth Stoker had no income save by his pen.

Chapter 5: The Origins of Dracula

The Irish folklore background. ‘Irish fairies were presumed to be bloodless, and their abduction of humans intended to remedy that deficiency’ (p. 78).

He goes on to show other hints from Irish folklore that may have found their way into Dracula, on the whole, fairly plausibly. Points to links with Charles Maturin’s novel Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) who ‘was condemned to everlasting life for signing a pact with the devil which had granted him eternal youth…’ (pp. 79–80).

Points to links with Faust, The Flying Dutchman and ‘The Demon Lover’. But the greatest single influence on Dracula was Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1860). He adds ’the names Harkwright, Marian, and Laura in The Woman in White are easily turned into Harker, Mina and Lucy in Dracula. Similarly, both books featured a grotesque/lunatic’ (p. 98).

The principal villain of each work is a Count. Each is endowed with personal magnetism and telepathic powers…Each shares an affinity with the animal world; and is introduced to the reader solely through the impressions of others. Furthermore, both novels witness a young hero embarking on a wild adventure…and both works feature “graveyards, insane asylums, dreary mansions, old chapels, zoological gardens, spectral trysts and moonlike nocturnes.” (p. 81)

Apparently Frazer’s Golden Bough began to appear in 1890 which ‘include[s] a detailed account of the vampire myth’ (p. 81).

People invoked the idea of the vampire when discussing the murders of Jack the Ripper in contemporary London. The orientalist Richard Burton was a friend, and probable influence: there is a vampire in the Arabian Nights. The scenes in Highgate Cemetery are probably drawn from Dante Gabriel Rossetti (whom Stoker knew and was a neighbour of): in 1869 Rossetti and his friends had exhumed his dead wife Elizabeth Siddal, to recover a MS of Rossetti’s poems he had committed to the tomb with her in 1862; ‘The corpse was almost perfectly preserved, and Siddal’s golden red hair almost filled the coffin. Stoker was deeply impressed by this episode. He would adapt it for one of his short stories…and certain cemetery scenes in Dracula would be modelled upon it’ (p. 82).

Influence of Cruden Bay and so on and so on through a rota of fisher-folk superstitions (pp. 84–85).

He goes on to talk about the working notes for Dracula and gives as a probable starting date 1890, so that the novel was anything but a rush job. He seems also to have been aware of the theatrical possibilities of the tale from the outset (pp. 86–7).

 Bradbury, Malcom and James McFarlane. Modernism: A Guide to European Literature 1890–1930. Penguin, 1976. ISBN: 9780140138320.

Many commentators have treated Modernism as a consequence of cultural catastrophe, a violent breach with the past in terms of both content and style; others have seen it as a logical development of what went before. Since a number of writers on this course consciously reflected the Modernist style, it may be useful if we know a little of what this might mean. See how many of the following features you can trace in the texts that follow:

Bradbury and McFarlane’s introductory essay “Name and Nature of Modernism” speaks of “overwhelming dislocations, cataclysmic upheavals of culture, fundamental convulsions of the creative human spirit that seem to topple even the most solid and substantial of our beliefs and assumptions, leave great areas of the past in ruins, question an entire civilization or culture, and stimulate frenzied rebuilding” (pp. 19–20).

The word Modern is elusive and difficult of definition, and also very awkward for describing what is now a historical period. It covers a considerable multiplicity of styles. “The term has been used to cover a wide variety of movements subversive of the realist or the romantic impulse and disposed towards abstraction (Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Symbolism, Imagism, Vorticism, Dadaism, Surrealism); but these are not…all movements of one kind, and some are radical reactions against others” (p. 23).

Bradbury and McFarlane see the unifying feature of the various branches of the Modernist enterprise as a case of manner rather than content whose distinguishing qualities are abstraction and highly conscious artifice, taking us behind familiar reality, breaking away from familiar functions of language and conventions of form. Definitions of “the real” are important because the common strand in modernist art is somehow to become independent of it or to transcend it. Qualities include:

  • sophistication
  • mannerism
  • introversion (i.e. intense self-absorption on the part of the writer)
  • technical display

Its characteristic forms are:

  • anti-representationalism in painting
  • atonalism in music
  • verse libre in poetry
  • stream-of-consciousness narrative in the novel. 
  • a sensing of, an exploitation of, a celebration of, cultural disaster, an “immense panorama of futility and anarchy” (p. 27).

Bradbury and Mcfarlane identify amongst the leading Modernist writers Yeats, Joyce, Eliot, Lawrence, Proust, Valery, Gide, Mann, Rilke, Kafka, and Virginia Woolf. Dating is problematic but most accounts concentrate on the first thirty or so years of the 20th century, seeing Modernism’s “annus mirabilis” as 1922, the year of Ulysses and The Waste Land, of Brecht’s Baal, of Lawrence’s Aaron’s Rod, Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, Proust’s Sodome et Gomorrhe, and Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie. Nihilism, alienation, and angst are generally seen as the classic attributes of Modernist writers and Modernist artworks. A reaction against 19th-century Positivism introduced a corresponding interest in irrational and unconscious forces in thinkers like Sorel, Bergson, and Pareto.

Modernism in most countries was an extraordinary compound of the futuristic and the nihilistic, the revolutionary and the conservative [the politics of some leading Modernist artists was extremely reactionary], the naturalistic and the symbolistic, the romantic and the classical. It was a celebration of a technological age and a condemnation of it… in most countries the fermenting decade was the eighteen nineties. (p. 46)

Richard Sheppard’s essay, “German Expressionism”, pp. 274–291, traces its foundation to the second decade of the 20th century. Destructive in intent, and directed against the comfortable certainties of bourgeois platitude in art: “conviction that the institutions of industrial capitalism were maiming and distorting human nature by developing the intellect and the will in the service of material production and neglecting the spirit, feelings and imagination…Paul Fechter [writing in 1920 in Der Expressionismus] spoke about’the shift of emphasis from inner to outer matters is victorious all along the line’” (p. 276). In his essay “Dada and Surrealism”, pp. 292–308, Robert Short says of this group “..they disputed whether, in the light of new knowledge about man’s psychology and the nature of the universe which was his environment, the production of works of art or literature was any longer feasible, morally justifiable or socially worthwhile” (p. 301).

“The Language of Modernist Fiction: Metaphor and Metonymy” by David Lodge, pp. 481–496, itemises the qualities which mark modernist writing:

First, it is experimental or innovatory in form, exhibiting marked deviations from existing modes of discourse, literary and non-literary. Next, it is much concerned with consciousness, and also with the subconscious or unconscious workings of the human mind…Lastly, modern fiction eschews the straight chronological ordering of its material, and the use of a reliable, omniscient and intrusive narrator. It employs, instead, either a single, limited point of view, or multiple viewpoints, all more or less limited and fallible; and it tends toward a complex or fluid handling of time, involving much cross-reference back and forward across the temporal span of the action. (p. 482)

McClelland, Bruce. Slayers and their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead. University of Michigan Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780472069231. 

[McClelland is a leading Slavonic studies scholar, fluent in Serbo-Croat, and his book one of the better ones to have been published on the subject in recent years. The central point is that in Eastern European tradition the vampire never occurred singly, on its own; there was always an accompanying figure, the skilled and knowledgeable vampire slayer. He discusses how one becomes a vampire in the traditional societies which gave birth to the idea, and how the communities could then respond to the subsequent threat. You’ll need to understand what the Enlightenment was; make sure you do.]

‘…the many literary readings of the Dracula tale and the wide variety of popular Euro-American beliefs about vampires are now part of a still-emerging myth’ (p. 16). McClelland says that Stoker’s Dracula actually owes very little to indigenous Balkan folkloric vampires. When the movies took up the trope they simplified it still further, turning it into a black-and-white conflict between good and evil.

In Tod Browning’s film, [Dracula, 1931] the tale is flattened into a black-and-white struggle of good against evil: the mesmeric, undead Dracula is quite definitely monstrous and supernatural, and any sympathy the viewer might have for him as a character can only be based on the dramatic pathos of his self-proclaimed inability to die…The moral simplification that occurs in the shift from the printed to the cinematic version…A major reason the novel is still in print over a hundred years after its publication is not the quality of the writing, which is only slightly better than mediocre, but, rather, because this ambiguity of evidence is fascinating and tantalizing in its subtlety. (p. 27)

He claims that Dracula’s status is more ambiguous than frequently noticed: at first blush this doesn’t look very probable, but we’ll see when we come to his Stoker chapter.

McClelland then goes at great length into the Balkan evidence, seeing the vampire emerge in the Dark Ages in communities conflicted first in the struggle for dominance between Christianity and Paganism, and latterly between Christian and Turk. The blood-drinking motif emerges in late-Dark-Ages northern Balkans amongst a still imperfectly Christianized population as a symbolic reproach of what were imagined to be typically pagan practices. He points out the old Slavonic belief that soul and body were not finally separated until 40 days after the burial of the corpse. He also discusses the many, often accidental, ways in which a person could become a vampire, many of them involving imperfectly-performed funeral rituals.

It is of great importance that nothing impede the journey of the soul to the otherworld once a person has died. According to Orthodox belief as it is encountered in Slavic areas, the soul is separable from the body but is required to stay around the body for forty days. Thus, the separation of soul and body is not complete even after burial. Until that separation is final, there is the risk of disturbing the process of detachment by failing to observe certain precautions, such as those already outlined. (p. 53)

In Bulgaria, those who were not honored with proper burial rites—either by accidental omission or, more commonly, because church law forbade it (as in the case of suicide)—became vampires. For example, if the actual burial is unaccompanied by a priest reading the mass for the dead or if the body of the deceased is not anointed with wine and oil forming the sign of the cross, the person will become a vampire. A sixteenth-century reference states that unbelievers, excommunicates, and godless and anathematized people become vampires after death. (p. 55)

The ability to recognize the marks or status of a potential vampire is a capacity that may be given to anyone as part of a tradition, while the ability to actually recognize a wandering vampire is a gift frequently possessed only by a select group of people. In Bulgarian folklore, some types of vampire are invisible and thus can only be recognized ty their traces…Vampires that have taken on some sort of physical shape usually cannot be recognized as vampires except by animals, especially dogs, and by special people possessing the ability to see vampires. (p. 59)

These latter are often quasi-supernatural themselves, sometimes the fruit of a vampire-human union. [The stake idea may also be ultimately Balkan in origin; Balkan vampires were generally envisaged as wobbly floating bags of blood with no bones, and a kind of blood draining snout. The graves of suspected vampires were often, thus, ringed by thorns, the idea being to prick the outer skin of the bladder causing the blood to drain away, putting an end to the vampire in question.]

Even within the Slavonic world, the concept ‘vampire’ became mythologized until it indicated some kind of demon or supernatural entity: ‘…while references to the vampire before the fourteenth century are found only in Christian polemic, the context becomes more secular in succeeding centuries. Vampires are mentioned, for example, in pseudo-Christian magical “prayers” of the early seventeenth century, by which time vampires are quite clearly considered demonic and supernatural—there is no suggestion that vampires are natural living beings…In Bulgarian folklore…the period between the first hours after midnight until dawn (usually designated by cockcrow, reminding us of the vampire agrarian background) is referred to as lošo vreme, “the evil time”’ (p. 83).

‘…the coincidence of the rise of vampire scandals and the height of witch persecution in the Habsburg Empire at the beginning [and well towards the middle also] of the eighteenth century…Fourteen witches were burned following a trial in Szeged in 1728, and over the next forty years, 450 witches were tried in Hungary’ (p. 88). [This is late for such a phenomenon, and it looks big; McClelland argues that there was ’leakage’ between the concepts of witch and vampire as they drifted West, most notably perhaps in the idea that vampires were not operating individually, but as part of some sinister occult conspiracy. He also points out that in inquisitorial witch hunts, the phenomenon tends to grow exponentially, as people accused try to mitigate their plight by implicating others—presumably this is what happened in the McCarthy era: ‘communists’ started popping up nearly everywhere].

In the Orthodox Balkans, the wolf was regarded as the traditional foe of the vampire; c.f. Meyer’s Twilight. The equivocal status of the slayer is emphasized throughout.

What did for vampire belief in the East was not the Church, but the Enlightenment under which latter view “vampires represented an impossibility, since from the new, Cartesian perspective, a being could not logically be dead and alive at the same time’ (p. 126). There is an entire chapter entitled ‘The Rational Slayer,’ about Dr. Gerard van Swieten, court physician to Maria Theresa Empress of Austria, an enlightenment savant, who was dispatched to the southeast at the height of the witch-vampire scare and wrote a rationalistic book about it, pooh-pooing it as an efflorescence of mere superstition. McClelland doesn’t think van Swieten provided a model for Van Helsing, although he does draw attention to the fact that ‘…a shift occurred around the mid-eighteenth century that not only redefined the vampire as a symbolic (even literary) creature rather than a folkloric one but also established the role of the vampire slayer as a rationalist, whose tools against the vampire were no longer physically destructive and no longer belonged to the same ritual system but instead relied on learning and scientific knowledge to destroy the demons of the unconscious past’ (p. 134). [Enter the technocrat; although this doesn’t really begin to figure in English-language sources until at least the middle of the nineteenth century]. Van Swieten quotes the travel writer Tournefort’s book which mentions the vampire epidemic in southeast Austria-Hungary in the mid-eighteenth century adding ‘Vampirism spreads quickly and is as contagious as mange. Some credence is given to the notion that a cadaverous vampire in a very short time can infect every other body buried in the same cemetery if the first one is not destroyed immediately’ (p. 138).

McClelland then turns in a chapter (9: ‘From Vienna to London’) to consider Stoker’s Dracula, which he has a worrying tendency to treat as a non-fictional text, frequently seeming to forget that it’s a novel when he claims to find inconsistencies and implausibilities within it. He regards as excessive the degree of authority which the other good characters extend to Van Helsing, as a result of which they are too easily beguiled by his curious blend of science and mysticism into accepting that Dracula is a monster and wholly evil. [But this seems a mistake: we do not have to rely on Van Helsing’s reasoning to be persuaded that count Dracula is monstrous and inhumanly destructive, because…?]

‘For all of Van Helsing’s knowledge of the strange ways and supernatural figures of Transylvania…His knowledge of folklore and ritual is as a scholar, not as an insider. As a result, he is incomplete as a vampire slayer; he cannot “see” Dracula’s will (as the madman Renfield can) and thus cannot easily track him—at least not alone…’ (pp. 161–162). This traditional shamanistic power is in fact possessed by Mina, who, after being forced to drink Dracula’s blood, gains direct contact with the latter’s consciousness, and so is able to trace him. ‘Between the two of them, Mina Harker and Abraham Van Helsing, there is one complete vampire slayer, a union of rational intellect and spiritual power derived from “feminine intuition”’ (p. 164).

There’s a final chapter on The Night Stalker (a seventies vampire series) and The XFiles and Buffy which is disappointingly slight. [For example, it doesn’t really draw the obvious conclusion that the rational/mystical insight dualism sketched above is also arguably present in Buffy with Giles providing the former and Buffy herself the latter].

McClelland draws attention to Badman’s ‘academic bibliography’ of Buffy research which, apparently, by mid 2004 contained 273 entries. ‘This is a phenomenal amount of discourse pertaining to a suburban mythology developed within a sevenyear narrative on a minor television network…Though she is a girl, Buffy acquires through the phallic symbolism of the spikes a quasi-masculine status, which is exemplified by her adroit kickboxing style of knocking off demons, who are predominantly male’ (p. 179).

McClelland then goes on to contrast Van Helsing and Giles, considerably to the latter’s advantage. [But to consider this, we need to attend the big version of the Vampire class which moves the discussion into the arena of film, and chronologically into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries].

Cites Carol Senf’s The Vampire in Nineteenth-Century English Literature (Popular Press, 1988) and notes Auerbach’s comment that ‘"Dracula…is less the culmination of a tradition than the destroyer of one”’ (p. 223).

Considering Dracula the author remarks ‘If there is literary mastery here, it lies in Stoker’s brilliantly subversive arrangement of circumstances or the circumstantial. The reader of Dracula never questions the sequencing of the independent blocks of narrative that seem to lead to an inexorable conclusion, and the reader thus comes to sympathize with the heroes according to the same dynamic that caused the heroes to unquestioningly accept Van Helsing’s explication’ (pp. 225–6). [This is in line with the author’s rather half-boiled argument that Dracula gets a raw deal—presumed guilty by a self-appointed vigilante group and executed without trial.]

There has been continuous debate about the nature and effects of “popular culture” since World War II. During the period of buoyancy and expansion following WWII, American intellectuals became increasingly anxious about the negative effects of a pervasive popular culture which they saw as posing a significant challenge to their vision of a pluralist, egalitarian, and liberal America (this was before Civil Rights, women’s liberation and gay rights movements which demonstrated that whatever the aspirations, the reality lagged sadly behind for many of America’s people).

In a period of booming media expansion it seemed clear that, left to their own devices, the majority of the population preferred inferior cultural products—the movies, TV, radio, junk fiction, comic papers—and so on. Some intellectuals thought this was harmless, mere escapism which left the minds and morals of its consumers no worse than before, and possibly even benign (in that it sometimes encouraged people to read, at least, and perhaps even think, after a fashion).

The intellectuals who grabbed the headlines, however, were those who regarded popular culture as an ultimately sinister means of social control. These were broadly left-leaning individuals who viewed the mass media in political terms as a kind of capitalist plot, cheap entertainment cynically provided by leadership elites to keep the people quiet and deflect attention from the extreme inequalities of the current social and political system.

This was going on, of course, at the height of the Cold War, and anything that could be presented as resembling the Soviet way of doing (such as top-down social and political control, uniformity of thought and expression, restrictions to intellectual and artistic freedom and so on) tended to be automatically labeled a Bad Thing.

In Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White’s influential study, Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America, published in 1975, Rosenberg argued that the well-being of American society was being undermined by the dehumanizing effects of mass culture. He claimed that mass culture was inherently un-American and that its parent was not capitalism as such, but a communications technology grown sinister and spinning out of control. His colleague David White took a more optimistic view, seeing the two aspects of culture in a mutually promoting role, arguing that at the time of greatest gloom and doom about the insidious effects of popular culture, “high culture flourished in America.”

Another leading American intellectual, Dwight Macdonald (1906–1982) was the key figure in this debate, and in his essay “Theory of Mass Culture” he argued that “mass culture undermines the vitality of high culture.” Macdonald saw this problem as exaggerated in America by the absence of “a clearly defined cultural elite.” If one existed, the masses could have mass culture and the elite could have high culture. However, without a cultural elite, America, he claimed, was under threat from a Gresham’s Law of culture: the bad would drive out the good; the result would be not just a homogeneous culture but a “homogenized culture…that threatens to engulf everything in its spreading ooze” turning the American people into infantile masses. Dwight Macdonald’s view was wholly pessimistic, and the Macarthy-ite tendencies of his thinking are obvious: what he really feared was a kind of Sovietisation of American culture. The essay is worth a read if you have time to dig it out. If you do, have a look at his method of argument. Does he produce evidence for any of his major assertions? A study of his assumptions would also be revealing.

Some more recent thinkers have suggested that the producers of mass culture have not to aim low so much as they have to aim at “average” taste; so that everybody is going to respond a bit, but nobody can really respond fully. Some have suggested that it’s all a question of patronage: i.e. whoever is footing the bill. With enlightened patrons you get Dante; with unenlightened patrons such as the Hollywood studios you get kitsch.

Cultural impoverishment remains the seemingly unavoidable bottom line for such theorists; Mass culture is not only is bad in itself, but it constitutes a mortal danger [quite how is usually not specified] to folk culture and to high art. [So there’s a strand of argument here in which we see “genuine” popular culture and false and insidious mass culture opposed.] Mass culture isn’t “real” culture; it’s substitute culture and as such intrinsically enervating and inferior.

There is nowadays a wide range of views on the subject. The commentator Ernest van den Haag sees the phenomenon as ultimately repressive: “The result is a nightmare in which the cultural “masturbator” or the “addict” of mass culture is trapped in a cycle of non-fulfillment, moving aimlessly between boredom and distraction.”

The sociologist and historian of science, Edward Shils, takes a historical view, saying, in so many words “if you think what the common people consume today is bad, oh boy you should see what they used to consume in the past.” He sees it as less degrading, less brutalising than formerly. So, I suppose we could call this the relativist argument. Shils continues that culture is not divided simply into high and low; but high, middle and low, and that it’s the middle bit that’s alarming.

Leslie Fiedler countered Macdonald’s un-American activities argument saying “popular culture un-American? Hell, we invented it”, or words to that effect, and if it is brutal and mindless that is because so is contemporary life for the majority of our fellow citizens, so there’s a sense in which it is in an odd way, truthful. Anyway it’s an inevitable outcome of industrialisation, mass education and democracy. If you’re against mass culture, you must logically be against the things that inevitably produce it. And Fiedler thinks few of the opposing critics would go that far. He says “the fear of the vulgar is the obverse of the fear of excellence, and both are aspects of the fear of difference”.

This reflects what might be called the patriotic argument which says, roughly “well OK, we have popular culture, but it’s American popular culture, and if we do it right, we can make it the best popular culture the world has ever seen.”

So we see then that “popular culture” can mean three different subtly inflected things:

  1. the “folk” culture of the common people: generated by themselves outside the control of their masters and, hence, intrinsically pure, innocent, and benign
  2. “popular culture” used in a merely descriptive way to identify the broad common strands of interest and enjoyment, knowledge and activity that run through every level of society at any given time
  3. “mass culture”, a kind of mindless and debasing pap imposed by the boss class which is not only intrinsically bad and worthless, but also culturally invasive, tending not only to propagate itself virulently but also to attack and destroy high culture in any society.

John Storey’s Cultural Theory and Popular Culture (2000) is a useful guide if you are interested further.

Rondina, Christopher. Vampires of New England. On Cape Publications, 2007. ISBN: 9780978576646.

Rather odd, amateurish book, comprising a series of vampire tales loosely based on historic reports and dramatised with dialogue by the author; plus a couple of big newspaper articles on the phenomenon and a medical paper tracing the physiological roots of what the ignorant call ‘vampirism’. The bottom line is that there was a lot of consumption in New England, and when somebody died of it, and later members of the same family also fell victim, it was supposed that the earlier deceased was a ‘vampire’ and was draining the blood and vitality of the living members of the family. So the neighbours, usually accompanied by selectmen and local physicians, would dig up the suspect, and if any trace of vitality, health, or blood was found, the heart would be removed and burnt. Sometimes the whole body would be burnt.

Usefully, however, he reprints George R. Stetson’s ‘The Animistic Vampire in New England’, originally published in The American Anthropologist in January 1896. Stetson says ‘The belief in the vampire and the whole family of demons has its origin in the animism, spiritualism, or personification of the barbarian, who, unable to distinguish the objective from the subjective, ascribes good and evil influences and all natural phenomena to good and evil spirits’ (p. 9). Goes on to demonic possession and exorcism, adding that in Rabbinical tradition some demons were held to be corporate (p. 10). Evidently Tylor’s Primitive Religion mentions vampires (p. 11).

In New England the vampire superstition is unknown by its proper name. It is there believed that consumption is not a physical but a spiritual disease, obsession, or visitation; that as long as the body of a dead consumptive relative has blood in its heart it is proof that an occult influence steals from it for death and is at work draining the blood of the living into the heart of the dead and causing his rapid decline. (p. 12)

Stetson continues, ‘Calmet declares his belief to be that the vampires of Europe and the broucolaques of Greece are the excommunicated, which the grave rejects. They are the dead of a longer or shorter time who leave their tombs to torment the living, sucking their blood and announcing their appearance by rattling of doors and windows’ (p. 13). There is a reference here in Stetson that evidently there were vampires in England: ‘William of Malmsbury says that “in England they believed that the wicked came back after death by the will of the devil”’ (p. 15). [Although, to be sure this does not quite amount to vampirism per se]

Stetson then recounts the various traditional ways of destroying vampires (p. 16) and appeals to the doctrine of ‘survivals’ without quite calling it that (p. 17). Stetson goes on to give examples of typical New England vampire belief and practice drawn from Rhode Island.  Stetson goes on to urge cremation as a general practice as a certain means of abolishing this practice as well as ensuring that premature burial is avoided. Chapter 5 gives a lengthy example of a typical New England case in connection with the Corwin family of Vermont, in 1830; one noticeable feature is that this was no hole-in-corner work: it was witnessed deliberately by leading representative citizens and the doctor who attended was eminent in his profession (pp. 53–62).

Although Rondina does not bring out this point strongly enough, being basically a romancer, his researches seem to indicate that the whole thing is a fable: there was no Corwin family recorded in other sources in the period concerned.

The term vampirism has also entered the psychiatric literature to explain pathologic behaviors similar to those of the mythological vampire particularly ingestion of blood and necrophagic and cannibalistic activities [McCully, 1964; Prins, 1984; Vanden Bergh and Kelly, 1964—note, comprehensive sources are given in the notes to Chapter 6 in the Appendix pp. 169–70, and some of them look impeccably scholarly]. Clinical manifestation of erythropoietic protoporphyria, also known as Gunther’s Disease, and its variants have also been cited as an explanation for the vampire belief (Prins, 1985). This autosomal dominant disorder causes increased excretion of protoporphyrin and results in redness of the eyes and skin, a receding of the upper lip, and cracking of the skin when exposed to sunlight. (p. 64)

Rondina claims that Bram Stoker was influenced by the New England vampire stories when touring the States with Irving in 1896 (p. 114). Newport RI, [home of the jazz festival] seems to have been a particular centre. Reproduces, hopefully reasonably accurately, ‘The Vampire in Roumania’, an article by Dr. Agnes Murgoci, of 1927: ‘In Russia, Roumania, and the Balkan States there is an idea…that the soul does not finally leave the body and enter into Paradise until forty days after death…If decomposition is not then complete, it is supposed that the corpse is a vampire;’ (p. 124). She continues ‘A typical vampire of the reanimated-corpse type may have the attributes of a lover, as in Scott’s William and Helen’ (p. 125).

Has a chapter, ‘Darker Shadows: Yankee Vampires on the Silver Screen’ pp. 135–140 [indicating that the Hollywood vampire movie may to some extent be drawing on a native tradition] and discusses the celebrated 1960s TV series Dark Shadows about vampires in Connecticut. Apparently it ran to 1,225 episodes, and some idea of its flavour can be gathered from the film version House of Dark Shadows (p. 136).

He moves on to Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. In a chapter ‘Medicine, Monster, and Madness: Scientific theories on the Vampire Legend’, (pp. 141–144) he discusses porphyria, some of whose symptoms produce a number of vampire-like effects. Moves on to a poem about New England vampires by Amy Lowell, 1926. Rhode Island seems to be the heartland of the phenomenon in the northeast states; and the northeast states themselves seem to be about the only place in the US where the belief took root. H. P. Lovecraft came from New England and knew the old stories. [The obvious thing to have done here, and it was not done by Rondina, was to look at immigration patterns: where did these people come from? Were they recent immigrants, and if so, from where?]

[Although I don’t think Rondina mentions this, there is an interesting parallel: a New England vampire story, ‘Luella Miller’ (1903) by Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman. This affects to be the reminiscences of an old local New England woman, and it is full of local vernacular expressions. Luella comes to the village as schoolmistress and soon people begin to ail and die, as you would expect. Luella throughout is linked with the colour green. This is quite nice, full of Yankee talk. Although everybody associated with Luella wastes away and dies, and she seems healthier the worse they look, she is never explicitly identified as a vampire. ‘Bewitched’ by Edith Wharton also has a snowy, New England, vampire setting. (See Skal, Vampires.) The Wharton story is classy stuff from a literary perspective, very Modernist in its technique without quite being Katherine Mansfield.]

Byron first dealt with the subject in The Giaour (1813):

But first on earth, as Vampyre sent,
Thy corse shall from its tomb be rent;
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And such the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet, which perforce
Must feed thy livid, living corse,
Thy victims, ere they yet expire,
Shall know the demon for their sire;
And cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are withered on the stem.

This poem is in the public domain.

[A quick look at The Giaour online shows a poem in rhyming couplets lamenting the fall of classical Greece and its descent into modern degeneracy; a giaour seems to be some kind of Greek laird, or landed gentleman].

Course Info

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Fall 2018
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