“Today the vampire is undoubtedly a major cultural icon. Present in breakfast foods, comics, television series, computer games, feature films, and books from academic studies to best-selling novels, the vampire hovers over society like Yeats’s “rough beast, its hour come round at last.” While many readers may be familiar with leading figures like Dracula and Lestat, few are aware of the range and variety of the vampire legacy that stretches from the early nineteenth century through the end of the twentieth–and beyond. The essays in this volume use a humanistic viewpoint to explore the evolution and significance of the vampire in literature from the Romantic era to the millennium.
The nineteenth-century engendered aristocratic but parasitic vampires like Lord Ruthven and Carmilla Karnstein, and the century ended with the creation of Dracula, whose enduring popularity confirmed humanity’s fascination with vampire mythology. Now, more than one hundred years later, the vampire has proliferated in literature in a variety of guises–some antagonistic, some heroic, and many falling into a fascinating “in between.” If Stephen King’s Kurt Barlow is still a monstrous villain and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Saint-Germain a true hero, then Anne Rice’s re-coded vampires, Fred Saberhagen’s re-created Dracula, S. P. Somtow’s fragmented Timmy Valentine, and Nancy A. Collins’s dangerous Sonja Blue are among those who seem both heroic and antagonistic. Like the ancient vampires of India (also examined in this volume), modern and postmodern literary vampires defy easy labels.
They also exist in alternate universes, in the reconfigured histories of George R. R. Martin’s Fevre Dream, Brian Stableford’s The Empire of Fear, and Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula, and in the science-fiction realm of Colin Wilson’s The Space Vampires. Moreover, literary vampires have often blurred the lines between masculine and feminine identities and have frequently served as emblems for social, sexual, and ethnic minorities who have been excluded from mainstream culture. Readers can find ample, if subtle, historical examples of such emblems in the female vamps who may be called the “Daughters of Lilith.” Today the vampires of Poppy Z. Brite, Tanith Lee, and of numerous collections of vampiric erotica present more explicit examples.
All these subjects–and others–can be found in this volume, which concludes with something for the reader who, like Oliver Twist, wants more: a core collection of vampire fiction and criticism. The editors and authors of The Blood Is the Life hope that readers will find this work worthwhile and that readers will, in turn, add their voices to future discussions of this undying archetype.” (description from Amazon.com)
Hardcover Info: ISBN 0879728035, Bowling Green State Univ., 1999