Vampires in 19th century literature

Discussion on any 19th century written works by authors other than Hugo.
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Vampires in 19th century literature

Postby Rose1836 » Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:41 pm

King of 19th century vampires was, of course, Lord Ruthven, who first appeared in the 1819 short story "The Vampyre". This had been written in 1816 by Dr. John William Polidori,physician of Byron's, and it was published in the April 1819 edition of The New Monthly Magazine. The publishers falsely attributed the authorship to Byron. Both Byron and Polidori disputed this attribution, but the name of the work's protagonist, "Lord Ruthven", added to this assumption, for that name was originally used in Lady Caroline Lamb's novel Glenarvon (from the same publisher), in which a thinly-disguised Byron figure was also a villain named Lord Ruthven.

The story has its genesis in the summer of 1816, when Europe and parts of North America underwent a severe climate abnormality. Lord Byron and his young physician John Polidori were staying at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva and were visited by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and Mary´s half-sister Claire Clairmont. Kept indoors by the rain over three days in June the five turned to telling fantastical tales, and then writing their own. Fueled by ghost stories and laudanum, Mary Shelley, in collaboration with Percy Bysshe Shelley, produced what would become Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Polidori was inspired by a fragmentary story of Byron's, Fragment of a Novel (1816), also known as "A Fragment" and "The Burial: A Fragment", and wrote"The Vampyre".]

The story was an immediate success and several other authors quickly adapted the character of Lord Ruthven into other works. Cyprien Bérard wrote an 1820 novel, Lord Ruthwen ou les Vampires, which was falsely attributed to Charles Nodier. Nodier himself wrote an extremely popular 1820 play, Le Vampire, which was Twilight of it´s day and adapted back into English for the London stage by James Robinson Planché as The Vampire, or The Bride of the Isles. At least four other stage versions of the story also appeared in 1820.

In 1828, composer Heinrich August Marschner and libretist W. A. Wohlbrück adapted the story into a German opera, Der Vampyr. A second German opera with the same title was written in 1828 by composer Peter Josef von Lindpaintner and libretist Cäsar Max Heigel, but the vampire in Hegel´s opera was named Aubri, not Ruthven. Dion Boucicault revived the character in his 1852 play The Vampire: A Phantasm, and played the title role during its long run. Alexandre Dumas, père (who wrote wonderful vampire story Pale lady, set in the Carpathian mountains) used Ruthven in his superb 1852 play (my favorite version, which featured memorable female vampire Ziska).

A Lord Ruthven also appeared in the Swedish novel Vampyren (1848), the first published work by author and poet Viktor Rydberg; as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that he is inspired by him in name only. This Ruthven is actually no supernatural being at all, but a man believing himself to be a vampire.

"La Morte Amoureuse" is a short story by Théophile Gautier, published in La Chronique de Paris in 1836. It tells the story of a young Catholic priest named Romuald who falls in love/lust with Clarimonde, an unbelievably beautiful woman who turns out to be a vampire. (A bit like Twilight, but much more entertaining!)

Carmilla is a 1872 novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, mixing pretty effectively Gothic romanticism and authentic Middle- and Eastern European vampire lore: Carmilla is rosy-cheeked, not pale, her skin is warm and her heart beats, she sleeps in her grave and walks in the daylight.

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Re: Vampires in 19th century literature

Postby Gervais » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:09 pm

So I read Carmilla yesterday, loved the story, and thought the ending was way too simple (though it's a novella that was supposed to be in a collection of like five stories, so I'm not sure what I was really expecting there). But there's a webseries that's based on it, and I really like what I've seen so far. It's loosely based, but still.

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Re: Vampires in 19th century literature

Postby RoseMarieIsSuzette » Sat Dec 13, 2014 2:23 pm

I liked Carmilla, especially the ending, but not the webseries. :D However, there are some adaptations I really like: Blood and roses, The vampire lovers, and 1989 Carmilla.
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