Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction

Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction

by Leonard Wolf
     
 

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In the past hundred years, since the publication of Bram Stoker's infamous book, no literary figure has enjoyed a more horrific resiliency than Count Dracula. In film, television, novels, and short stories, he keeps coming back to life, fed by the vital imaginative energies of a world-wide audience that cannot seem to resist his abominable charms. Aristocratic and

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Overview

In the past hundred years, since the publication of Bram Stoker's infamous book, no literary figure has enjoyed a more horrific resiliency than Count Dracula. In film, television, novels, and short stories, he keeps coming back to life, fed by the vital imaginative energies of a world-wide audience that cannot seem to resist his abominable charms. Aristocratic and urbane, deeply erotic and profoundly evil, Dracula's bloodsucking savagery has cast a mesmerizing fascination not only over his victims but over his readers as well. And, as Leonard Wolf suggests, "Vampire fiction...exerts an amazing pull on readers for a reason that we may find disturbing. The blood exchange—the taking of blood by the vampire from his or her victim is, all by itself, felt to be a singularly symbolic event. Symbolic and attractive!"
Now, in Blood Thirst: One Hundred Years of Vampire Fiction, Leonard Wolf brings together thirty tales in which vampires of all varieties make their ghastly presence felt—male and female, human and non-human, humorous and heroic—all of them kin to the dreadful bat. From Lafcadio Hearn, Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, Edith Wharton, August Derleth, and Ray Bradbury to such contemporary masters as Anne Rice, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, John Cheever, and Woody Allen, and in settings as diverse as rural New England and outer space, this collection offers readers a dazzling compendium of vampire stories. Wolf organizes the collection into six categories—The Classic Adventure Tale, The Psychic Vampire, The Science Fiction Vampire, The Non-Human Vampire, The Comic Vampire, and The Heroic Vampire—which allows readers to see the many guises Dracula's descendants have assumed and the many ways they can be interpreted. In his penetrating introduction, Wolf argues that such an arrangement enables us to see the evolution of the vampire from an unmitigated evil to a creature we are more likely to identify with. "In a century in which God and Satan have become increasingly irrelevant in the popular arts, there has been an accompanying secularization of the vampire idea. And, as the stories in Blood Thirst will show, sympathy for the vampire has grown as we have become increasingly interested in the workings of the mind." Indeed, the vampire's ability to change over time, to draw into itself such a richness of symbolic meanings, to conjure itself into so many diabolical shapes, may account for the enduring appeal of the literature written about it.
Here, then, is a definitive collection for aficionados and novices alike, and whether readers find the vampires who inhabit these pages sympathetic or horrific, psychologically intriguing or spiritually repellent, morbidly seductive or comically absurd, Blood Thirst gives us all something to sink our teeth into.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A roundup of over two dozen vampire tales illustrating the evolution of the genre since Bram Stoker, gathered by Wolf, our tireless annotator of terrorlit (Dracula, p. 372, etc.).

What, Wolf asks, makes vampires so attractive today? He notes in his cogent Introduction that vampire tales draw from the gruesome in mainstream horror, the pulsing eroticism of bodice rippers, the supernatural in sword-and-sorcery. But blood is the primary metaphor, Wolf says, drawing on folk knowledge and traditions from Cain and Abel to Christ and transubstantiation, while the modern blood exchange brings on a kind of sexual dream- bliss beyond the facts of intercourse. Illustrating the classic adventure tale is Wolf's exciting excerpt from Stephen King's only vampire novel, Salem's Lot (1975), with good guy Mark versus a whole townful of bloodsuckers. Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman's "Luella Miller" draws the "psychological vampire" as a thief of energy rather than a blood drinker. The science-fiction vampire in C.L. Moore's "Shambleau" indulges in monstrous, slimy couplings, while the immortal woman in the excerpt from Whitley Streiber's erotically powerful "The Hunger" blesses her victims with lives that last for 200 years. The nonhuman vampire in Hanns Heinz Ewers's "The Spider," a beautiful woman in a window, hypnotizes her victims into the supreme delight of suicide (she is, literally, a spider). The heroic vampire in Anne Rice's "The Master of Rampling Gate" remains invisible except to the heroine. Also on hand: Joyce Carol Oates, John Cheever, and E.F. Benson. And don't miss Woody Allen's "Count Dracula."

A bedtime book with a bite to it.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195115932
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/28/1997
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.50(d)

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