The autumn air is becoming crisp causing a quickening in your step as you race to your car in the dying light. Sunlight that is dying a little earlier each night. They can now creep out, but do you notice?
“There are mysteries which men can only guess at, which age by age they may solve only in part.” —Bram Stoker
Notions of Vampires or blood drinking are everywhere! You can find vampire myths and legends across all cultures, but we can thank amazing writers like Bram Stoker and Dr. John Polidori, author of The Vampyre, for unlocking a new world for our imaginations to roam. Bram’s main man or muse, if you please, Ernst Benjamin Salomo Raupach, author of “Wake Not the Dead!” needs a little recognition. Sadly, Ernst got overlooked due to his work being translated into English and authorship is attributed to Johann Ludwig Tieck. What a gyp!
Unfortunately these beloved legends, myths, and stories were mostly early attempts at explaining disease, lack of medical knowledge, and misunderstandings about remote tribes and rural communities. It was pretty easy for the public to turn to the supernatural for answers.
Rural farming communities like those in Transylvania were prime spots for vampire folklore to develop, especially with unresearched disorders like porphyria. This is a terrifying disorder that affects the hemoglobin in your blood making you sensitive to light and your gums recede to reveal a far toothier appearance than is natural.
Let’s not forget the devastation from sun exposure that had the potential to cause sufferers to lose their ears and noses. This unforgettable likeness was, not surprisingly, the inspiration for illustrations of vampires like Nosferatu.
Other factors such as lack of variety in diet caused deficiencies commonly resulting in changes of physical and mental health as well as frequent cases of rabies leading many to believe their loved ones had turned vampire. Oh, and the living were often buried alive due to things like catalepsy. Who needs science or an education, hello Dark Ages… ick.
These chaotic times slid right into the “Age of Enlightenment” where vampire sightings, grave diggings, and stakings were at an all-time high. Sounds crazy, but exciting at the same time, right? Maybe, that’s just me.
So, what makes these terrifying otherworldly beings so damn alluring?
The idea of vampires was one of my first “loves”. Of course, my obsession started with Dracula. Shape-shifting, supernatural strength and powers, a love that can’t be marred by time, and immortality are definitely high on my list of fantasies.
However, If you happen to be “Team Edward” you may want to stop reading now before I break your heart. Flat out. Deep Breath. Twilight sucked! #sorrynotsorry
For me, and no doubt many others, the mystery, the fear, the vulnerability, and superstition allows us to delight in this darker side of fiction. Hence, why the entirety of Twilight completely fails! I don’t want to get caught up on how vampires and humans play nice and fall in love. I want the conflict! Give me drama!
Let me escape this mundane, safe world and enter one I have no place in being…or returning from.
For me, Twilight was like junk food. I’m guilty! I read the whole series and watched all the movies. I truly wanted to embrace this new rendition. It felt as though the ‘awe’ was taken out of how awesome vampires are, and now I’m left with ‘some’ vampire story that appeals mostly to broody teens. Hey, I gave it chance, but I just couldn’t sink my teeth in (ha!) like I did with the vampire classics: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles or dare I say, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Series.
Now, I am not solely picking on Twilight (okay maybe I am a little). There’s definitely no shortage of great authors that have written vampire stories that I’m not going to mention, because simply put, they weren’t that memorable. I picked Twilight because it is so well known and is extremely easy to find polarizing opinions.
When I read about these supernatural phenomenons, I can feel Rice’s Louis, from The Vampire Chronicles, with his internal conflict where he agonizes whether or not his soul is damned or if he even has a soul. Marius, ancient and powerful, but not the eldest of his kind, has taken me across centuries of pain where only he is allowed and cursed to harbor his origin’s ancient secrets. He’s a knight of the shadows that swoops in when younger, lesser vampires are in need, and then vanishes without a trace.
Then there’s Lestat, anti hero and narrator for the majority of The Vampire Chronicles and other Anne Rice novels. He is uninhibited, loveable, yet incorrigible. I want to live on the edge with Lestat and have him tease me with lofty notions of travel and wealth beyond my imagination only to be escorted down a lavish hall to never return to the land of the living.
“The vampires have always been metaphors for me. They’ve always been vehicles through which I can express things I have felt very, very deeply.” — Anne Rice.
With Dracula, I can feel Jonathan Harker’s panic and ultimate fear when the Count rushes towards him after blood trickles down his neck from shaving.
The fact that Dracula unabashedly embraces his dark gift is something to not just fear, but revere. It’s one thing to have to come to grips with what you’ve become, but to scheme and revel in your adversity is an undeniably powerful and admirable talent, even if it is malevolent.
These, my friends, are the sacred moments where I stop being a reader, and I’ve transported myself into a character or some part of the story. I believe good writing can achieve this.
Okay… Back to my junk food analogy. Dracula is like a 5-course meal while Twilight is binge eating Doritos and Pixy Stix. Both fill the void, but only one really leaves you with an unforgettable, satisfying experience. (hint…It isn’t Twilight.)
Stephanie Meyer, though bold and creative in her attempts, does an injustice to the vampire-loving community by “humanizing” her vampires and clutching to notions of adolescence and immature love in order to carve out a younger fan base.
Meyers constructs her own vampire mythology with the Volturi and their attempts at world domination, feuds with other covens such as the Cullens, and the rapid onset of supernatural powers upon vampire ‘birth’. Not bad, but it truly feels like we are pandering to the wishes of teenage angst and infatuation.
Don’t get me wrong, who isn’t captivated by a sparkly diamond daylight vampire that adores only you and would risk his own immortality just to keep you safe, and well, human. What a guy?
I don’t want vampires to be more “real” or integrated into everyday society. I believe we are so fascinated by vampires because they are different, mysterious, and dangerous. They represent the less desirable and unaccepted facets of our thoughts and feelings. I’d rather explore harrowing, otherworldly fiction than writing that spoon feeds me predictable resolution. Let’s leave vampire mythology to the adults, shall we?
What are your thoughts on Vampire stories? Are you a fan of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion. #vampiresarestillcool