Saturday, April 15, 2017
What Is It, With The Irish And Vampires??????????????????
The Gold Standard of vampire literature is, of course, Bram Stoker's "Dracula." Who can forget that classic scene of the distraught mother, on her knees before the castle door, fists banging, as she implores wildly, "Monster, give me my child????"
Bram Stoker was Irish born. So, too, I discovered was Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, though the name sounds French. Now, being of Irish descent makes me wonder about my own propensities--for the Gothic and supernatural, for serial killers, for the paranormal. Maybe I am just genetically wired for it all. Now, if only I could write something of the quality of these two works.
"Dracula," with that passage alone, must have shocked readers, when it first appeared. But "Carmilla," less shocking, but with a haunting, poetic lyricism, worthy of Mario Bava's "Black Sunday," covers hitherto unexplored territory, in a subtle and ambiguous manner.
"The name is an anagram." Who can forget that line, from Ira Levin's "Rosemary's Baby?" Except, I think Levin cribbed it from "Carmilla." Not that he was plagiarizing--Levin was too brilliant for that. But in writing his Satanic classic, Levin did a great deal of research, or maybe he had a vested interest in the horror genre, himself. And that would have led him to "Carmilla." I am certain he was influenced by this. How about Terry Gionoffrio? She could have been related to "Carmilla," too.
There are two anagrams to the name "Carmilla." I leave them for you to figure out.
Le Fanu's prose style has the stark, black-and-white vision of a Mario Bava film, which kept me going back to "Black Sunday." If only Bava had gotten his hands on this novel, to film! Imagine Barbara Steele, in the title role! But then, Asa, is not that far removed from "Carmilla."
Neither is Emily/Abigail in "Let's Scare Jessica To Death!" Now, I see the similarity of this alleged cult classic to "Carmilla." The physical and psychological tug-of war, between the supernatural being and Jessica,(Zohra Lampert) though it turns campy, is metaphorically similar to what happens, when Carmilla visits the countryside
Carmilla is a beautiful young woman, who drains young women of their vital life essences, in order that she can stay the same. She inflicts pestilence within the villages she visits, deceiving the populace that a mysterious plague has invaded the land. But when Carmilla visits her soul mate, Laura, and Laura's father, and his friend, a general (who has also mysteriously lost his daughter, who is about Laura's age) recognize their common experiences and connections, it does not take long for them to figure things out, and action to be taken.
But the writing is riveting. I did not want this Gothic novella to end. Reading "Carmilla" is like being trapped in a haunting, fever dream, and Le Fanu, like Carmilla herself, seduces the reader in wanting to stay in this dream.
Better not to. Lesbians, vampires--it is all too much!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And to think I read this, during Holy Week! I didn't plan it that way, dolls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!