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Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker

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--- Quote from: hedgehobbit on July 09, 2022, 11:00:27 AM ---
--- Quote from: Reckall on July 08, 2022, 08:42:36 PM ---The surprising thing is that Dracula is considered "the father of modern vampire stories" when about 25 years earlier Sheridan Le Fanu published "Carmilla", a very powerful novella about a female vampire. And while Dracula can be considered as the "shadow" of Victorian moralism (he is, after all, a dude who ruins beautiful damsels by entering their room at night and sucking their necks...), Carmilla already went further by implying strong lesbian desires by the vampire for the protagonist. It is impossible not to see the influence that Le Fanu had on Stoker, and yet the former's work is almost forgotten.

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Dracula is much longer and better written than Carmilla although Carmilla does stick with some of the older folklore about vampires such as them biting the chest instead of the neck and the vampire's coffin being buried underground (and the vampire's ability to walk through walls to get in and out of their coffins).

But I don't think it is controversial to say that Dracula's popularity is primarily based on the success of the movie adaptions. IMO, the choice of Dracula over Carmilla is primarily due to the fact that Dracula is a much better villain than Carmilla/Mircalla. Mainly because Dracula is a fully grown man, which is much more threatening than Carmilla who appears to be a teenage girl. This is amplified how Carmilla isn't a hideous monster but is said to remain beautiful even when they dig her up at the end of the story. She is quickly and coldly dispatched.

Now compare Carmilla's end with the staking of Lucy in Hammer's first Dracula movie ...

and it's easy to see why Dracula is a more palatable story.

I'm afraid that Carmilla is doomed by it's association as being a "lesbian vampire" story (although I think this aspect of the story is overblown). The only people wanting to make such a movie are either smut merchants or people trying to push an agenda. Neither is good for a large box office.

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Yup.  Dracula was popular in its day.  The Victorian audience, especially the female audience, was far more interested in the idea of a rakishly handsome man taking them against their will (thus providing an excuse as to why they did not protect their virtue) than a female vampiric relationship.  Then, as today, lesbians are an exceedingly small part of the population.  And they didn't have a mass media conglomeration intent on pushing unprofitable ideas simply for ideology's sake...

When reading "Dracula" today, we must remember that we perceive it very differently from readers who became acquainted with it shortly after its publication. And I don't mean changes in mores. For us it is obvious that Dracula=vampire. There is no surprise here. Meanwhile, at the time when Stoker wrote his book, the character of Dracula was not one of the pillars of horror, and tropes associated with vampires were not so widely known or "codified."


--- Quote from: Adeptus on August 02, 2022, 10:56:07 AM ---Meanwhile, at the time when Stoker wrote his book, the character of Dracula was not one of the pillars of horror, and tropes associated with vampires were not so widely known or "codified."

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Paul Barber, an anthropologist, wrote a book called Vampires, Burial, and Death about the history of vampires. He collaborated with folklorists and medical doctors. In the book, he catalogs several accounts of vampires; the earliest from 1592 with most from the 1700s. By the 1700s, vampires stories had spread around Europe and most of the accounts from that date were written by travelers going to the vampire's location to record the events. Because of some technical details, many of these accounts appear to be based on actual, first hand knowledge.

The traits of vampires that are known to be scientifically accurate are;

-Lying in their coffins with no smell and the body still flexible. The hair and nails have grown.
-Blood is dripping from their mouths and they seem plump and "healthy". Often looking better than when alive.
-When staked, they will scream and blood will splatter out of the body.

All of these things are based on the knowledge of how a human body can decompose in certain conditions. Gas builds up in the abdomen and when stakes, that gas is released causing a "screaming" noise and blood splatter. This decomposition is why staking and water are associated with vampire. If you drive a spike into a grave and pour water into the hole thus created, the water will accelerate the decomposition and "prevent" the body from turning into a vampire.

Other things common in these stories that match current day lore are:

-Victims of vampires will be healthy people that die suddenly, often within a day or so of sickness.
-These victims will, themselves, become vampire.

To destroy a vampire it isn't sufficient to simply stake it. In almost all cases, the body is dismembered and the parts are burned. This is the fate of Carmilla.

From this point, much of the history disagrees with modern lore. Firstly, vampires were more similar to ghosts, often visiting and talking to relatives in the night. In one case, the villagers dug up a vampire and put his body under guard yet the killings continued. Also, the biting of the neck was not present. Instead the vampire killed its victims mainly by strangling them in their sleep. It appears that the "blood sucking" was just metaphorical.

Another commonality was the original vampire became so often because he had been murdered or, worse, committed suicide. And you could also become a vampire if you eat the meat of an animal killed by a vampire.

It is an interesting book for anyone looking for ideas to put into a game though I will say that it is written in a academic tone that is often hard to get through.


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