This dissertation traces the establishment of the vampire on the English stage and in the English consciousness, tracing the vampire figure through its various incarnations from Lord Ruthven to Count Dracula and beyond. Doctoral Thesis: The Vampire in Popular Fiction The thesis traces the development of the vampire figure in popular fiction, from its first appearance in English fiction to the present day, by examining a series of representative texts in chronological order.
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All vampire stories are necessarily fiction but some have been told as a record of actual experience. I do not explore these in detail, but I include a consideration of such portions of vampire tradition as have been available to writers of English fiction. The vampire film, which is inextricably involved with vampire fiction has also made an important contribution to vampire traditions and although it is impossible to study the vampire film in depth in a thesis which is primarily devoted to prose fiction I look at the more influential films, especially those from the Hammer canon, and at the contribution from the vampire-theatre.
I also include a consideration of the various proto-vampires of history, tradition and literature, figures which, while they cannot themselves be identified as vampires, have contributed to the characteristics of the vampire-figure. Because I feel that the blood-sucking element in the vampire is extremely important, forming a complex web of associations both with eroticism and food, I also give some attention to the associations of blood and drinking in popular tradition. The main argument of the thesis is that the vampire, being essentially a construct, like the little vampire doll which sparked my initial interest, and having no essential reality like Stoker's Dracula, the vampire stands before the mirror, but has no reflection, allowing the reader or spectator to insert any images he pleases so the vampire image can be repeatedly reconstructed and deconstructed in text after text.
Often the vampire is reconstructed in the image of the author's own interests or anxieties: Polidori's sexual anxieties, and literary jealousy produce Lord Ruthven, Stoker's fin de siecle pre-occupations with the perceived break-down of barriers, between human and animal, man and woman, Rice's vampires caught in a perfect stasis reflecting, perhaps, our current obsessions with youth and bodily perfection.
Perhaps because the vampire is used as a vehicle for our obsessions there is also a tendency to misread existing texts, wrenching them to fit current theories in a way which borders on an actual re-writing of the text. For this reason I try to examine my chosen texts carefully, stripping away the accretions of misreading and misunderstanding to see how the vampire continues to represent humanity.
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LADY STANHOPE'S MANUSCRIPT Barbara Roden (ed) ASH-TREE PRESS TP fine
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Lady Stanhopes Manuscript Supernatural Tales Ash Tree by Roden Barbara
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