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Conference paper

From Folklore to Fiction: Early Literary Manifestations of the Vampire Motif

Tatjana Bacovsky ; University of Vienna


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Abstract

Starting with the first mention of the term ‘vampire’ in the 11th century, this paper will follow the development of the vampire concept from Slavic folklore to the canonisation of the literary vampire motif with Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula. For this purpose, the key elements of the theme, such as supernatural strengths and weaknesses, will be analysed in the first literary manifestations of the lore, starting with Byron’s 1816 A Fragment of a Novel and Polidori’s 1819 The Vampyre, continuing with Varney the Vampire by an unidentified author, Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Hare’s The Vampire of Croglin Hall, and ending with Stoker’s Dracula. The key elements will then be contrasted with their equivalents from the folkloric vampire myth, revealing significant differences. Literary vampires evolved from the mute and mindless corpses of Slavic villagers to cunning aristocrats with a sinister agenda, who prefer to drain the blood of beautiful young girls instead of randomly killing their fellow villagers. These changes can be attributed to the scapegoat quality inherent to the vampire motif: from the height of the vampire phobia in 18th century Serbia to 19th century vampire literature and the current vampire craze, vampires have always represented a society’s deepest fears. Whereas Slavic villagers were so terrified of epidemics that they blamed their own dead, Victorians projected their fear of noblemen suppressing the masses and their mistrust of anything sexual upon their favourite fictional foes. Contemporarily, the suspicion of the monster within ourselves is only beginning to be explored, promising many more years of vampire lore to come.

Keywords

vampire fiction, folklore, Dracula

Hrčak ID:

200179

URI

https://hrcak.srce.hr/200179

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