14 March 2010

Bloodlust: The Romance of the Vampire

Vampires have long held a fascination for us. Their popularity rose in the eighteenth century when the vampire legends of Eastern Europe became known to Western Europe. These mythological creatures that overcame death by sucking the blood from their sleeping victims were romanticized in the nineteenth century. Beginning with the short story The Vampyre by writer and physician John William Polidori (1795 – 1821), the vampire evolved in English literature from a folkloric to an aristocratic being. Polidori, the son of an Italian émigré scholar and an English governess, was the personal doctor of Lord Byron during a trip through Europe. While staying at TheVilla Diodati in Lake Geneva they were joined by Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her fiancé Percy Bysshe Shelley. It was during this Year Without a Summer while forced inside by bad weather they shared ghost stories and laudanum. Mary Shelly would go on to write Frankenstein, Polidori who was paintedby F.G. Gainsford was not as successful. He died at the age of twenty-six an apparent suicide. He would never know his extremely talented niece and nephews: Christina Georgina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Michael Rossetti. Christina is remembered for her haunting poetry, Dante and William for their contributions to the Pre-Raphaelites. Sir Philip Burne-Jones, 2nd Baronet (1861–1926), son of Pre-Raphaeliteartist Sir Edward Burne-Jones painted a female vampire attacking an unconscious man. Whereas Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) painted a sleeping woman succumbing to her own vampiric nightmares.

8 comments:

  1. ...ah, yes, vampires are ever so inspiring...need we say more?
    S+S

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  2. It is always so good to hear from you S+S! I loved your post on black which was my favorite color as a child....need I say more? Kendra

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  3. the gathering on Lake Geneva that summer one can only imagine. It is the quest for eternal youth we crave-chasing it in different ways, some with a scapel, some with bloodlines. I am enjoying your blog immensely. pgt

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  4. Yes one can only imagine the incessant rain and poor young Polidori being tormented by the jaded Byron. At least he gained his immortality through his writings and the Rossettis' accomplishments. I always enjoy your esoteric musings. Kendra

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  5. Dearest Kendra -- Fascinating posting about vampires. Walter Kuhlman, whose art collection and legacy I am shepherding since his death, was likewise very compelled by the apparent dichotomy between life and death. In his Sausalito studio, I have several oils and monotypes depicting this interest. Also, for those interested in the genre, there is a Danish movie out on DVD now, "Let the Right One In," about a young boy, bullied by classmates, who meets a young 12 year old girl who is a vampire. These child actors are fabulous, and this girl feels like she really is hundreds of years old -- she is so world-weary, it's quite poignant. I highly recommend it, even though the adult actors are pretty bad. The story line is fresh and the children are fabulous. Amy Zwicker

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  6. Amy~ Thank you so much for your insights. Kendra

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  7. I am reading, at this time Robert Lewis Stevenson's story Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It has a history of a person, who can enter into another. The Body Snatchers et al. So this moves on towards Dracula, The Mark of Zorro, --dark sexuality---Frederick March plays the two selves throughout the film which moved through powerful animalism and perversity. Dead or Alive "bodies" enter the bodies of another person, Vampires meant a lot to RLS and of course all the rest of us as well.

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  8. Dear Anonymous, Thank you for giving us a Jungian take on the Vampire and I will have to read again the great Scottish writer. Kendra

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