doctorbluesmanreturns  asked:

Five obscure Victorian or Gothic novels that no one ever talks about and you think need to be better known?

I need to delve a lot more into the early Anne Radcliffe era of gothic novels.  If any of my followers can rec stuff from that period (@atundratoadstool , @chthonic-cassandra , anyone?) then I will take them as recommendations as well!  Heck, recommend gothics from any historical period that I’ve overlooked and I’ll try to read them!

In no particular order…

The Beetle.  There’s a whole host of messy sexual and racial issues to unpack here, but it’s Dracula with bugs and one of the heroes is basically Doctor Doom and it’s just about peak gothic weirdness.

A Long Fatal Love Chase.  This one starts as a pulpy melodrama, then abruptly pulls the rug from under you and is a serious, terrifying portrayal of an abusive relationship where the villain and the heroine do love each other but it just doesn’t matter because he’s still tormenting her.  And nobody will get out of it alive.

Speaking of which, Louisa May Alcott’s short gothic stories in general are worth seeking out, especially Perilous Play, which was the inspiration for own story Affable Stoner Jonathan Harker.  There are a couple of collections out there, only one of which I’ve gotten ahold of, but I’m still trying!

Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal was the basis for two popular adaptations (Kind Hearts and Coronets and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) but is itself fairly obscure.  It’s a lot darker and nastier than the derivative works, but if I had my way the titular antihero would stand beside Dorian Grey and Lord Ruthven as one of the sickest, most compelling awful men in gothic fiction.  (Yes, I named my Fallen London character after him.  She’s going to be his great aunt.)

I’m not sure it really counts as obscure, but I’m going to include La Morte Amoureuse anyway.  It’s a sad, sexy vampire story from before sad, sexy vampires were the common denominator, and it’s a shame there haven’t been any adaptations (to my knowledge.)

Je te jetai un regard où je mis tout l'amour que j'avais eu, que j'avais et que je devais avoir pour toi; un regard à damner un cardinal, à faire agenouiller un roi à mes pieds devant toute sa cour.
—  Théophile Gautier (La Morte Amoureuse)
Oui, j'ai aimé comme personne au monde, d'un amour insensé et furieux, si violent que je suis étonné qu'il n'ait pas fait éclater mon coeur
—  La morte amoureuse - Théophile Gautier

a-nom-de-plume  asked:

As someone familiar with vampire literature, what signs would you point out as clear indicators that a certain character is a vampire?

Okay (*cracks knuckles and gets ready for a long post*) I’m going to make the assumption from your username and use of the word “character” that this is a question about vampiric traits you can either incorporate into your writing as an author or identify in the fiction of others as a reader. If it isn’t and you like… need to make a call on your creepy next door neighbor who is never around during the day and hisses uncontrollably whenever they pass the church down the block, you should probably get off the Internet and contact your local eccentric ex-priest/librarian or something.

Moving on, though, the big thing about determining what traits a vampiric character might have lies with exactly what type of vampire they are and what aspects of vampirism are being emphasized in a narrative. I don’t think any set of traits will ever be 100% “clear” signs, as folklore and literary traditions regarding vampires can be incredibly inconsistent and contradictory. Depending on what you’re reading, vampires may have a ruddy complexion or be deathly pale; they may cause dogs to go silent or they may cause dogs to howl; they may achieve their final rest through marriage or be under compulsion to get married to prolong their unlife. Furthermore, a single vampiric trait may be written in different ways depending on who is doing the writing. For example, there are a lot of stories about vampires being repelled by certain classes of plants. For Paul Barber, who comes at the issue as a folklorist/historian, these plants are significant because many of them have thorns in which a rising vampire could become entangled and thereby be stopped; for my friend who is writing interactive fiction regarding vampires, these plants are important because some of them are still green in the winter, and thereby symbolize an overabundance of life which repels the undead; for me, back when I ran a very Catholic-flavored Vampire: The Masquerade game, these plants were significant because several of them have legends claiming that they were the wood from which the true cross was built. These sorts of things can work in a ton of different ways, and with that in mind, I’m going to try to break them down into broad categories, based on what traits might be useful for emphasizing certain types of vampires

Compulsions: Good for emphasizing vampires as condemned former humans, as entities tied to certain aspects of their pasts, or as static creatures locked into certain modes of behavior

  • Vampires must always use some variant on their real name (Carmilla, all those spin-offs of Dracula where he calls himself “Alucard”)
  • Vampires must always tell their life’s story to their lovers, although they may frame their tale as being about somebody else (Paul Feval’s La Vampire)
  • Vampires must marry and drain virgins to prolong their lives or may attain rest through being married… making them want to marry people a lot (numerous plays based on John Polidori’s “The Vampyre”, Étienne-Léon de Lamothe-Langon’s La Vampire, Varney the Vampire)
  • Vampires must steal people’s hair to continue to look youthful… making them look like they’re dying it a lot (La Ville-Vampire which is like… super weird)
  • Vampires must stop to count spilled seeds, knots in fishnets, or other groups of items (folklore… also Sesame Street)

Eerie Traits: Good for emphasizing vampires as creepy, unnatural, or just “wrong”

  • Vampires have glowing eyes or bodies (La Ville-Vampire, Dracula, probably some other stuff)
  • Vampires disturb or anger animals (“The Family of the Vourdalak”, Dracula)
  • Vampires have cold bodies and/or icy, unnaturally strong grips (“The Mysterious Stranger”, Carmilla, Dracula)
  • Vampires smell unnaturally good or unnaturally bad (“Wake not the Dead”, Dracula)
  • Vampires are really pale or have a ruddy, blood-tinged complexion (folklore, waaaay too many books for me to want to look up and list)
  • Vampires have some manner of unhealable wound from their days as a mortal (Étienne-Léon de Lamothe-Langon’s La Vampire, Varney the Vampire)

Religious Traits: Good for emphasizing vampires as condemned by God, inherently demonic, or cursed for their sins

  • Vampires cannot pray, use/touch holy symbols, enter churches, or are otherwise repulsed by holy symbols and holy things (“The Family of the Vourdalak”, Étienne-Léon de Lamothe-Langon’s La Vampire, “Le Morte Amoureuse”, Carmilla, Dracula)
  • In a manner similar to Mephistopheles and other devil figures, vampires cannot cross thresholds or enter dwellings without invitations or assistance (Dracula)
  • As with demons and evil spirits, vampires lose their power at the crowing of the cock… even if said cock does that thing from Hamlet and crows at night (Le Captaine Vampire, maybe Dracula)

Stuff Vampires Hate: Good for emphasizing vampire’s connection to folklore or removal from the everyday world of men

  • Vampires can be repulsed, stopped, or harmed by X plant, with X plant having the potential to be acacia, aspen, ash, blackthorn, hawthorn, garlic, juniper, linden, maple, oak, wild rose, rowan, or green shells from nuts (folklore regarding plant-based repellents, stake materials, and other vampire countermeasures, Dracula)
  • Vampires cannot cross running water, or will be rejected by bodies of water, or have to navigate bodies of water by floating around like they’re a plank (folklore, Varney the Vampire, La Ville-Vampire, Dracula)
  • Vampires are generally nocturnal and don’t want to be up during the day (folklore, waaaay too many books for me to want to look up and list)

Unrecordablity: All of this comes from Stoker; good for emphasizing vampires as soulless or in an unnatural state

  • Vampires do not show up in mirrors (Dracula)
  • Vampires cast no shadow (Dracula)
  • Vampires may not be photographed; your photographs either won’t show them or they will show up as a dead body (Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula)
  • Seriously, if you even try to paint a vampire, your painting will turn out wrong and look like someone else (Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula)

Werewolf Traits: There was something of a perception in the nineteenth century that vampires and werewolves were sort of the same thing, and Bram Stoker used a lot of stuff from Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Were-wolves in writing Dracula. These might be useful in creating vampire-werewolf hybrid characters or in emphasizing the animality and beast-like nature of vampires.

  • Werewolves/vampires have joined eyebrows (Dracula)
  • Werewolves/vampires have hair on their palms and pointed, talon-like nails (Dracula)
  • Werewolves/vampires can’t follow people into fields of rye (The notes and typescript for Dracula)

Other Stuff

  • Vampires are insensible to music (Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula)
  • Vampires can fit through tiny cracks and holes and may just show up places that they shouldn’t (folklore, Dracula)
  • Vampires can make themselves look young after feeding and may look like they got plastic surgery or something (“The Mysterious Stranger”, “The True Story of a Vampire”, Dracula)

So yeah… that’s all that I have/am-willing-to-look-up for now, but I hope it helps! You might also consider looking at superstitions relating to other supernatural entities, like witches, devils, succubi, etc… as vampirism in literature (as is pretty clear in the case of Stoker) often borrows from a lot of bits and pieces of non-vampiric folklore, but if you want info on just vampires being vampires in (admittedly mostly nineteenth century) literature, you now know pretty much what I know.

“If thou wilt be mine, I shall make thee happier than God Himself in His paradise. The angels themselves will be jealous of thee. Tear off that funeral shroud in which thou art about to wrap thyself. I am Beauty, I am Youth, I am Life. Come to me! Together we shall be Love. Can Jehovah offer thee aught in exchange? Our lives will flow on like a dream, in one eternal kiss.

Fling forth the wine of that chalice, and thou art free. I will conduct thee to the Unknown Isles. Thou shalt sleep in my bosom upon a bed of massy gold under a silver pavilion, for I love thee and would take thee away from thy God, before whom so many noble hearts pour forth floods of love which never reach even the steps of His throne!”

—  Teophile Gautier, La Morte Amoureuse
Si tu veux être à moi, je te ferai plus heureux que Dieu lui-même dans son paradis; les anges te jalouseront. Déchire ce funèbre linceul où tu vas t'envelopper; je suis la beauté, je suis la jeunesse, je suis la vie;
viens à moi, nous serons l'amour. Que pourrait t'offrir Jéhovah pour compensation? Notre existence coulera
comme un rêve et ne sera qu'un baiser éternel.
—  Théophile Gautier, La morte amoureuse
If thou wilt be mine, I shall make thee happier than God Himself in His paradise. The angels themselves will be jealous of thee. Tear off that funeral shroud in which thou art about to wrap thyself. I am Beauty, I am Youth, I am Life. Come to me! Together we shall be Love. Can Jehovah offer thee aught in exchange? Our lives will flow on like a dream, in one eternal kiss.
—  La Morte Amoureuse by Theophile Gautier