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book cover of Our Vampires, Ourselves

Our Vampires, Ourselves

A non fiction book by

In this work, literary critic and vampire enthusiast, Nina Auerbach, argues that every age embraces the vampire it needs and, at the same time, gets the vampire it deserves. Working with a range of texts, including movies and television, Auerbach locates vampires at the heart of national experience - and reads the last 200 years of Anglo-American cultural history through them. She suggests that all vampires are not alike: their variability in appearance, chosen prey, degree of menace and even the rules governing their undead existence are all symptoms of social and cultural change. The book opens in 19th-century England and then moves to 20th-century America. Auerbach shows how the vampire's story is retoldd in these works to fit needs ranging from the obsessions of individual authors to those of entire political cultures. Beginning with Byron and Polidori, Rymer and Le Fanu, she shows how their vampires offer an intimacy, often homoerotic, that threatens the structures of class and the authority of husbands and fathers. The publication of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", in 1897, ends this tradition, introducing a tyrannical vampire for late Victorian readers who were haunted less by ideas of the undead than by a monster of their own clinical making, the homosexual. Moving from the beginning of the 20th century through the early 1990s, Auerbach examines a range of popular fiction and film (including five film adaptations of "Dracula" between 1931 and 1992) in relation to changing ideologies of power. She maps an American odyssey from revolution to nostalgia to reaction. From the 1970s, when novelists like Anne Rice proved vampires were no longer exclusively male creations, Auerbach moves to the Reagon years, when vampires were affected by the twin forces of conservative reaction and the AIDS epidemic. She concludes on a note of hope by finding vampires reborn in a female tradition in works ranging from Queer theory and performance to fiction and film.


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