It may seem that the vampire phenomenon is relatively recent with True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and Twighlight all big money makers in popular culture. However, the literary vampire has been around for much longer, making its debute in poetry of all things, most likely with Heinrich Ossenfelder’s poem “The Vampire.” It is a short work in German that led the way for a craze in the 1720s of vampire themed poetry. The first appearance in prose occurred with a short story by John Polidori in 1819, called “The Vampyre.” Novels? Most people would default to Stoker’s masterpiece of the genre, but Sheridan Le Fanu actually beat him by 25 years with 1872′s Carmilla.
So why am I talking bloodsuckers this week? With the return of True Blood and next week’s release of Eclipse, I wanted to take a moment to do one of my favorite things–encourage people to read. So for those of you out there who love Vampire fiction, here’s a list of suggested reading beyond the world of Sookie and Bella. Most should be available at the library, although some may even be available online for free.
- Carmilla Sheridan Le Fanu (1872)–The first of the genre, it’s an interesting work, especially in light of its lesbian themes.
- Dracula Bram Stoker (1897)–One of the best that really set the tone and standards for those to come. Read just to say you have.
- I am Legend Richard Matheson (1954)–Spare me that it’s a Will Smith film. It was a book first and in this case the book definitely surpasses the movie.
- Vampire Chronicles Ann Rice (1976-2003)–I’ll argue that The Vampire Lestat is the best of the group, followed closely by Interview with the Vampire. After a while, the volumes lose something, but the first two hold up.
- Blade–It’s a comic book, but it’s good one and the character is an interesting spin on the vampire hunter character.
- Brown Girl in the Ring Nalo Hopkinson (1998)–In interesting twist on the genre that pulls from Caribbean folklore.
- Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Laurell K. Hamilton (ongoing)–For those who like Sookie, this is a more adult series that deals with the supernatural beyond vampires, as well as a more adult sexuality.
And finally . . .
- Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte (1847)–No, this isn’t a vampire story, but it is a gothic love story. For my kids that want to read Twilight for their projects, I always suggest this. Heck, Bella and Edward even talk about it in the book. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is another one worth picking up.
Whether your fancy be vampires or robots, just read anything and everything! I’m rereading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as we speak, along with a random assortment. What’s on your nightstand?