Read The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre by John William Polidori RobertMorrison Chris Baldick Charles James Lever Letitia E. Landon J. Sheridan Le Fanu Horace Smith William Carleton Online


John Polidori's classic tale The Vampyre (1819), was a product of the same ghost-story competition that produced Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The present volume selects thirteen other tales of mystery and the macabre, including the works of James Hogg, J.S. LeFanu, Letitia Landon, Edward Bulwer, and William Carelton. The introduction surveys the genesis and influence of ThJohn Polidori's classic tale The Vampyre (1819), was a product of the same ghost-story competition that produced Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The present volume selects thirteen other tales of mystery and the macabre, including the works of James Hogg, J.S. LeFanu, Letitia Landon, Edward Bulwer, and William Carelton. The introduction surveys the genesis and influence of The Vampyre and its central themes and techniques, while the Appendices contain material closely associated with its composition and publication, including Lord Byron's prose fragment Augustus Darvell....

Title : The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre
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ISBN : 9780192838940
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Number of Pages : 278 Pages
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The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre Reviews

  • BillKerwin
    2019-03-21 16:20

    This is a companion volume to Tales from Blackwood's Magazine, containing early 19th century stories of grisly happenings and extreme psychological states culled from British magazines other than Blackwood's. The most influential piece here, of course, is "The Vampyre," originally thought to be Byron's but actually written by Byron's personal physician and cast-off middle-class toady Dr. John Polidori, a tale that turned the vampire into a 19th craze by transforming the rather shabby peasant Eastern European folkloric figure into the libertine image of Lord B. himself. It was Polidori who added sex, class and elegance to the vampire, forever putting his mark upon the legend. (The anthology also includes Henry Colborn's original introduction from the "New Monthly Magazine," the anonymous letter accompanying the manuscript on its first publication, a note by Polidori on authorship, and Byron's original fragmentary tale). Most of the other stories are worth at least one reading and will give you a very good idea of the dark sensational fiction characteristic of the Regency. Edward Bulwer's "Monos and Daimonos" (1830) is distinguished by a narrative voice that inevitably reminds one of Poe and surely must have influenced him. "The Confessions of a Reformed Ribbonman" is an horrific account of Irish terrorism, Charlotte Gore's "The Red Man" features a good story and an even more interesting frame, and Le Fanu's "A Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess" is an interesting first draft of his "Uncle Silas" published twenty-six years before the celebrated novel. Even Letitia Landon's "The Bride of Lindorf" (1836), a poorly-written piece stuffed with adjectives and sentimental commonplaces, is instructive in demonstrating how the cliches of the degenerate gothic would soon fill the most sensational productions of Victorian woman's fiction.

  •  Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
    2019-03-22 00:32

    This is a partial review. I read The Vampyre out of this collection, but I will read the other stories when I have the opportunity.Review of The Vampyre by John PolidoriRead: 6/13/12Rating: Three Stars The history of this short story might be even more intriguing than the actual writing itself. Mr. Polidori was the personal physician of the infamous Lord Byron, and this work of fiction was conceived on that famous holiday event in which Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and Mary Godwin (who would later become Mary Shelley) issued a challenge to each other to write Gothic stories. This was Mr. Polidori's result.My thoughts:I have little doubt that Lord Ruthven was inspired by Lord Byron. Polidori's feelings towards his debauched past employer are quite clear. In this case, Lord Ruthven has a supernatural ability to ruin, damage, and destroy anything he lays his hands on, and enjoys doing so in the process. This does not speak well of Lord Byron, and based of what I have read of him, I can see some echoes of him in this character. Lord Caroline Lamb, the incredibly outrageous for her times, cast-off mistress of Byron is immortalized in a character who appears briefly in the beginning of the story, at least in my opinion.As far as the writing, I didn't feel that it was particularly inspired or brilliant. This short story is all telling and little showing. This created a distance between the characters in this story and myself. It was hard to feel much sympathy for Aubrey, his sister Miss Aubrey, Ianthe, or anyone else because the narrative was too much like a bland newspaper article, with little connection to the intense emotions of the persons involved. I had a distant feeling of dislike and disgust for Lord Ruthven, which with more active, vivid writing could have been outright disgust. That is a sadly wasted opportunity for a writer, in my opinion.It's hard to say much overall about this story. It wasn't bad. I can't say I was disappointed, because I didn't have high expectations. Regardless of the issues as far as the writing, Mr. Polidori has earned his place in the vampire fiction canon. Sadly, he lived a short, disappointing (to himself) life. Although he could not be aware of the famous status of this story, it is some comfort to me that he has created something that endured two hundred years later. For that I will respect and appreciate The Vampyre. And also for its commentary of Lord Byron, a man whose antics pretty much created its own character archetype in literature, the Byronic hero. Admittedly in this case, there is nothing at all to recommend Lord Ruthven. Lord Byron himself, I cannot say yay or nay to that question.End verdict: Any vampire fiction aficionado should take the opportunity to read this story at least for its historical value.

  • classic reverie
    2019-04-05 18:28

    My first encounter with Vampire stories was Bram Stroker's Dracula and then a year later Joseph Sheridan Is Fanu's Carmilla, and this year John Polidori's The Vampyre. I enjoyed all three but my favorite is Polidori's short story. There is a sadness to all but to me, The Vampyre is the most devastating of the three. This short story was one of many written in the famous ghost story competition at Villa Diodati, the famous Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was included. Polidori was Lord Byron's personal physician and had Byron in mind for his main character. Byron wrote Augustus Darvell but it was not completed, it was thought that The Vampyre was Bryon's but that was proved to be Polidori's story. In this collection the unfinished Augustus Darnell is included which has many similarities which is eery. If you are looking for gothic, vampire, horrifying and grave robbing stories then the stories listed her will fit the bill. There are three anonymous stories which all are wonderfully written. (The Victim, The Curse and Life in Death)The other stories-*Sir Guy Eveling's Dream by Horace Smith - a ghost like story*Confessions of a Reformed Ribbonman by William Carleton - a very, very dark version that has an Ox Bow incident feeling.*Monos and Daimonos by Edward Bulwer -ghost like story*The Master of Logan by Allan Cunningham - like Sir Guy's story but different spin.*Some Terrible Letters From Scotland by James Hogg- cholera victims and burying the living thought dead.*N. P. Willis My Hobby -Rather - strange story regarding a corpse.*The Red Man by Catherine Gore (more of a review under that title)*Post- Mortem Recollections of a Medical Lecturer -another burying a live man* The Bride of Lindorf by Letitia E. Landon- (more review under that title)*Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu - (more review under that title)Footnotes and explanatory notes included and helpful.

  • Lara (Bookishsolace)
    2019-03-28 00:32

    These stories were written in the early 19th century where atmosphere counted a lot. If you’re a fan of modern horror stories these ones might seem a little lame for you. The horror often focuses on the situation and psychological experience rather than physical detail so they aim for a deeper level. So if you’re looking for a classic that is really horror I would suggest reading “Dracula” by Bram Stoker.I personally think that these are some really well written gothic fiction (however Dracula and Frankenstein are much better). What I really like about these short story collections in general, is that they bring back stories which are mostly forgotten by the reading public. They contain curses, murder, infanticide, and other crimes and often rely on either realism or fantasy.The Vampyre by John Polidori: An aristocratic vampire takes advantage and destroys young women of noble lineage. The story introduces the aristocratic vampire to the English readership for the first time.Sir Guy Eveling’s Dream by Horace Smith: The classic ghost story of a young man who falls for a ghost woman.Confessions of a Reformed Ribbonman by William Carleton: A story of a terrible revenge in which innocent men are forced to bear witness. An entire family is murdered because the father reported a house robber to the police.Monos and Daimonos by Edward Bulwer: A murderer is pursued by the phantom of his victim, which never leaves him alone for a second.The Master of Logan by Allan Cunningham: The defilement of a grave and its contents leads to the ghost persecuting the master of an aristocratic house, and a showdown between the forces of good and evil.The Victim by Anonymous: A story relating to the murders committed by Burke and Hare, who murdered innocent people in order to provide cadavers to medical students as anatomy subjects.Some Terrible Letters from Scotland by James Hogg: Unrelated letters containing frightening accounts about the cholera epidemic in Scotland.The Curse by Anonymous: An old curse impels the scion of a great house to murderous actions, ruining himself and his noble family.Life in Death by Anonymous: A scientist discovers a way to come back from death which depends on someone rubbing his corpse with a life-restoring balm.My Hobby, –rather by NP Willis: A young medical student is asked to hold an overnight vigil over a corpse, and in the process of doing so discovers the corpse being eaten by a cat.The Red Man by Catherine Gore: The author utilizes France and it’s then recent past of the French revolution as a setting for a truly horrifying tale that includes murder and infanticide.Post-mortem, Recollections of a Medical Lecturer by Charles Lever: A professor dies and comes back from death being able to describe the process of what happened.The Bride of Lindorf by Letitia E. Landon: A tale full of classic gothic elements.Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess by J.S. Le Fanu: After the death of her father, a young and innocent heiress is placed in the care of her uncle, a man whose reputation has been tarnished by the suspicion of murder.I enjoyed every story and some gave me a chill down the spine. I can highly recommend this short story collection to everyone who is interested in reading gothic literature. My mother tongue isn’t English and despite studying English Major I sometimes struggled to understand every word, but it was really worth the struggle and the vocabulary is easy to look up.

  • Faustina
    2019-03-25 18:20

    Wow, this is a good book! The main reason why I liked it is because instead of getting beat over the head with the usual same-old, same-old, frequently anthologized horror stories ("Dracula's Guest", "The Jolly Corner", "Good Lady Ducayne" and so on), this book brings out some rarities that definitely deserve more attention. Admittedly, a couple of the stories are rather boring - N.P. Willis' "My Hobby - Rather" (what the hell does that mean?!?) and Lever's "Post-Mortem Recollections of a Medical Lecturer". However, it is a small price to pay for how many good stories are in this book. Catherine Gore's "The Red Man" is terrifying and heartbreaking. "Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess" is probably one of the best stories Le Fanu ever wrote. I also like that the appendices of this book include Byron's original cut of "The Vampyre", as well as the verses from his "Giaour" that involve vampirism:Thy corse (corpse) shall from its tomb be rent;Then ghastly haunt thy native place,And suck the blood of all thy race;Above all, I feel the real prize of this book is Letitia E. Landon's "The Bride of Lindorf". Yes, it is obvious this tale is from the age of sentimentality. But the prose is stunning, the imagery is gorgeous, and it makes for a nice romantic escape. Hey, Elizabeth Barrett Browning worshiped the ground Letitia E. Landon (L.E.L) walked - even though no one knows about her now - so I'd say there must have been something there!

  • Kathy
    2019-03-30 00:30

    If you ever want to know where Bram Stoker got his inspiration, read The Vampyre by Polidori. Vampire tales existed before it was written, but they were monsters akin to zombies or werewolves. The aristocratic bloodsucker was Polidori's creation, and Stoker ran with it. Imagine how different the world of literature, theater and film would be if not for that. Good thing Polidori was getting tired of his patron Byron's manipulative and controlling behavior, I say!The other stories in this book range from great to poor, hence the three-star rating. Even the poor ones are better written than most of today's fiction, however. The Bride of Lindorf comes to mind -- starts off well but rushes to a rather melodramatic and abrupt ending. Still, though -- worth reading, and collections are nice because you can read them in bits and pieces if you don't have a lot of time.

  • Marie Williams
    2019-03-28 16:06

    I'm going back and forth between whether to rate this a two or a three. It's probably a solid 2.5 stars. To be fair, I haven't finished the entire book. It was bought for the sole purpose of Polidori's The Vampyre, and I skimmed a couple of the others. There's a reason I don't get on with most early gothic (namely the melodrama) but it's worth it for the true origin of the vampire as a dark, seductive and aristocratic figure.

  • Louise
    2019-04-09 16:28

    I read from numerous short story collections rather erratically so it could be a while before I finish this one - so instead of waiting until I've read all of these and then posting a review for the collection after I've forgotten a lot of the details (which I'll probably do as well) I am going to use his space to post mini-reviews of particularly noteworthy stories as and when I read them.2/14 stories readThe Vampyre, John Polidori (14/06/12)The title book of this collection, and a few words have to be said about the author, the conception of the story, and its literary influence before I can start to asses it on its own merits. For the benefit of anyone who doesn't read much gothic fiction this is the story that brought the modern idea of the 'aristocratic and sexy' vampire to England - predating both Le Fanu's Carmilla and Stoker's Dracula. The author, Polidori, was a physician to Lord Byron and the story was conceived in the same evening of competitive ghost stories that inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. As such, the titular vampire, Lord Ruthven is widely believed to be based on Lord Byron and the relationship between Lord Ruthven and his victim reflecting an exaggerated version of that between Byron and Polidori. Considering that the name 'Lord Ruthven' had already been used for a character clearly meant to reflect Byron in another work of fiction written by a spurned lover, the Byron as the inspiration for The Vampyre is a theory I can accept - to an extent. Not being a Byron scholar though that's not really my interest, so onto the merits of the story!While I really enjoyed it, I wasn't blown away. The narrative voice is incredibly passive and it reads more like an oral story than it does a written work; very bare-bones with little dialogue, a detached third-person narration, and scant description. It fits with the type of story - especially when you remember that the origin was essentially a group of writers making up campfire stories - but it really doesn't make for the most involved reading. I actually quite liked it - it enabled me to imagine the details more vividly - but it's a bit like reading an urban legend rather than a piece of literature - it doesn't suck you into caring about the characters, it just narrates the 'facts' of the story and leaves it at that.The ending was also rushed, the last line unintentionally full of cheesy Hammer Horror movie DUN DUN DUN! It even has the last word capitalised with an exclamation mark at the end. After all the build-up I expected more - not for it to follow a different path, it was predictably signposted from the start, but for it to execute the final crime with a bit more style and finesse. Ending aside though I liked the plot - the danger of Lord Ruthven isn't just a physical thirst for blood but that he is 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know' (I'm sorry, it's cliché but it was fun!). Sure he kills beautiful young virgins and drains their blood but his real evil is more insidious and far more terrifying - a delight in finding and corrupting innocence and virtue, and joy in ruining lives. Lord Ruthven is a man who rewards vice with the ability to indulge in it even further, takes glee in misery, and goes out of his way to destroy the life of his idealistic young companion. His evil comes from his force of personality as much as it comes from his biological necessity to drink blood - and he's a stronger character for it than the rather simplistic Dracula. Or he would be, if this short and sketchy story had been fleshed out into the atmospheric novella it should clearly have been. In short, I can see how it was as influential as it is and how the ideas sparked the whole vampire trend in England - transforming a rather base peasant myth of living corpses into a dark, charismatic, and deeply seductive danger - particularly for the upper classes. Unfortunately the execution never quite lived up to the ideas or potential and I never truly managed to bring myself to care about any of the victims or their sufferings, so detached was the narration. It's a good read, a fun read, a must for any vampire fan, but it left me wishing there was just a little bit more to it.Sir Guy Eveling's Dream, Horace Smith (29/06/12)

  • Amy
    2019-04-02 18:15

    Full review available at: warmdayswillnevercease.wordpress.comThe Vampyre is a fantastic story and it features Aubery, a young man from England who meets Lord Ruthven, a mysterious English nobleman. They travel together to Rome but Aubery leaves for Greece alone when Ruthven seduces the daughter of Aubery’s friend. In Greece Aubery becomes infatuated with Ianthe, a very young girl, who tells him a tale about vampires. Later, Ruthven seduces Aubery’s sister who has a nervous breakdown. I’m not going to reveal much more of the plot because you should read it to find out what happens. It’s a fantastic plot though and I really enjoyed it.Another aspect that I loved about this story is that the the vampire is obviously Lord Byron. Ruthven is a name that a few of Byron’s lovers have used to represent him in novels, most notably in Glenarvon by Lady Caroline Lamb which is a very unflattering depiction of Lord Byron. I just love that Byron offended so many of his lovers that they had a thinly veiled code name for him so that everyone knew when a story was about Byron.I think that this short story is excellently written and I really love this line from the opening on the story:In spite of the deadly hue of his face, which never gained a warmer tint, either from the blush of modesty, or from the strong emotion of passion, though its form and outline were beautiful, many of the female hunters after notoriety attempted to win his attentions, and gain, at least, some marks of what they might term affection.Polidori does not hide that Ruthven is a vampire. He makes it obvious from the first page. However, his protagonist doesn’t know so there’s a lovely bit of dramatic irony at play in this novella. I also really love the term ‘female hunters’ because women are usually seen as weak and submissive in vampire novels and novellas but Polidori considers women to be predators.The other stories are great too. I loved My Hobby – Rather by N. P. Willis. It’s so short. It’s only three pages long and yet I still really enjoyed it. The story is so strange and yet compelling and that’s just how tales of the macabre should be. I also really enjoyed Post-Mortem Recollections of a Medical Lecturer because it was so different as well as The Bride of Lindorf. I really wish that there had been more stories in this collection. It’s just a really good collection of tales if you’re into horror stories or the macabre.

  • Max Fincher
    2019-03-24 19:28

    Many readers today might think that it was Bram Stoker's novel, 'Dracula' (1897) where the vampire story started, in English fiction at least. However, John Polidori's short story (at only 20 pages or so) is generally acknowledged to be the first prose fictionalization of the vampire as the aristocratic predator whose victims are both female and male. Polidori was the poet Lord Byron's personal doctor, and accompanied him to Geneva with the poet Percy Shelley, and his wife, Mary Shelley. 'The Vampyre' (1819) and 'Frankenstein' (1818) by Mary Shelley, were two of the ghost stories that arose from a competition among this group of English radical poets and intellectuals to amuse themselves in the wet summer Europe experienced in 1816. The narrator Aubrey's increasing obsession with the liverish aloof Lord Ruthven is clearly modelled on Lord Byron. Aubrey's obsessive fear that Ruthven may bite and possess his sister, suggests possibly a circumvented incestuous attraction is at work in the tale, alongside a sublimated homoerotic desire to be 'touched' by the 'unspeakable' Ruthven:'Aubrey became almost distracted. If before his mind had been absorbed by one subject, how much more completely was it engrossed, now that the certainty of the monster's living again pressed upon his thoughts. His sister's attentions were now unheeded, and it was in vain that she entreated him to explain to her what had caused his abrupt conduct. He only uttered a few words, and those terrified her.' Along with the poems 'Christabel' (1798) and 'Lamia'(1820) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and John Keats respectively, Polidori's story is an important Romantic text in the development of how the vampire becomes a figure to explore and contain society's fears around sexuality, class and race.

  • The Book Voucher
    2019-04-07 18:31

    I spent a delightfully frighful and shuddering hour listening to John William Polidori’s The Vampyre on the LibriVox app (thumbs up, I highly recommend it), especially since I listened to the narration by Hokuspokus, in German. I love the sound of German! My review's here.

  • Ricardo Lourenço
    2019-04-17 19:28

    Este artigo revela uma parte considerável do enredo da obra.John William Polidori nasceu em Londres a 7 de Setembro de 1795, filho do escritor e tradutor Gaetano Polidori (responsável pela tradução de Paradise Lost e The Castle of Otranto para italiano) e de Anna Maria Pierce. Em 1804 inicia a sua educação no Ampleforth College em Yorkshire, e em 1811 ingressa na Universidade de Edinburgo, conseguindo o seu doutoramento em medicina com apenas 19 anos.Em 1816, através de uma recomendação de Sir William Knighton, Lord Byron contrata Polidori para o acompanhar nas suas viagens pela Europa como seu médico pessoal. Durante o Verão do mesmo ano instalam-se na Suiça, onde Byron é frequentemente visitado por Jane Clairmont, Percy Bysshe Shelley e Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, todos eles presentes na famosa competição realizada numa noite de Junho em que, após uma sessão de leitura de histórias de fantasmas, Byron desafiou cada um a escrever uma história dentro do género. A competição inspirou Mary Godwin, que começou a escrever uma das mais influentes obras da literatura gótica: Frankenstein; Byron cedo perdeu o interesse, limitando-se a escrever parcialmente um conto intitulado Augustus Darvell; Polidori dedicou-se a Ernestus Berchtold; or, The Modern Oedipus - o único romance que viria a publicar - e, posteriormente, desenvolveu o conceito presente no fragmento de Byron, dando origem a The Vampyre.Em 1819, Henry Colburn, procurando tirar partido da fama do poeta Inglês, publica The Vampyre na New Monthly Magazine com o subtítulo "A Tale by Lord Byron". Pouco tempo após a publicação, Polidori reclama a autoria da obra, muito embora reconheça a importância que Byron teve na sua constituição. A forma como o manuscrito chegou aos escritórios da New Monthly permanece um mistério, mas é facto que The Vampyre se tornou rapidamente num grande sucesso."It happened that in the midst of the dissipations attendant upon London winter, there appeared at the various parties of the leaders of the ton a nobleman more remarkable for his singularities, than his rank. He gazed upon the mirth around him, as if he could not participate therein. Apparently, the light laughter of the fair only attracted his attention, that he might by a look quell it and throw fear into those breasts where thoughtlessness reigned. Those who felt this sensation of awe, could not explain whence it arose: some attributed it to the dead grey eye, which, fixing upon the object's face, did not seem to penetrate, and at one glance to pierce through to the inward workings of the heart; but fell upon the cheek with a leaden ray that weighed upon the skin it could not pass."The Vampyre destaca-se, essencialmente, por transportar o vampiro para o ambiente urbano. Até à data, tanto no folclore como na literatura, o vampiro era uma figura repugnante, subsistindo à base do instinto de modo a satisfazer a sua necessidade por sangue. Em contraste, a criação de Polidori – Lord Ruthven –, é uma personagem sofisticada e atraente, que se desloca pela alta sociedade inglesa sem levantar quaisquer suspeitas enquanto escolhe as suas vítimas. É esta ameaça latente, esta diluição da fronteira entre o natural e o sobrenatural, que torna Ruthven numa figura aterrorizadora de uma forma que os seus antecessores nunca conseguiram atingir.O conto inicia-se apresentando o jovem e inexperiente Aubrey, que acredita que "os sonhos dos poetas são as realidades da vida," mas que cedo percebe, apesar da sua ingenuidade, que a vida social se distancia bastante do que se pode ler nos romances. Quebrada a ilusão, Aubrey fica intrigado com o misterioso mas fascinante Ruthven, e decide aproximar-se deste com a intenção de estudar a sua estranha personalidade. Eventualmente organizam uma viagem em conjunto, e é durante essa viagem que Aubrey detecta alguns sinais alarmantes no que toca à conduta do seu companheiro."His companion was profuse in his liberality; -- the idle, the vagabond, and the beggar, received from his hand more than enough to relieve their immediate wants. But Aubrey could not avoid remarking, that it was not upon the virtuous, reduced to indigence by the misfortunes attendant even upon virtue, that he bestowed his alms; -- these were sent from the door with hardly suppressed sneers; but when the profligate came to ask something, not to relieve his wants, but to allow him to wallow in his lust, to sink him still deeper in his iniquity, he was sent away with rich charity. This was, however, attributed by him to the greater importunity of the vicious, which generally prevails over the retiring bashfulness of the virtuous indigent. There was one circumstance about the charity of his Lordship, which was still more impressed upon his mind: all those upon whom it was bestowed, inevitably found that there was a curse upon it, for they were all either led to the scaffold, or sunk to the lowest and the most abject misery."Estas situações inquietam Aubrey, mas só quando recebe uma carta dos seus pais a alertar para a comportamento imoral e para a capacidade de sedução de Ruthven, é que decide abrir mão da sua amizade, decidido a não viajar com alguém “cujo carácter não tinha mostrado um único ponto brilhante.”Após esta quebra de relações, prossegue sozinho para a Grécia, onde durante algum tempo explora as ruínas de Atenas e se apega à bela Ianthe, filha dos donos da casa onde tomou residência. Ironicamente, Ianthe tenta convencer o céptico Aubrey da existência de vampiros, acabando por perecer nas mãos de um. Perturbado pelo sucedido, Aubrey adoece e, para sua surpresa, ao acordar do seu sono febril encontra Ruthven a cuidar de si."His lordship seemed quite changed; he no longer appeared that apathetic being who had so astonished Aubrey; but as soon as his convalescence began to be rapid, he again gradually retired into the same state of mind, and Aubrey perceived no difference from the former man, except that at times he was surprised to meet his gaze fixed intently upon him, with a smile of malicious exultation playing upon his lips: he knew not why, but this smile haunted him."O inesperado acto leva a uma reconciliação, e os dois companheiros retomam a sua viagem durante a qual se tornam vítimas de uma emboscada. Durante o ataque Ruthven é ferido e acaba, aparentemente, por morrer, embora não sem antes obrigar Aubrey a jurar que ocultaria qualquer pormenor acerca dos seus crimes durante um ano e um dia. Decidido a não permanecer num país que só lhe trouxe infortúnios, e após descobrir que o amigo fora o responsável pela morte da encantadora Ianthe, Aubrey regressa a Inglaterra.Gradualmente consegue abtrair-se do seu passado recente até uma noite em que, para seu choque, reencontra Ruthven. Tal acontecimento coloca-o num estado de histeria tal que a família se vê obrigada a confiná-lo ao seu quarto, com supervisão de um médico. O seu estado acaba por piorar ao se aperceber que a sua irmã está noiva de Ruthven, estando o casamento previsto exactamente para último dia do seu juramento. Incapaz de evitar que a sua irmã se torne em mais uma das vítimas do dissimulado vampiro, o seu desespero resulta no rompimento de um vaso sanguíneo, dando-lhe apenas tempo para relatar a sua história, revelando, finalmente, a verdadeira natureza de Lord Ruthven."He shut his eyes, hoping that it was but a vision arising from his disturbed imagination; but he again saw the same form, when he unclosed them, stretched by his side. There was no colour upon her cheek, not even upon her lip; yet there was a stillness about her face that seemed almost as attaching as the life that once dwelt there: -- upon her neck and breast was blood, and upon her throat were the marks of teeth having opened the vein: -- to this the men pointed, crying, simultaneously struck with horror, «A Vampyre! a Vampyre!»"The Vampyre é importante não só por trazer o vampiro para a esfera aristocrática, mas também por ilustrar um período de transição na literatura gótica, em que os medos, que antes ganhavam forma nos oprimentes castelos ou mosteiros, passaram a ser incorporados por monstros. De facto, o persuasivo Ruthven encarna o receio que a nobreza tinha por homens elegantes e sem escrúpulos, capazes de atrair e desonrar as suas filhas, arruinando-as a nível moral e social. É também aterrorizador no sentido em que consegue subverter as normas sexuais, usando isso a seu favor para exercer um forte domínio tanto sobre as mulheres como sobre os homens.Por outro lado, Polidori não adopta a típica estrutura utilizada na grande maioria dos romances góticos produzidos até à data, algo especialmente evidente no casamento que se realiza no final do conto, casamento esse que, ao invés de representar uma fase de libertação do mal que assombrou a história, representa, isso sim, a libertação e o triunfo desse próprio mal.Independentemente da influência de Byron, que levou muitos a acusar Polidori de plágio, a verdade é que este último transformou um fragmento inacabado numa história coesa, estabelecendo um modelo que viria desenvolvido por James Rymer em Varney the Vampire, por Sheridan Le Fanu em Carmilla e, acima de tudo, por Bram Stoker em Dracula. É, pois, imerecidamente que este autor permanece na sombra, quando a sua contribuição, embora curta, se ramificou até aos nossos dias.Referências:Birkhead, Edith. The Tale of Terror . Project Gutenberg, 2004., Jessica. Gothic Literature: A Gale Critical Companion. Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2006.Botting, Fred. Gothic. Londres: Routledge, 1996.Heiland, Donna. Gothic and Gender: An Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.Polidori, John William. The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre. Nova Iorque: Oxford University Press, 2008.Nigel Leask, Polidori, John William (1795–1821), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004,, David; Byron, Glennis. The Gothic. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.

    2019-04-11 00:32

    review of John Polidori's The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 15, 2014 When am I ever going to start writing those superficial capsule reviews again?! This one's "too long", see the full thing here: 1st time I remember running across mention of Polidori & his story "The Vampyre" was probably in Ken Russell's 1986 film Gothic. I had a brief phase of reading Gothic lit 40 yrs or so ago when I learned about it thru reading that the Surrealists liked it. As I recall, Polidori is depicted somewhat unsympathetically as an hysterical weak character who attempts suicide. He did, eventually, actually commit suicide. Gothic luridly depicts the summer of 1816 when the poets Lord Byron & Percy Bysshe Shelley + Byron's physician Polodori + Jane 'Claire' Clairmont & her writer step-sister Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (better known after marriage to Shelley as Mary Shelley) "amused themselves rather strenuously by reading some German ghost stories and [..] then challeng[ing] each other to compose similar tales of supernatural terror." [..] "Polidori began his only novel, Ernestus Berchtold; or, The Modern Oedipus (1819), and Mary Godwin [..] embarked upon the composition of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus". (p ix of the Introduction to The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre) "Gothic tales and fragments began appearing in the magazines shortly after the publication of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto in 1764, and were common after 1790, when the craze for the Gothic in Britain reached its height." - p xv This collection interests me for several reasons, not restricted to the reading of the Polidori story rounding out my knowledge of Gothic lit somewhat. For one thing, 3 of the tales presented were originally presented as having been written by "Anonymous" & still credited to such in this volume. For another thing: "These fictional possibilities of claustrophobia were exploited to the full in William Mudford's Blackwood's tale 'The Iron Shroud' (1830), in which a prisoner discovers his metallic cell is gradually shrinking and will thus certainly crush him to death. It was upon the basis of these works that Edgar Allan Poe soon developed the hysterical intensity of his most memorable stories, notably 'The Pit and the Pendulum' (1843), which is indebted directly to Mudford's tale." (pp xvi-xvii) "The Iron Shroud" is not one of the stories herein collected but Charles Lever's "Post-Mortem Recollections of a Medical Lecturer" (1836) cd also be sd to've been a predecessor to Poe's "The Premature Burial" (1844). & in the introductory footnote to Edward Bulwer's "Mono and Daimonos" [1830] it's stated that: "In an 1835 letter to the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, Poe listed 'Monos and Daimonos' as one of those tales that was 'invariably' popular with readers because it displayed 'the ludicrous heightened into the grotesque: the fearful coloured into the horrible: the witty exaggerated into the burlesque: the singular wrought out into the strange and mystical'. A year later Poe cited 'Monos and Daimonos' to support his claim that, in Bulwer's writings, 'all is richly and glowingly intellectual—all is energetic, or astute, or brilliant, or profound'. Poe's 'Silence—A Fable' (1838) is heavily indebted to 'Monos and Daimonos', to the point where, as Mabbot points out, some sentences are taken 'almost verbatim'." (p 262) I don't think that I share Poe's appreciation of the story. Here're a few samples: "My father died when I was eighteen; I was transferred to my uncle's protection, and I repaired to London. I arrived there, gaunt and stern, a giant in limbs and strength, and to the tastes of those about me, a savage in bearing and in mood. They would have laughed, but I awed them; they would have altered me, but I changed them; I threw a damp over their enjoyment and a cloud over their meetings. Though I said little, though I sat with them, estranged and silent, and passive, they seemed to wither beneath my presence." - p 54 ""I commenced my pilgrimage—I pierced the burning sands—I traversed the vast deserts—I came into the enormous woods of Africa, where human step never trod". - p 54 "Seasons glided on, and my youth ripened into manhood, and manhood grew grey with the first frost of age; and then a vague and restless spirit fell upon me, and I said in my foolish heart, 'I will look upon that countenances of my race once more!' I retraced my steps—I recrossed the wastes—I re-entered the cities—I took again the garb of man; for I had been hitherto naked in the wilderness, and hair had grown over me as a garment." - p 55 Given that I 'grew up on Poe' & have always thought of him as a pioneer (wch he certainly was - but more, perhaps, for things like "X-ing a Paragrab" (published post-mortem in 1850) & "The Gold-Bug" (1843). This latter was renowned for its central cryptoanalytic element. I remember reading in a bk that Poe's code-writing was so substantial that it was still used during the American Civil War 20 yrs after the publication of "The Gold-Bug". However, while there's plenty on Poe in David Kahn's substantial The Code-Breakers I deduce from it that Poe's Civil War encoding influence is not accurate b/c I didn't see it mentioned at all (I just skimmed - cd've missed it). The likelihood for the accuracy is small anyway since the story was so popular that it seems unlikely that the code in it wd've been useful for any truly secret purpose.), I was interested to see such strong precursors to his more macabre works in this bk. Polidori's story in & of itself is 'worth the price of admission' for the scholarly tidbits surrounding it for anyone interested in this period of English lit. "Better still, this prose tale, entitled The Vampyre, seemed to follow the pattern of Byron's best-known poetical productions—Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812-18) and Manfred (1817)—by incorporating a strong element of confessional self-portraiture, but this time treating the familiar figure of the accursed outlaw in even more lurid terms as a bloodsucking demon or 'vampyre' with the tell-tale name of Lord Ruthven—clearly an echo of another recent fictional portrayal of Byron as Clarence de Ruthven, Lord Glenarvon in the novel Glenarvon (1816) by Lady Caroline Lamb, Byron's cast-off mistress." (p vii) Byron as the vampyre strikes me basically as Byron as the 'sexual predator' or Byron as the guy who gets laid b/c of his forceful & talented (& rich) persona while the envious envy. Byron must've been quite the celebrity in his day b/c he features in other stories collected here as well: EG: in Anonymous's "The Curse" Byron is slightly misquoted: "'For never having dream'd of falsehood, we / Had not one word to say of constancy.'" (p 114) from "Don Juan"; & in the "Preliminaries for The Vampyre": "It is said, indeed, that upon paying his [Byron's] first visit at Coppet, following the servant who had announced his name, he was surprised to meet a lady carried out fainting; but before he had been seated many minutes, the same lady, who had been so affected at the sound of his name, returned and conversed with him a considerable time—such is female curiosity and affection!" (p 238) Not to mention, presumably, lust. "The story had made an indelible impression on the imagination of Europe, and Polidori had succeeded, however inadvertently, in founding the entire modern tradition of vampire fiction. Not only was his tale the first sustained fictional treatment of vampirism in English, it also completely recast the mythology upon which it drew." - p x "French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, whose Relation d'un Voyage du Levant (1702) was the eighteenth century's first account of vampirism" & "Dom Augustin Calmet was one of the most famous biblical scholars of his day, as well as the leading eighteenth century authority on vampires". - p 278 "As the basis of imaginative literature rather than of sick jokes, however, the folklore of vampires as represented in Calmet's accounts had some serious deficiencies: it was obscure, confused, and above all comically disgusting. According to the villagers of Serbia and Hungary, their vampires were bloated, shaggy, foul-smelling corpses who preyed on their immediate neighbors and relatives, or on nearby cattle (so that vampirism could be acquired by eating contaminated meat). Popular remedies against vampires involved digging them up and smearing oneself with their blood, or pulling out their teeth and sucking their gums,as well as the more conclusive precautions of staking, decapitation, and incineration. Still more unappealing was the fact that the legions of the undead were composed entirely of peasants. Some readers of Calmet's anthology pointed out that there seemed, oddly, never to have been an urban vampire, nor an educated bourgeois vampire, let alone one of noble birth. The historical and mythological importance of Polidori's The Vampyre lies in its drastic correction of the folklore's shortcomings, and especially in his elevation of the nosferatu (undead) to the dignity of high social rank." - p xii In other words, Lord Ruthven is herein credited as the 1st aristocratic vampire - his folklore predecessors having been, so the Introduction here claims, all hairier peasants. This interests me insofar as there's the implication of class predation - the rich prolonging their lives at the expense of everyone they can sink their fangs into, blood of the virgin n'at. &, of course, there's the 'sexiness' of submissively succumbing to such treatment: what an 'honor' to be sucked dry by the ruling class! Furthermore, as an aside, there's a tiny remote dead-end street in my neighborhood named Ruthven wch'll now be forever associated w/ aristocratic vampirism in my mind. In Polidori's tale he describes his surrogate self thusly: "About at the same time, there came to London a young gentleman of the name of Aubrey; he was an orphan left with an only sister in the possession of great wealth, by parents who died while he was yet in childhood. Left also to himself by guardians, who thought it their duty merely to take care of his fortune, while they relinquished the more important charge of his mind to the care of mercenary subalterns, he cultivated more his imagination than his judgment. He had, hence, that high romantic feeling of honour and candour, which daily ruins so many milliners' apprentices." (p 4) Aubrey is tricked into making an oath to not disclose the death of Ruthven who he later learns hasn't actually died (or has been 'reborn'). The stupidity of 'honoring' this oath is an indication of the aforementioned lack of judgment when he learns that his sister is about to marry the vampyre: "He began to speak with all his wonted warmth, and to congratulate her upon her marriage with a person so distinguished for rank and every accomplishment; when he suddenly perceived a locket upon her breast; opening it, what his surprise at beholding the features of the monster who had so long influenced his life. He seized the portrait in a paroxysm of rage, and trampled it under foot. Upon her asking him why he thus destroyed the semblance of her future husband, he looked as if he did not understand her—then seizing her hands, and gazing on her with a frantic expression of countenance, he bade her swear that she would never wed this monster, for he—But he could not advance—it seemed as if that voice again bade him to remember his oath". (p 21) & here we have the formal trick common to so many horror stories: the reader (or viewer in the case of movies) is maddeningly frustrated by the lack of communication that's a matter of life & death. "The guardians hastened to protect Miss Aubrey; but when they arrived, it was too late. Lord Ruthven had disappeared, and Aubrey's sister had glutted the thirst of a VAMPYRE!" (p 23) Ok, that's a spoiler - but the reader can see this one comin' from a mile away. W/ this in mind, I note that the value of this collection for me wasn't so much the 'thrillingness' of the stories as it was the look into the lurid recontextualization of the history of the time & the language used for this purpose: from Horace Smith's "Sir Guy Eveling's Dream": "'Now that we be upon this subject of dreams and apparitions, I may forbear to mention that full strange and terrible one of Sir Guy Eveling, and the consequences tragical issuing therefrom, which I do the more willingly pen, forasmuch as the dismal tale was hushed and smothered up at the time by the great families with which he was consanguined, people of worshipful regard and jeopardous power, whereby folks only whispered of the story in corners, and peradventure bruited about many things which were but fond imaginings.[']" - p 25 "[']he was of a haute and orgulus stomach that would not agnize the wisdom of beadsmen, nor even brook the tender counsellings of friends and kinsmen, whereby he waxed wild, and readily fell to mischief and riot, giving up his mornings to dicers, racqueters, and scatterlings, and casting away the night with ribalds, wasselers, and swinge-bucklers[']". - p 25 "[']This was that self tempest which there be many now living may remember, sith it followed hard upon the Proclamation of our late King Edward[']" - p 28 A footnote on p 259 informs the reader that "our late King Edward: presumably Edward VI, who acceded to the throne in 1547 and died six years later at the age of 15." That wd put the story told as having occurred 276 yrs before its publishing. I have no informed opinion about the accuracy of the language used but I assume it to be somewhat affected. Nonetheless, I love it: Take that, you orgulus swinge-bucklers!! Some of the stories are based on news of the time demonstrating that the popular taste for True Crime stories is hardly an invention of the 20th century. Take, eg, William Carleton's "Confessions of a Reformed Ribbonman": The name derives from the green ribbon worn as a badge by members. Events leading up to the atrocities described in Carleton's tale began on 10 April 1816, when Michale Tiernan, Patrick Stanley, and Philip Conlon broke into a huntsman's lodge occupied by Edward Lynch. The three men demanded guns and assaulted Lynch and members of his family before being driven off. At the trial Lynch and his son-in-law Thomas Rooney identified the invaders and, in the face of strong public sympathy, all three men were convicted and hanged, most probably on 21 August. In the early hours of 30 October, the Ribbonmen meted out their revenge. Led by Paddy Devaun, a weaver and parish clerk at Stonetown Chapel, they massacred Lynch and seven others, including his daughter and grandchild. In the aftermath, Devaun and seventeen other Ribbonmen were executed." (p 260) Again, the language & the history are the best part for me. This story has Irish brogue in it: "'Well,' said I, 'I'll just trust to God, and the consequinces, for the could, Paddy, ma bouchal; but a blessed dhrop ov it wo'nt be crossin' my lips, avick; so no more gosther about it—dhrink it yerself, if you like; maybe you want it as much as I do—wherein I've the patthern of a good big-coat upon me, so thick, yer sowl, that if it was rainin' bullocks, a dhrop would'nt get unher the nap ov it.'" (p 37) The organizer of the massacre tries to get everyone drunk so that they'll commit the atrocity they've sworn to even tho they don't know what it is: "'Well,' said he, smiling, 'I only wanted to thry yees an' by the oath yees tuck, there's not a Captain in the county has as good a right to be proud of his min as I have—well yees won't rue it, may be when the right time comes; and for that same rason every one of yees must have a glass from the jar; thim that won't dhrink it in the chapel can dhrink it widout[']" (p 40) Now the author is writing from a 1st-person perspective as if he were actually there at the events leading up to the killings & at the murders themselves. Whether that's true or not I don't know but he depicts some of the men as having the guts to resist the peer pressure: "The proceedings, however, had by this time taken too alarming a shape, for even the captain to compel them to a blindfold oath; the first man he called flatly refused to swear, until he should hear the nature of the service that was required. This was echoed by the remainder, who taking courage from the firmness of this person, declared generally, that until they first knew the business they were to execute, none of them should take the oath." (p 42) Really? I wish I cd believe that such people exist but in my own experience most people are just cowards & can be manipulated into performing just about any heinous deed as long as they're not taking responsibility for it. Paddy Devaun eventually coerces all to follow him where they find that the plan is to set a house full of people on fire & not let anyone escape: "'Its no use now, you know, if one's to hang, all will hang; so our safest way, you persave, is to lave none of them to tell the story: ye may go now if you wish; but it won't save a hair of your heads. You cowardly set! I know if I had told yees the sport, that none of ye except my own boys would come[']" (p 47) I've been the guy to say NO many a time but, thank goodness, never in such a horrific situation. Megalomaniacs need robopaths to enact their genocide - fewer of each wd make the world a safer place for the rest of us. the full review is here:

  • Alexandra Barnett
    2019-04-07 20:25

    **CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS!!**I have always enjoyed tales of the macabre, ghost stories and frightening tales and so I just had to read this book when it had a collection of varied stories that are more original than what we see today, all written at some time in the C19th:1. The Vampyre/ John Polidori (1819) ☆☆☆☆'The Vampyre' predates Le Fanu's novella Carmilla and Stoker's novel Dracula, both of which are excellent tales of the vampire myth. The Vampyre focuses on Aubrey and his association with a Lord Ruthven whom he discovers to be a 'vampyre', a creature responsible for the ruin of many that have enjoyed his company. The tale develops into Aubrey's descent to madness at being unable to reveal Lord Ruthven's evil secret nor prevent him from pursuing the heart (and blood!) of his beloved sister. Overall, a worthy tale that deserves at least 4 stars out of 5.2. Sir Guy Eveling's Dream / Horace Smith (1823) ☆☆☆☆As soon as I began to read it I realised that I had actually read something like it before. This story bears great resemblance to Irving Washington's The Adventure of the German Student which was published in 1824 in Tales of a Traveller, by Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.Sir Guy Eveling is man who enjoys the likes of socialising and gambling, with no plans on settling down and securing a bride until he finds a woman that takes his breath away. One night he dreams of the most beautiful woman but, sure it is not such a dream, he sets out to find her and find her he does – with most unexpected results! As much as I love Horace Smith's version, I prefer Irving Washington's and that is why I offer it only 4 stars!3. Confessions of a Reformed Ribbonman / William Carleton (1830) ☆☆☆This tale is based on the Wildgoose Lodge Murders that occurred on the night of 29–30 October 1816 in which eight people were murdered by burning to death, one only a five-month old infant. The Wildgoose Lodge was a farm building in the parish of Tallanstown-Reaghstown in Co. Louth, Ireland.I found this one a little hard to get into, mostly because it takes some time to get to the crux of the story. It focuses mostly on the events leading up to and after the murder of a Protestant family by a Catholic Nationalist secret society of the 19th Century in Ireland, where members were known as the Ribbonmen. Also there is the the guilt of the narrator for his passive participation.4. Monos and Daimonos / Edward Bulwer(1830) ☆☆☆This was another of the tales that I didn't quite take to. It focuses on a young man who, having grown up away from society until his father's death when he was aged eighteen, returns to the city and finds life there to be quite unsatisfactory and so indulges in himself to travel.The story then incorporates a shipwreck and a murder, both of which causes the author to feel a sense of haunted guilt over what he has done and how it won't be forgotten as he is tormented by the relentless spirit.5. The Master of Logan / Alan Cunningham (1831)☆☆☆☆An enjoyable Scottish story of temptation opposed by a preacher. There are elements of a cautionary folk-tale about it which makes it a very interesting read. A young man who shows some disrespect to old bones is told the tale of The Master of Logan, in which a young nobleman by the name of Logan is bears little heed to the warnings not to disrespect the spirits for they will punish him. Logan does not heed this advice at first but begins to feel uneasy soon and decides to send for the preacher to repent, only to be visited by a beautiful noblewoman who is not quite what she seems.6. The Victim / Anonymous(1831)☆☆☆☆Mentions of Burke reveals rather unsurprisingly that this is a tale of the body-snatchers, and a very good one at that! A young surgeon, preparing to pass examinations, pays for a body to be delivered so he and his good friend, St. Clare, can practice beforehand. However, things take a rather dark and unexpected turn when St.Clare's when his intended goes missing and a beautiful young female is delivered for the to-be surgeon's to practice their skills...7. Some Terrible Letters from Scotland / James Hogg (1832)☆☆☆Not much to really say about this one other than it does what it says it does. It contains three fictional letters relating to a genuine cholera epidemic in Scotland which killed almost 10,000 people from 1831-2. The final letter has more of a ghostly tale that is quite enjoyable to read.8. The Curse / Anonymous (1832)☆☆☆☆This story wasn't so bad actually! The narrator retells his story with a combination of sorrow and repentance for a horrible act he committed in his youth. Returning home from abroad he dreams of nothing more than to be wed to the beautiful Helen but fears she could have been struck ill or dead so he visits the cemetery first. An old man begins to tell him the tale of two lovers that died many years before and how a curse had been placed on three generations of the family that murdered the husband. Realising that he is part of said family, the third generation, he quickly goes off to find his family where he makes a fatal mistake in a fit of madness which costs him everything.9. Life in Death / Anonymous (1833)☆☆☆This one was rather disappointing. Life in Death focused on a dying man who gave a phial of liquid to his son in that belief that it would grant him new life and youth. The son gives a drop to his father three days after death and he begins to re-animate to a degree before the son puts a stop to it. Years later, when he has had his own family and raised them in a strictly religious household, he asks his own son to do the same as his father asked him. He attributes the liquid to be of God's work and that his son should not fear it. When he dies the son uses the liquid and his father reanimates, causing his face to grow youthful and beautiful again. Alas, the rest of the tale is not a happy one as it does not go to plan! Doesn't quite have the same effect as Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.10. My Hobby, - Rather / N. P. Willis (1834)☆☆☆Very short but rather effective! I can't say much about this tale without giving it away!11. The Red Man / Catherine Gore (1835)☆☆☆I didn't like this one as much as I thought I would. I found it confusing in a way, though maybe I just wasn't following it so well. I didn't quite understand how the title did fit in with the tale until I then realised the 'red' symbolised the rust of the iron. The main theme is that of crime and punishment of that time and pre-revolution (as the story itself was set in Paris).The narrator meets an old scrap iron merchant by the name of Balthazar and is told a horrible tale of how the bones of a woman's hand came to be encased in an iron manacle. Balthazar's story is filled with adultery, lies, pain and murder all of which leads to a shocking end for the poor woman that it is about.12. Post-mortem Recollections of a Medical Lecturer / Charles Lever (1836)☆☆☆In essence, this is a very detailed and gripping account of being near death due to an illness which is based on a severe real life illness that Lever had suffered from. The fictional element incorporated into this tale is the threat that the narrator felt of being buried alive and being unable to show himself to be awake.13. The Bride of Lindorf / Letitia E. Landon (1836)☆☆☆☆☆I absolutely loved this one! With themes of insanity, incest and unrequited love, it made for quite an interesting read. Although his mother is making plans for him to marry his cousin Pauline, Ernest, an eccentric young nobleman, discovers a secret staircase to a beautiful woman, Minna. Minna claims she is being kept from her birthright by her uncle, the Baron. As Ernest falls for her he soon finds that all is not what it seems. There then follows a tragic end for one of the characters.14. Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess / Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1838)☆☆☆☆☆This tale, doubled with The Bride of Lindorf, are my favourite two in this entire book. The female narrator, Margaret, the heiress to her father's fortune, finds herself in the guardianship of her Uncle - an uncle who is being investigated for murder. Believing him to be innocent, she lives quite comfortably until she begins to realise that he has a darker side. Furthermore she is uncomfortable by the attentions of his son, Edward, and soon finds there is a plot against her for her money when she refuses Edward's hand. The story has a most unhappy ending for Margaret's young cousin Emily, her beloved friend.Overall The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre is worth a read with some gems of stories in there!

  • Christopher Hafer
    2019-03-30 17:18

    With the return of Bungalow weather, I was able to finish the ghost story competition between the legendary Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, and their physician John Polidori. Originally agreed upon in a mansion in "The Year Without a Summer", 1816, this edition contains two out of three from the competition: Polidori's The Vampyre and Lord Byron's Augustus Darvell. This edition DOES NOT include Frankenstein. Since it was a competition, my ranking is as follows:1] Frankenstein by Mary Shelley2] Augustus Darvell by Lord Byron. I wish he would've finished it.3] The Vampyre by John Polidori

  • Bethany Lundeen
    2019-03-22 23:26

    Two good stars for the influence The Vampyre has had in later fiction, and for Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's "Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess." Most of the tales were bland and dense so I ended up skipping a lot of them.

  • Caitlin Jones
    2019-04-09 17:12

    This is such a fascinating read, particularly after reading Dracula- Aubrey and Johnathan have quite a lot in common. It is more 18th century Gothic than the later vampire novels, which I like a lot. Small beginnings for a big genre.

  • Tom Bevan
    2019-04-09 22:32

    I love this stuff. But i find reading 19th century style writing tough going. Well worth a read, if only for the Ribbonmen tale, the historical account of the murder of an innocent family by the IRA’s precursors.

  • Max Rudd
    2019-04-05 21:08

    An excellent collection of tales, most of which are new to me. Packed with enlightening explanatory notes and even a sliver of Byron.While all the stories were enjoyable I highly recommend the offerings from Edward Bulwer, Letitia E. Landon and Allan Cunningham.

  • Brooke
    2019-04-07 16:33

    had to read this for class, it wasn't too bad

  • Wolfie
    2019-03-19 19:17

    Some stories vastly superior to others, took far too long to read

  • Jamie
    2019-04-07 16:32

    Ffffffrick yes

  • Sam
    2019-03-25 17:16

    A thoroughly chilling collection of tales, not so much scary but morbid and ghoulish. The Vampyre is the first time a vampire has been portrayed in the higher classes of society and is subtly written and lays the ground work for every vampire tale since, including Stoker's Dracula.Sir Guy Eveling's Dream seems a tale of love and romance although with an under current of forbodding and dread that doesn't reveal it's reason until the last page with a rather unexpected twist.Confessions of a Reformed Ribbonman tells the tale of a group of Catholic Ribbonmen who take 'revenge' on a Protestant family for standing up to some Catholic theives in a gruesome and inhuman fashion which is all the more poignant today given the long history of the Troubles.Monos and Daimonos is a particularly chilling tale of one man trying to escape the company of another who ends up taking somewhat drastic action after being stranded together on a deserted island. Despite his best efforts his companion doesn't and will never leave his side.The Master of Logan is a cautionary tale of a man with no respect for the dead that comes back to haunt him in a very cleverly consealed way that is only exposed by the clever quick thinking of a local parson.The Victim plays on the fears following the Burke and Hare killings in 1828 and details the story of two medical students who purchase a corpse for their dissection classes only to find that it is the beloved on one of the young men. A sad and sombre tale that remains poignant even today where such practises have been stopped.Some Terrible Letters from Scotland is set during a Cholera epidemic and describes the fear felt throughout villages and towns as the disease spreads.The Curse is a dark and macabre love story showing the dedication of two lovers in the face of descrimination and death and how the evil done against them remains to haunt the perpetrators and their family.Life in Death is a very disturbing tale of a man who has discovered eternal life and asks his son to annoint his body with a tonic upon his death. The son does not grant this wish but keeps it for himself and teaches his children to be strictly religious so upon his own death they will annoint his body and bring him back to youthful life. However all does not go to plan when only part of him is annointed, which is interpretated to be the work of the Devil and appropriate action taken.My Hobby is a somewhat disturbing tale of how a domestic cat attempts to feed on a corpse during the wake prior to burial.The Red Man is a creeping and saddening tale of how a father is cheated by his wife, flees and returns upon her death to act as a guardian to his child (who believes him to be her uncle) and how she slowly becomes like her mother causing him to snap and lock her away in a somewhat bizarre and inhuman manner. A strange tale where you don't know who to feel pity or sympathy for.Post Mortem Recollections is a tale about a descent into maddness that is both sudden and unexpected that leads to the victim being thought dead and taken for burial and how this continues to effect his mind even once he has been found to be living.The Bride of Lindorf is an interesting tale of a family's secret that ultimately destroys the lives of many. A cautionary tale to sit and think rather than rush into action without the full story and all the facts.Secret History follows the life of an Irish Countess who following her father's death is sent to live with her uncle who had once been accused of murder. Her father believed him innocent however as events unfold it is apparent that this is not the case.

  • Drew
    2019-04-03 20:11

    Having heard of the ghost story competition among Lord Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley, and Byron's physician John Polidori in the summer of 1816 beside Lake Geneva, I was eager to read Polidori's story that came out of the night, one of the founding vampire stories, especially one that moved the vampire from a rural setting to urban high society. At the 2014 Washington Antiquarian Book Festival, I actually saw a copy of the Polidori's original story, falsely attributed to Lord Byron (corrected in the second edition). This edition from Oxford World Classics included not only Polidori's The Vampyre, but also 13 other short stories that appeared, mostly in magazines from the 1820s through the 1830s.I have to say that I wasn't as impressed with Polidori's story as I thought I would be. J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla was a much better vampire story, but then again, it had a literary tradition to build upon, including the groundwork laid by Polidori. I thought that Polidori's story could have been better, especialy if he'd developed it a bit more.William Carleton's Confessions of a Reformed Ribbonman was a horrific story of a religious/political revenge that included a home burning and lynching. It was more a true crime confession, but still quite shocking.Edward Bulwer's Monos and Diamonos started off as almost a skeletal sketch, but it built up like a Le Fanu short stories from In a Glass Darkly. I thoroughly enjoyed it!James Hogg's Some Terrible Letters from Scotland was terrifying. It centered around a cholera outbreak. It was made up of three letters, which included themes of almost being buried alive, social shunning and ghostly visits. The first letter remindede of Le Fanu's writings.There were two anonymous stories in this collection that I liked. First was The Curse, which showed how quickly the descent into madness can happen to not deal with a tragedy. It also showed how madness can be a refuge from reality. The second story was Life in Death. You saw what was coming very early one, but it still gave me the shivers. I can only wonder at its reception in 1833!I have to say I was very pleased that this collection included one of the masters of this genre, and one of my favorite writers from the 19th century. Le Fanu's Secret History of an Irish Countess is perfect. It includes his classic pacing, building terror, and a sense of the macabre. As always, it was pure reading joy. And the footnotes said this story was expanded into one of Le Fanu's most popular novels, Uncle Silas. That novel sits on my shelf and I can't wait to get to it!

  • M
    2019-03-20 23:30

    This was a fairly interesting book, and even though I didn't like all of the stories, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The introduction had some fascinating material in it, and I learned a lot about horror stories in the early 19th century. It's given me a few books and other things to look into to learn and read more, which is always nice. As always, Polidori's The Vampyre is a fun read, even if it's not the greatest vampire story ever. This edition has some really nice supplementary material, including the preface that was published with the story when it first appeared. I really liked getting more of the context around the story, especially the bit where an editor of the original magazine briefly explains vampire lore of the time. Some of the stories weren't that exciting to me, since they were old enough for me to either easily guess twist or not be scared of the fear they embodied. Stories of dying and them coming back to life just don't quite work for me. However, there were some excellent tales here. Confessions of a Reformed Ribbonman lacked any supernatural element but more than makes up for it with a chilling depiction of inhumanity and cruelty. The Master of Logan was a fun ghost story with some interesting background in Scottish religious issues. The Victim was a predictable but still creepy story inspired by the sadly real phenomena of people being murdered to provide bodies for dissection. My Hobby, Rather was short but it managed to create a rather creepy image that gave me a nice scare. Finally, the Sheridan Le Fanu story was definitely the best. I came to this book because I had a hankering for Gothic tales of moldy old castles with secret passages and murderous relatives, and boy did he deliver. He apparently later expanded the short story into the novel Uncle Silas, which I definitely plan to seek out. All in all, although there were a fair number of stories that I wasn't that fond of, I had a great time reading this collection. There are some good scares and it's fascinating to learn about the history of the horror genre.

  • TheVampireBookworm
    2019-03-20 18:04

    Alright, I successfully defended my diploma thesis yesterday (so long, university education, I’ll miss you) so I’m gonna start releasing reviews of the books I used in it. It’s not excerpts from my thesis because it wasn’t focused on that but hey, those books are still in my memory since I spent so many hours analyzing them, an therefore I can bring you my point of view.Lord Ruthven is the first vampire to enter Anglo-American prose, and that’s why I’m going to talk rather fondly of it even though it has a ton of mistakes and unclear motifs in it.This short story is a great example of incorporating the father figure theme into vampire fiction (doesn’t that make Herr Freud happy) and even though the vampire as we know it today is a weak creature who needs daggers to defend himself in the story, lets just appreciate the effort Polidori made to rewrite Byron’s story which had led nowhere and made it into even weirder story which led nowhere but which introduced a very convenient character to plague the book-reading part of humankind.There is a beautiful motif of the power of the moon when it comes to the vampire rejuvenation so I’m going to look away from the stupid oath the main character must keep and just point in the direction of the Greek folktales mentioned in the story. Plus the ending, oh, the cunning demon escaping after achieving everything he wanted to maybe resurface in your own home! Oh, the chills down our spines! :-)=And what legacy could possibly this piece bring? Well, why not use the vampire as a means of dealing with our anxieties and tabooish subjects we are afraid to address directly. Through the character of vampire the future writers could deal with such tasks quite elegantly while spooking the hell out of their readers.So thank you, Mr Polidori, it was high time the English suppressed emotions could run free in the evil metaphor called vampire.

  • Timothy Morrow
    2019-04-07 23:18

    *Confession* I have only read the first tale, "The Vampyre" in this volume, but that is only because I had only the desire to do so and no further. I chose this edition because that is the one I have physically within my own library. Now on for a review on John William Polidori's tale. I first heard about this tale in English class, finding out this was the original Vampire story. Since then I searched and researched until I had it within my possession. I love Dracula and it holds a warm spot in my heart. Naturally I would be excited to read a older vampire tale.What interested me even further would be in the interesting fact that Polidori wrote the Vampyre in a cabin as an entry to a contest he was having with a Mary Shelley to find the spookiest story. Frankenstein was born and so was the Vampyre. Two of the most famous horror creatures emerged out of mankind's imagination almost at the same time, What an interesting idea! The Vampyre stands no where near Frankenstein. Comparing the two books may seem a tad unfair, but I do not see it that way at all. My complaints...The length is sadly too short. What John William- wrote had amazing potential. I just wish it was longer. The characters were set up, the story wasn't horrible in the least. but with the pages not quite fitting the needed amount, this tale sadly failed. My last complaint would be the main character. Although I respected his passion and love for his companion in the story, he was mostly flat. He didn't have anything interesting about himself. He was obsessed with the Vampyre male character but didn't have much else except that. I blame the length again for this fault. I am still a huge fan of vampires, and quite glad I had the opportunity to see the origin, I just wish it wasn't so incomplete....Timothy~

  • Robert Hepple
    2019-03-30 17:15

    A small collection of macabre short stories first published over the years 1819 to 1838. Most of the authors achieved a lot of success in their time, but are, arguably, rarely heard of nowadays. Some of the stories contain supernatural elements, but most rely on the macabre possibilities of the real world, and in some cases take inspiration from contemporary events like the Burke and Hare murders or the cholera epidemics of the time. The lead story ‘The Vampyre’ has a clear supernatural background and a great deal is rightly made of its influence on subsequent vampire fiction, even though the story is not that special and is considerably shorter than the notes that discuss it and its background. All of the stories have that 19th century melodramatic style that is very much an acquired taste, but really does wonders for the atmosphere of the stories. A terrific selection for fans of short 19th century fiction.

  • Val
    2019-03-26 20:22

    John Polidori was Byron's doctor and friend, and he was present at the famous ghost story session by Lake Geneva which led to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein. He was the only other member of the group who got around to writing a story."The Vampyre" does not try to address as many concerns of the day as "Frankenstein", it is a short, straight gothic tale and a very good one. The vampyre in question may owe something to the character of Byron.Some of the other tales are not as good, but they are all worth reading and may lead to readers discovering new old authors in the genre.

  • Rhianon Visinsky
    2019-04-01 21:19

    The Vampyre is the original aristocratic vampire tale. Long before Dracula was written, Lord Ruthven gave vampires a good (er...good-bad) name. What's more interesting than the fictional story is the circumstances under which it may have been inspired. Lake Geneva. Lord Byron, the Shelley's, Mary Shelley's sister, and a doctor named John Polidori...stormy summer with little sun. A volcano had erupted and ruined the summer sky for everyone. A ghost story contest and a little banter between friends, perhaps more. Lord Ruthven is suspiciously similar to Lord Byron.