The Emergence of the Sympathetic or Reluctant Vampire in Twentieth-Century Culture

Following my post on the sympathetic witch I should add that I am thinking of Dark Shadows (1966-1971) as being the vampire equivalent of Bewitched (1964-72) and Barnabas Collins as the wonderfully reluctant vampire. Here’s the classic moment when Barnabas Collins is freed from his coffin inadvertently founding the entire modern tradition of the sympathetic vampire (the twentieth-century equivalent of Polidori launching the Byronic vampire in literature in the nineteenth century)

I suppose from this we can look to Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula Tape (1975) which retells the story of the Count from Dracula’s point of view. Once we get a vampire to tell the tale instead of a tale being told about a vampire everything changes and the inversion is almost complete, paving the way for Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire (1975). In this as with Saberhagen we get a tape instead of a Tepes, a nod to the fascination with new technologies that so preoccupied Bram Stoker, who references everything from the phonograph to the Kodak camera, all of which are used to track the monstrous vampire in the novel.

About Lucy Northenra

Senior Lecturer in Literature, University of Hertfordshire

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