Bloodthirsty for Love
Vampires, or the “undead”, are mythological creatures said to subsist on the blood of their human victims.
Belief in vampires and other such supernatural creatures that lurk in the shadows and prey on hapless human beings is perhaps as old as man himself, and it is possible that vampire superstition came to the west from East European cultures.
The world’s most famous vampire is unquestionably Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula (1897), but John Polidori created the charismatic, aristocratic and sophisticated vampire that dominates modern vampire fiction, in “The Vampyre”, much earlier in 1819.
Polidori’s short story is widely believed to have been inspired by Lord Byron. Byron, Polidori and Mary Shelley spent several days together in the summer of 1816 – time they spent exchanging and writing stories. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Polidori’s “The Vampyre” are products of their time together.
The New Genre
Dracula was as evil, scheming and bloodthirsty a villain as anyone could hope for. Modern vampire stories have tended to move away from simplistic pure horror where innocent humans are mercilessly hunted by malevolent vampires.
The popular modern vampire series of today assign complex, almost-human personalities to their vampire characters, and horror is only one of the elements in these stories, often subjugated by romance.
- In “True Blood”, vampires coexist with humans in mainstream society after the invention of synthetic blood (named true blood) by Japanese scientists; thus doing away with their reliance on human blood to survive. The show’s telepathic protagonist falls in love with a charismatic vampire.
- Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight is a love story between a human and a mysterious, handsome vampire who drinks only animal blood.
- Christine Feehan’s “The Dark Series” introduces the Carpathians who drink human blood, but do not kill their prey. Human-vampire romance is prominent here too.