Review of “The Vampyre” by John William Polidori

John William Polidori 1795-1821 (from Wikimedia)

John William Polidori
    (from Wikimedia)

Today I finished reading “The Vampyre” by John William Polidori.  Polidori was a friend of Lord Byron and wrote this story during the famous writing contest between Byron, Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Shelley, in which Mary Shelley wrote the initial draft of “Frankenstein” (see my post on Polidori and “The Vampyre” dated July 12, 2013).  Tonight I wrote up a quick review for Goodreads, which I have pasted here for your enjoyment.  I gave the story three stars out of five.

“The action was somewhat fast moving and the ending unexpected, but the plot is rather simple and the narration is hampered by a lack of dialog. There are probably less than five lines of dialog in the entire story of 9,223 words (I copied and pasted the story from the Project Gutenberg version minus the “Extract of a Letter from Geneva” and the “Extract of a Letter Containing an Account of Lord Byron’s Residence in the Island of Mitylene” into Word then used their word count feature). One interesting aspect of Lord Ruthven’s (the vampire) character is that he cannot survive on just anyone’s blood; he has to feed only on the blood of those he loves. That would make an interesting twist to any vampire tale. As the Goodreads summary notes, this is also the start of the motif of the vampire as aristocratic seducer. While this story is probably of mediocre quality at best for today’s literary audiences, it is interesting from the perspective of literary history as the origin of today’s vampire stories and all the cultural offshoots that have sprung from those (such as the Goth movement). Bottom line: it’s worth taking the time to read, especially if one has an interest in the historical basis for today’s horror literature and the vampire subculture.”

Thoughts?  Comments?


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