by Joanna Wagner
(San Francisco CA)

Carmilla, the story. There are many film adaptations, none of them very good.

Most people think Dracula was the first big vampire story. I don't dispute the magnitude of Bram Stoker's accomplishment The novel Dracula is a wonderfully written. I really like his use of letters and journal entries to develop characters and get inside their heads without using a narration from the writer.

More so than in film adaptations, you get to know Lucy intimately and feel sadness at her demise.

But the fact is much of what he used was premiered 25 years earlier in 1872 by an Irish writer, J. Sheridan LeFanu in the novella Carmilla.

The modern beautiful, charming vampires of Interview With the Vampire and True Blood owe much more to LeFanu's story than Dracula.

The story is still in print and can be downloaded for free or in a paper book as part of the anthology, In a Glass Darkly. Carmilla is much depicted in art, usually as a dark, sinister creature with blood on her mouth and dressed like a modern day Goth or wearing nothing at all.

The character as described in the book is not at all like that. She has a languid beauty and looks very much like an aristocratic young woman of the time and was when she was alive. That is what made her so dangerous. The picture link to this image is the truest I've found to the authors original vision.

The book was written at the height of the Victorian era yet seethes with latent lesbian eroticism between Carmilla and Laura, the narrator of the story. Strangely, there has never been a good film rendition of the story.

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