Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


The Vampyre by John William Polidori

"The Vampyre",  published 1819, is considered the first vampyre story in English literature and the one turning the vampyre folklore into the classic tale, the mythical vampyre into the aristocratic, cultivated, intellectual and seductive creature. A young man, Aubrey, becomes fascinated with the mysterious Lord Ruthven that has entered London society. They travel to Rome, but Aubrey leaves Lord Ruthven due to certain circumstances. The next time they met, Aubrey's view of him would change irrevocable.

In this short story, the vampyre isn't charming as in later stories. He's egoistical, sadistic, ruthless and without empathy. He doesn't want to be a nice person. He wants to use people for his benefit. He is very generous when giving to people, with the seemingly good purpose of charity, but only to people that will use his money to end up in an even worse situation.

A great issue for Aubrey is whether to keep his word or save the one he cares about - which can seem absurd since most people would break their promises to save their loved ones. A word isn't always that much worth today. Back then, giving someone your word was probably something highly valued and irreversible.

There is not so much character development, as in many short stories, but the main characters are very interesting. Despite an almost non-existent dialogue the prose isn't heavy at all. The story is thrilling and Aubrey's anxiety and fear are felt by the reader.

This short story is immensely influential. It began in the early 1800's when the author elite - Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley, and Claire Clairmont - came together at the Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Among these authors were Byron's physician, John William Polidori. They decided to write a horror-story. This is a historical moment. Lord Byron and Percy Shelley discarded their stories, perhaps because they thought nothing could compare to poetry. Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" and Polidori used Byron's discarded attempt and wrote "The vampyre". Thus, this story is a work by both of them, and furthermore, the characters Lord Ruthven and Aubrey are based on Lord Byron and Polidori. Neither of them wanted it to be published, but nevertheless, it was.

It's impossible to describe the impact these people had and still have on authors and readers. What did they talk about? What fascinated them? These works of literature are only a small part, a tiny glimpse, of their strong imagination.

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