F. Marion Crawford’s For the Blood is the Life: A Two-Minute Evaluation of the Traditional Vampire Story

Right now the phrase “vampire” conjures quick photos of courtly males exuding an aristocratic masculinity – tall, darkish, and good-looking. Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Brad Pitt, Frank Langella. However earlier than Bram Stoker the phrase “vampire” had an virtually universally feminine connotation: the femme fatale, the lustful seductress. That is patently apparent within the arts, the place work titled “The Vampire” overwhelmingly function feminine topics: Edvard Munch’s 1893 portray reveals a redheaded vixen plunging her enamel into the neck of a bowing suitor; Sir Philip Burne-Jones’ extremely erotic 1897 print reveals a unadorned girl straddling an unconscious man, crowing over his lifeless physique; Ernst Stoehr’s 1899 illustration depicts a lady gleefully pinning a screaming man to the earth – her naked breasts sway beneath her, her eyes and enamel gleam. In literature, the feminine vampire is a creature as historical in human mythology because the alluring Sirens of Homer, the mortifying Medusa, and the bloodthirsty lamia and strix – feminine eaters of males in Greek mythology. The Romantics took up the mantle of Greek Antiquity: Goethe launched the murderous “Bride of Corinth,” Coleridge gave us his leprous specter, “Life-in-Loss of life,” and his lizard-hided lesbian Geraldine, whereas Keats generated the ambiguous however sinister “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” and Poe’s Sirens included the willful Ligeia, Morella, and Madeline Usher. To not be beat, Le Fanu provided up his masterpiece within the character of the Byronic seductress Carmilla – the consummate lesbian vampire, who’s regularly depicted as Dracula’s feminine counterpart (certainly, “Dracula” was a properly written rip off of “Carmilla”).. Within the Edwardian interval Arthur Conan Doyle featured the trope in “John Barrington Cowles” (whereby a hypnotic sadist – implied to derive sexual pleasure from whipping her servant and harming canine – seduces a person and drives him to his demise), F. G. Loring famously used it in “The Tomb of Sarah” – a one hit marvel that continues to be a vampire traditional – and even Bram Stoker made a feminine vampire the topic of his Dracula prequel, “Dracula’s Visitor.”  

 

“For the Blood is the Life” actually owes an awesome deal to Keats, Poe, and Le Fanu particularly, in addition to Arthur Machen (for it’s an unmistakable cousin of “The Nice God Pan” and its fiancé-killing femme fatale, Helen Vaughan). Like “The Tomb of Sarah,” it has change into a cult traditional, properly represented in vampire anthologies. It contributes little to the dialog – basically rephrasing an excellent ghost story by way of a vampire story – however is properly written, compelling, and noteworthy for a number of chilling moments. It stays one in every of Crawford’s most well-known tales, maybe solely bested by “The Higher Berth.” The narrator is visiting his pal — a Scandinavian artist dwelling in an Italian villa — and the 2 take pleasure in a pipe on his balcony, overlooking a moon-drenched panorama. Within the nightfall the narrator appears to choose up on an odd mound of earth — gravelike and solemn. His host acknowledges that it’s certainly a grave. What’s extra, nonetheless, the customer swears that he sees the determine of a lady in white stretched out over the mound. That is additionally no trick of the moonlight, the host calmly assures him: it’s a phantom that seems within the moonlight regularly, however one which is simply seen from far-off. To show his level, he walks to the grave and stands the place the determine was. Nonetheless in a position to see It, the narrator is horrified to witness the Factor — invisible to his host — writhing up and down his physique in supplication. Completely shocked, the visitor calls for to know the backstory of this tragic determine. The stoic artist tells him how a love triangle (between an boastful boy named Angelo, his devoted admirer, a Gypsy lady named Cristina, and her personal admirer, a dejected shepherd named Maratea) result in Cristina’s dramatic homicide by the hands of robbers, who killed her whereas making off with Angelo’s inheritance. Wild and sensual whereas alive, and lower down within the ardour of her love for Angelo, her vampiric ghost returned from the grave to courtroom Angelo in her shroud. Depressed at his sudden poverty, Angelo accepts the overtures of the attractive phantom — a lady he believes to be the topic of a dream — and the 2 consummate their annoyed love on her grave. When Angelo awakes, nonetheless, he’s on the damp floor, and it’s clear that his nightmare has extra actuality to it than he would care to admit. All through the story’s the rest, the artist particulars how Angelo’s necrophilic encounters sucked him deeper and deeper into Cristina’s spell, and his hair-breadth escape left her spirit mired in everlasting distress.

 

In European folklore, there are much more methods for an individual to change into a vampire than by way of an contaminated chunk or a Satanic discount. A number of the hottest causes of vampirism have been suicide (in all probability the MOST standard), dying whereas nonetheless a virgin, dying younger, being murdered, attempting unique sexual acts, partaking in witchcraft, or – watch for it – having your corpse jumped over by a canine or cat earlier than burial. In Cristina’s case it appears to be a mixture of implied participation within the black arts and the violent method of her demise. Many students consider that legends like this may occasionally have been unfold to discourage acts of violence (you could be much less more likely to kill that man you simply robbed for those who concern he may return from the useless), and tales like this have been extensively unfold throughout Central and Southern Europe. Germanic, Slavic, and Mediterranean international locations notably perpetuated vampire tales (French, Norse, and British cultures have been dominated by the seductive fairies, kidnapping elves, and murderous demons standard in Nordic and Celtic folklore, making vampires a tad redundant). Crawford was most well-known throughout his lifetime for his Italian settings and his correct depiction of life within the Mediterranean. Whereas we can not know for certainty if this story – which sounds so little like literary fiction and a lot like a people story – it could not be stunning within the least contemplating his coziness with Italian tradition and his dedication to exposing readers in Britain and America to a slice of the Mediterranean expertise.

 

You’ll be able to learn the unique story HERE

 

And yow will discover our assortment of Crawford’s finest horror HERE

 

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