Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Project Proposal

For my final project I am going to write a piece of fanfiction from Claudia's point of view, focusing mostly on the time before she met Louis and then the changes she went through emotionally as well as physically afterwards. I found it fascinating she is a child vampire, unable to grow up and become a woman no matter how long she lives and I want to expand upon what she might have felt. Of course I am going to use Interview with the Vampire and use passages that expand upon Claudia's character.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Interview with the Vampire part 2

Out of all the characters in Interview with the Vampire, I can relate most to the reporter boy, or Daniel as it is later discovered his name is. What I think is interesting about his character is that in Interview, we don’t know his name and that makes him easy to relate to perhaps because we can put ourselves in his place. We see Louis’ story through the recordings, and the reporter boy is only there as a person for Louis to tell his story to. Daniel could really be anyone at all, which is why it is easy to place ourselves in the story as him.

The reporter boy is almost childlike in a way. He is very curious and innocent and naïve. Several times during the interview he interrupts Louis and asks questions we as the audience no doubt have as well.

“Lestat said something blasphemous and gave him the rosary…”

“But…” The boy started.

“Yes?” Said the vampire. “I’m afraid I don’t allow you to ask enough questions.”

“I was going to ask, rosaries have crosses on them, don’t they?”

“Oh the rumor about crosses!” the vampire laughed. “You refer to our being afraid of crosses?”

“Unable to look on them, I thought,” said the boy.

“Nonsense my friend, sheer nonsense. I can look on anything I like. And I rather like looking on crucifixes in particular.” (p.23)

“As you can see, my face is rather white and has a smooth, highly reflective surface, rather like that of polished marble.”

“Yes.” The boy nodded and appeared flustered. “It’s very….beautiful actually,” said the boy. (p.46)

I think that because of this, it is easy to see the boy (or the reader) becoming infatuated with the prospect of an immortal life. People are enamored with the romantic aspect of vampirism, and because they only think of the romantic aspect they fail to see all the miseries that are connected with it. Louis tries to stress the point that an immortal life is not necessarily a wonderful life. He has to feed, and animals are not substantial enough; that means taking a life is necessary. Murder is necessary. And not all vampires lose their sense of consciousness. Louis is tortured because he is plagued by the idea of taking another human life, because he still feels connected to them. Unlike Lestat and Claudia, or the vampires of the Theatre des Vampires, Louis is unable to kill without remorse.

He tries to explain this to the reporter boy but of course, Daniel is blinded by his infatuation and he does not fully understand the consequences of the total devastation and loneliness that come with becoming immortal. He is a foolish character, but I cannot say that I would do any differently. He has the chance of a lifetime in front of him, even if it may very well result in his death.

“Don’t you see how you made it sound? It was an adventure like I’ll never know in my whole life! You talk about passion, you talk about longing! You talk about things that millions of us won’t ever taste or come to understand. […] If you were to give me that power! The power to see and feel and live forever!” (p.337)

I can see myself feeling the exact same way if I were faced with the option of immortal life. It isn’t quite smart to jump into a decision like that and he didn’t go about it the right way but I can understand why he did; I would have done the same.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Literary Criticism

Vampires and Homoeroticism

Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles represents a fierce fascination with homosexual culture as demonstrated in her first book of the series, Interview with the Vampire. Her characters represent gay men in a fairly modern society and their trials and tribulations always focus on or include a strong obsession with another male vampire or man that they intend to have for themselves. Her queer characters are vividly portrayed as beautiful, god-like creatures and they are easy to fall in love with, whether you are a reader or a character in the book, almost immediately you are drawn to them like a moth to a flame. However her characters also represent a darkness that can be likened to society’s fear of the taboo…including homosexual relationships.
In Haggerty’s essay, he explores the possible ideas why we are so infatuated with this taboo culture, this realm of homoeroticism. “[T]hey at least offer a précis of some of our most deeply held cultural assumptions […] The sine qua non with which this author mesmerizes her readers, however, is homoerotic desire.” (Haggerty) Rice’s way of entrancing her readers, her vampire novels all have that key element, that sine qua non of homosexual desire. As we can see in Interview with the Vampire, this is particularly evident in several ways. As Haggerty points out, “Interview with the Vampire begins in the gay district of San Francisco, and the scene between the vampire Louis and the gay “boy” who interview him, after they have met in a “bar”, is a straight forward parody of a queer seduction. This cannot be accidental: Rice is interested in male-male desire and uses the imagery of gay life to give her characters substance and texture.”
The vampire and homoeroticism often go hand and hand, Rice simply brings it to a whole new level focusing mainly on the obsession and the lust. I find her writing to be incredibly engaging, and like Haggerty, I wonder why I am so drawn to it as many other people in our contemporary age are. After all, it sold millions of copies world-wide. Clearly, there is something about the fascination of homoeroticism that lures us in, even if we may be ashamed to admit it.
Lestat is perhaps the central character in the Vampire Chronicles series. We are obsessed with all of Rice’s characters, but perhaps the most vivid and fascinating of them all is the vampire Lestat.  Elegant, powerful, thoughtful, and queer, Lestat offers a different version of masculinity. He starts as a rock star in the seventies, at the time of the publication of Interview with a Vampire, and then travels back and forth through history and culture to find himself a suave and self-assured international financier who, in the latest volume of the Chronicles, is invited to witness and pass judgment on heaven and hell. The Dorian Gray of our nineties, he remains witty, beautiful, and forever young. At the same time, for all his stature, Lestat is the passive, the bloodied, the castrated male.” (Haggerty)
 Although in Interview, the focus is mainly on Louis and his inner struggles, Lestat is a key component to his character and his development. Lestat is, “[The] prototypical gay predator, roving in the darkness with an insatiable appetite that is usually satisfied by the blood of a troubled, but beautiful male.” (Haggerty) Lestat desires Louis, he lusts for him and he will do anything within his power to get what he wants. “Now listen to me, Louis.’ He said, and he lay down beside me now on the steps, is movement so graceful and so personal that at once it made me think of a lover. I recoiled. But he put his right arm around me and pulled me close to his chest. Never had I been this close to him before, and in the dim light I could see the magnificent radiance of his eye and the unnatural mask of his skin. As I tried to move, he pressed his right fingers against my lips and said, ‘Be still. I am going to drain you now to the very threshold of death.’ […] I wanted to struggle, but he pressed so hard with his fingers that he held my entire prone body in check; and as soon as I stopped my abortive attempt at rebellion, he sank his teeth into my neck.” (p.18-19) Lestat even goes as far as to take a young child and turn her into a vampire, despite any repercussions poor Claudia has to endure afterwards. “Now, Louis was going to leave us,’ said Lestat, his eyes moving from my face to hers. ‘He was going to go away. But now he’s not. Because he wants to stay here and take care of you and make you happy.’ He looked at me, ‘You’re not going are you Louis?” (p.93) To a certain extent, Lestat controls Louis. However his actions are not out of love, but out of anger and revenge. Lestat is a bitter character; he is twisted and perhaps slightly crazy as is evident through his actions. Lestat may be a hungry predator that reaches out to seduce Louis, but essentially he fails. Louis proves to be a stronger character than Lestat predicted in the end. There is always a thick tension within the pages of Rice’s works that revolve around that idea of sexual tension, particularly around these two characters. There are many moments of attempted seduction and tries to become the one in control.
Other characters that display moments of affection in a homosexual manner are Louis and his brother, and Armand and Daniel. Louis describes his brother in an affectionate way, using terms that one might use describing their lover. “He was very handsome then. He had the smoothest skin and the largest blue eyes. He was robust, not thin as I am now and was then…but his eyes…it was as if when I looked into his eyes I was standing alone on the edge of the world…on a windswept ocean beach. There was nothing but the soft roar of the waves.” (p.7) Louis seems almost jealous, unwilling to give up his brother to anyone else, even religion. His ego, his desire gets in the way. And while it does not happen in Interview, Daniel (the boy reporter) is fascinated, obsessed with finding Lestat. However, it is actually with Armand that he becomes involved with.
Why are we so obsessed with Rice’s characters, with her themes of homoeroticism? This question is not an easy one to answer at all, but there is something about Anne Rice’s works that entrance the reader and we can’t help but fall in love with the infamous vampire men of the Chronicles series. “Glamour is part of what these vampires are about, to be sure, but I see a more complex relation between Rice’s gorgeous creatures and late-twentieth century cultural conservatism.” (Haggerty) These creations, these vampires are so taboo that these books are a stark contrast to cultural conservatism, where there are strict rules of what is acceptable and limitations on change. These vampires are rebels, and the rebel captures the heart of many that wish to be able to express themselves that freely. However, these creations are too good to be true. “For those of us who are gay, it may seem almost too good to be true that these queer figures go down so well, that they leap out of their darkened hiding places into the hearts of millions. I think Rice’s vampires express our culture’s secret desire for and secret fear of the gay man; the need to fly with him beyond the confines of heterosexual convention […] to an exploration of unauthorized desires.” (Haggerty) We both fear and love vampires.
“Readers of The Vampire Chronicles are offered a conflicted relation to Lestat and his posturing. They are like the audience in the Theatre of the Vampires: they desire a voyeuristic participation in something they want to believe and disbelieve at the same time. Their attraction to these creatures of the night is also a repulsion. They need to witness the homoerotics of this world and to reject its power at the same time. This is an uncanny relation but also a tremendously powerful one.” (Haggerty) Vampires will always have a certain allure about them, their taboo nature will tempt us but at the same time we feel we must resist the desire to act indecently and give in. The Vampire Chronicles is our guilty pleasure.

Haggerty, George E. "Anne Rice and the Queering of Culture." N.d. D2L. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.

Rice, Anne. Interview with the Vampire. New York: Ballantine Books, n.d. Print. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Am Legend Part Two

I Am Legend is such an interesting read, it brings me through such a turbulence of emotions that only a good suspense novel can. What intrigues me in each of the novels we read are the differences and similarities between the vampires. This is the first book we have read where the focus is on more than one vampire, the focus is on the bulk of humanity that has become infected. The tables have been turned as Robert Neville is in the minority now. He is immune to the disease and thus able to fight the vampires. In other novels we have looked at, the humans are in the majority and the vampires (or singular vampire) are the ones that need to hide from humanity. Now, it is the other way around, Neville has to hide himself from the vampires.

This is a very common "us versus them" scenario and it's interesting to see how Matheson created different groups of people. I can definitely pick up on the racial subtexts within the novel, the segregation and the struggles to live in separation from the Others, while the fear of being in jeopardy and forced to take on change is constantly lingering in their minds.
Perhaps the vampires in this novel are not simply acting on instinct, on their lust for blood. Perhaps they fear and despise Neville as much as he hated and loathes them. To the vampires, perhaps Neville is the monster.

Ruth points out while she is staying with him that what he does is horrific, yet he does not seem to accept that idea.

"That's why the woman I told you about broke down so rapidly,' he said, 'She'd been dead so long that as soon as air struck her system the germs caused spontaneous dissolution.'

Her throat moved and a shudder ran down through her.

'It's horrible.' She said.

He looked at her in surprise. Horrible? Wasn't that odd? He hadn't thought that for years. For him the word horror had become obsolete. A surfeiting of terror soon made terror a cliche. To Robert Neville the situation merely existed as a natural fact. It had no adjectives." (P.146)

Perhaps we should look at things from the 'Other' point of view. The vampires, the infected at least are not mindless creatures. We have the examples of Cortman and Ruth to prove that fact. Cortman is able to speak, he calls for Neville. At first I thought this was merely residual or lasting memories that the body might have retained before the change, but he has a sense of purpose and a mind and ideas of his own. And Ruth is even more complex. Her character shows emotion. She shows fear when she first meets Neville, she shows indecision and regret and she may even have the capability to love. These vampires are not just monsters.

"But now it's different. I know now that you were just as much forced into your situation as we were forced into ours." (P.154)