Our Vampires, Ourselves

Paperback, 240 pages

English language

Published April 7, 1997 by University of Chicago Press.

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3 stars (1 review)

This “vigorous, witty look at the undead as cultural icons in 19th- and 20th-century England and America” examines the many meanings of the vampire myth (Kirkus Reviews). From Byron’s Lord Ruthven to Anne Rice’s Lestat to the black bisexual heroine of Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories, vampires have taken many forms, capturing and recapturing our imaginations for centuries. In Our Vampires, Ourselves, Nina Auerbach explores the rich history of this literary and cultural phenomenon to illuminate how every age embraces the vampire it needs—and gets the vampire it deserves. Working with a wide range of texts, as well as movies and television, Auerbach follows the evolution of the vampire from 19th century England to 20th century America. Using the mercurial figure as a lens for viewing the last two hundred years of Anglo-American cultural history, “this seductive work offers profound insights into many of the urgent concerns of our time” …

1 edition

An experience, of some sort

3 stars

I think I actually tried reading this a while back, but ran aground about 1/3 of the way through. This time went more smoothly, for some reason, but I'm left in a bit of a whirl as to what kind of experience that was. The book is structured chronologically, so the first 2/3 or so of the book covers vampires through Varney, Carmilla, and Dracula (really, really, quite a lot of Dracula), and does so pretty comprehensively. Things go a bit off the rails towards the end of the book, though, as Auerbach tries to draw links between US politics of the 70s and 80s and contemporaneous vampire fiction and films. She seems weirdly dismissive of The Gilda Stories and somewhat obsessed with Hammer films. This is exacerbated by a writing style that I can only really describe as 'stream of consciousness'. It feels like there's random thoughts just popping …