The Vampire Chronicles

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For the Theatres des Vampires album, see The Vampire Chronicles (album). For the Darkstalkers video game, see Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower.
The Vampire Chronicles
Vampire Chronicles (Covers 1-4).png
Author Anne Rice
Language English
Genre Gothic, vampire fiction
Publisher Knopf
Published 1976-2014

The Vampire Chronicles is a series of novels by Anne Rice that revolves around the fictional character Lestat de Lioncourt, a French nobleman turned into a vampire in the 18th century.

Rice said in a 2008 interview that her vampires were a "metaphor for lost souls".[1] The homoerotic overtones of The Vampire Chronicles are also well-documented.[2][3][4][5] As of November 2008, The Vampire Chronicles had sold 80 million copies worldwide.[6]

Interview with the Vampire (1976) was made into a 1994 film starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater and Kirsten Dunst. 1988's The Queen of The Damned was adapted into a 2002 film of the same name, starring Stuart Townsend and Aaliyah and using some material from 1985's The Vampire Lestat. In August 2014, Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment acquired the motion picture rights to the entire series.[7]

Books in the series[edit]

The Vampire Chronicles[edit]

New Tales of the Vampires[edit]

Lives of the Mayfair Witches[edit]

The Vampire Chronicles and Rice's Lives of the Mayfair Witches series have a few crossover novels, making Witches part of the Vampires universe.

Future[edit]

Rice considered Blood Canticle a conclusion to the series and thought she would never write about Lestat again.[8] In a 2008 interview with Time, she called her vampires a "metaphor for lost souls", and noted that writing about them had been, to her, "a sort of search for God and a kind of grief for a lost faith." Her 1998 return to the Catholic Church after 38 years of atheism had prompted a change in the direction of her writing that resulted in her 2005 novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and its 2008 sequel Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana.[1]

However, in the same interview Rice said: "I have one more book that I would really like to write; and the book will have a definite Christian framework and it will concern the vampire Lestat; and it will be a story I think I need to tell. But it will have to be in a redemptive framework. It will have to be where Lestat is really wrestling with the existence of God in a very personal way."[1] That same year she produced a YouTube video in which she told her readers that she had dismissed any intentions of writing any more books in The Vampire Chronicles, calling the series "closed".[9] Later, during a 2012 Q&A in Toronto, Canada, an audience member asked Rice if she would bring any of her old characters back, to which she replied: "I'm not ruling it out. I think it's very possible. I mean, I feel completely open with a new confidence in myself about it. I want to hear what Lestat has to say." [10] On March 10, 2014, Rice announced a new installment of The Vampire Chronicles titled Prince Lestat, calling it the first of a new series.[8][11]

Plot summary[edit]

In Interview with the Vampire (1976), Louis de Pointe du Lac tells a young reporter the story of how he had been made a vampire in 18th century New Orleans by Lestat de Lioncourt. In creating and sheltering the child vampire Claudia, Lestat and Louis had unknowingly set tragedy in motion. 1985's The Vampire Lestat chronicles Lestat's own origins, as he resurfaces in the modern world. In The Queen of the Damned (1988), Lestat has awakened Akasha, the mad mother of all vampires, who has only destruction on her mind. 1992's The Tale of the Body Thief finds Lestat haunted by his past and tiring of immortality. A thief switches bodies with him and runs off, and Lestat enlists David Talbot, leader of the Talamasca and one of his only remaining friends, to help him retrieve it. In Memnoch the Devil (1995), Lestat meets the eponymous demon and is faced with a theological personal crisis.

Rice's New Tales of the Vampires — 1998's Pandora and 1999's Vittorio the Vampire — do not feature Lestat at all, instead telling the stories of the eponymous peripheral vampires, the Patrician Pandora from Rome in the 1st century B.C. and the 15th century Italian nobleman Vittorio.

Armand tells his own life story in 1998's The Vampire Armand, and Rice's Mayfair Witches series crosses over with The Vampire Chronicles in Merrick (2000) as Louis and David seek Merrick Mayfair's help in resurrecting Claudia's spirit. The origins of Marius de Romanus are explored in 2001's Blood and Gold, and Blackwood Farm (2002) tells the story of young Tarquin Blackwood as he enlists Lestat and Merrick to help him banish a spirit named Goblin. 2003's Blood Canticle intertwines the vampire, Blackwood and Mayfair storylines, and was intended by Rice to conclude the series.[8]

Prince Lestat (2014) rejoins the remaining vampires a decade later as Lestat faces pressure to lead them.[8][11]

Vampiric properties in the series[edit]

In the series, the vampiric condition is transferred into humans through blood exchange between a human and a vampire. A vampire bites and feeds on a human to the point of exsanguination, at which point the vampire offers its own blood for the human to drink. The human first experiences great pleasure and then a sharp burning pain in their bodies as they die, after which they rise as a newborn vampire. Vampires call this the "Dark Gift", and refer to the vampire bestowing it as the "maker" and the new vampire as a "fledgling". Rice explains the origin of vampirism in The Queen of the Damned, as the ancient Egyptian queen Akasha is murdered and possessed by a vengeful and bloodthirsty spirit named Amel.

Rice's vampires are immortal, possess superhuman strength, eyesight and agility, and require blood for sustenance. Sunlight will destroy a younger vampire, but as they age their resistance to the sun's effects grows to the point that eventually it will barely harm them at all. They are unaffected by crosses or garlic, and wooden stakes and bullets will only injure them temporarily, as they heal quickly and completely and are exempt from disease. Tremendous physical trauma, such as extended exposure to the sun, will take a longer time to heal. The physical aging process ends when a human becomes a vampire, but as they age their skin becomes smoother and whiter; the oldest vampires can resemble marble statues. Their eyes become luminous, their skin pale and reflective and their fingernails are like glass. If their hair or nails are cut, they will quickly grow back as they were at the time of their human death.

The distinctive characteristic of Rice's vampires is that they feel more vividly than they did as humans and can be excessively emotional, sensitive and sensual, being easy prey to intense suffering and aesthetic passions. The transformation from human to vampire heightens one's beauty, removes cosmetic imperfections, and refines their voice, allowing them to better lure in prey. Vampires crave and need to drink human blood, but as they age they may require less, and can even survive off animal blood if necessary. Additionally, the act of feeding is an intense and erotic experience for both vampire and victim. They typically sleep in coffins and crypts to avoid disturbance and the sun, and vampiric sleep also differs from "mortal sleep" in that they cannot be wakened until the sun sets, and the dawn triggers their sleep against their will if they are hidden from the sun. Lestat tells David in Memnoch The Devil that eidetic memory appears to be natural trait of the vampire, however memories of their human lives, particularly those relating to sensation, fade over the years.

Vampires have heightened senses to a superhuman level, can move faster than the human eye can detect, see in the darkest of nighttime, pick one sound out of even the noisiest area and raise the volume of their voice to painfully loud levels. They also possess the ability to read the thoughts of mortals and weaker vampires. A quirk of this power is that the thoughts of a vampire and the vampire who "made" him or her are closed to each other forever. Vampires become physically stronger and more mystically powerful as they age, or by drinking the blood of older vampires and those closer to the root of the vampiric mother. The most ancient vampires, those over a thousand years old, are known as the Children of the Millennia. With this extended age can come special "gifts" or powers:

  • Cloud Gift, or flight. Though powerful from his making by the ancient Magnus, Lestat only gains the power of flight after repeatedly drinking the blood of Akasha, progenitor of all vampires.
  • Mind Gift, or enhanced telepathy and telekinesis. With age comes not only a more powerful ability to communicate telepathically and read thoughts, especially of humans, but also the power to move objects with the mind. The telepathic gift is often used to identify prey, in particular by those vampires who choose to only feed upon amoral humans rather than innocents. Ancients like Akasha and Marius exhibit telekinetic powers in the series.
  • Spell Gift, the ability to cloud the minds of humans and bend them to the vampire's will. Marius employs this skill in The Queen of the Damned and Blood and Gold, and Armand is especially gifted in having the ability to bespell other vampires as well as humans, and uses it almost exclusively to draw those who "wish to die" to him.
  • Fire Gift, the power to set an object or being on fire with the mind. The destructive Akasha incinerates vampires in The Queen of the Damned and Blood and Gold, and Lestat exhibits the ability in Blood Canticle.
  • Killing Gift, the ability to end a life telekinetically, as exhibited in Blood and Gold.

Characters[edit]

The series primarily follows the antihero Lestat, and by extension the many humans and vampires whose lives he has touched in his own long existence. Rice also explores the origins of vampires far more ancient than the so-called "brat prince".

Themes and impact[edit]

In 2008 Rice called her vampires a "metaphor for lost souls", adding that "they were metaphors for us ... these were wonderful ways of writing about all our dilemmas in life ... for me, supernatural characters were the way to talk about life, they were a way to talk about reality actually."[1] She also noted that writing about them had been, to her, "a sort of search for God and a kind of grief for a lost faith."[1]

The homoerotic overtones of The Vampire Chronicles are also well-documented.[2][3][4][5] In 1996, Rice commented:

On the homoerotic content of my novels: I can only say what I have said many times — that no form of love between consenting individuals appears wrong to me. I see bisexuality as power. When I write I have no gender. It is difficult for me to see the characters in terms of gender. I have written individuals who can fall in love with men and women. All this feels extremely natural to me. Undoubtedly, there is a deep protest in me against the Roman Catholic attitude toward sexuality.[3]

She said later in 2008:

My characters have always been transcending gender ... I think the main issue with me is love, not gender. I have never understood the great prejudice against gay people in our society ... I don't know why I see the world that way, but I know that it's very much a point with me, that we should not be bound by prejudices where gender is concerned.[1]

In his book Anne Rice and Sexual Politics: The Early Novels, James R. Keller asserts that the publication and success of Rice's Vampire Chronicles reinforced the "widely recognized parallel between the queer and the vampire."[2] He notes that in particular,"gay and lesbian readers have been quick to identify with the representation of the vampire, suggesting its experiences parallel those of the sexual outsider."[2] Richard Dyer discusses the recurring homoerotic motifs of vampire fiction in his article "Children of the Night", primarily "the necessity of secrecy, the persistence of a forbidden passion, and the fear of discovery."[2][12]

Film adaptations[edit]

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles was released in November 1994 starring Tom Cruise as Lestat, Brad Pitt as Louis, Kirsten Dunst as Claudia and Antonio Banderas as Armand. A second film, Queen of the Damned, which combined plot elements of The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned, was released in 2002 starring Stuart Townsend as Lestat and Aaliyah as Akasha.

In August 2014, Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment acquired the motion picture rights to the entire Vampire Chronicles series, with producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci signed to helm the potential film franchise. The deal also includes a screenplay for The Tale of the Body Thief (1992) adapted by Christopher Rice.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Sayre, Carolyn (2008). "10 Questions for Anne Rice". Time. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Keller, James R. (2000). Anne Rice and Sexual Politics: The Early Novels. McFarland. pp. 12–14. ISBN 978-0786408467. 
  3. ^ a b c "Submit to Anne". Salon.com. September 16, 1996. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (November 11, 1994). "Film Review: Interview with the Vampire; Rapture and Terror, Bound by Blood". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b James, Caryn (November 13, 1994). "In Search of the Man Within the Monster". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ Husband, Stuart (November 2, 2008). "Anne Rice: interview with the vampire writer". The Telegraph. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b McNary, Dave (August 7, 2014). "Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles Takes Flight at Universal". Variety. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d Flood, Alison (March 11, 2014). "Anne Rice revives much-loved vampire for new novel Prince Lestat". The Guardian. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  9. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJfN05lY1TY
  10. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Wyq9Io_Foc
  11. ^ a b Kellogg, Carolyn (March 10, 2014). "Anne Rice brings back her vampire antihero with Prince Lestat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  12. ^ Dyer, Richard (1988). "Children of the Night: Vampirism as Homosexuality, Homosexuality as Vampirism". In Susannah Radstone. Sweet Dreams: Sexuality, Gender, and Popular Fiction. London: Lawrence & Wishart Ltd. p. 64.