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Vampires are fictional mythological creatures said to subsist by drinking the blood of their victims. The most known tale about vampires is Bram Stoker’s 1897 story, Dracula, which drew on earlier mythologies of werewolves and similar imaginary demons and “was to voice the anxieties of an age,” and the “fears of late Victorian patriarchy.” Literary historian Brian Frost speculates that the “belief in vampires and bloodsucking demons is as old as man himself,” and may go back to “prehistoric times,” and literary historian Susan Sellers places the current vampire myth in the “comparative safety of nightmare fantasy.”
Although typically described as undead, some minor traditions believed in vampires that were living people. In folkloric tales, vampires often visited loved ones and caused mischief or deaths in the neighbourhoods they inhabited when they were alive. They wore shrouds and were often described as bloated and of ruddy or dark countenance. This is markedly different from modern fictional portrayals of gaunt, pale vampires beginning in the early 19th century. Although vampiric entities have been recorded in many cultures, the term vampire was not popularised until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where vampire legends were frequent, such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe, although local variants were also known by different names, such as vampir in Serbia and Bulgaria, vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania. This increased level of vampire superstition in Europe led to mass hysteria and in some cases resulted in corpses actually being staked and people being accused of vampirism.
The charismatic and sophisticated vampire of modern fiction was born in 1819 with the publication of The Vampyre by John Polidori. The story was highly successful and arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century. However, it is Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula that is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and which provided the basis of modern vampire fiction. The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, video games, and television shows. The vampire is a dominant figure in the horror genre. [From Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License]
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Originally posted 2009-11-25 18:39:52.