The Vampire as Numinous Experience

Spiritual Journeys with the Undead in British and American Literature


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About the Book

The critical work examines the vampire as a spiritual figure—whether literal or metaphorical—analyzing how the use of the vampire in literature has served to convey both a human sense of alienation from the divine and a desire to overcome that alienation. While expressing isolation, the vampire also represents the transcendent agent through which individuals and societies must confront questions about innate good or evil, and belief in the divine and the afterlife. Textual experiences of the numinous in the form of the vampire propel the subject on a spiritual journey involving both psychological and religious qualities. Through this journey, the reader and the main character may begin to understand the value of their existence and the divine. A variety of works, poetry and fiction by British and American authors, is discussed, with particular concentration on Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, as representative of the Romantic, Victorian, and late twentieth century periods of literature. A conclusion looks at the future of the literary vampire.

About the Author(s)

Beth E. McDonald is an instructor with the English department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She lives in Las Vegas.

Bibliographic Details

Beth E. McDonald
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1947-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8126-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Preface      1

1. Dreadful Revelations: The Numinous and the Vampire      11
2. Surrendering the Self: The Numinous and the Vampire in Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”      39
3. Recreating the World: The Sacred and the Profane in Bram Stoker’s Dracula      86
4. Eros and the Thanatotic Hero: Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles      129

Conclusion: Vampires for a New Age      169
Chapter Notes      183
Works Cited      187
Index      195

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “fascinating…of great interest…fresh approach”—SFRA Review
  • “vampires have long held an influential spot in American popular culture…this is an important work”—Popular Culture Review
  • “takes a look at literal and metaphorical representations of vampires…includes discussion of a variety of English and American literary works”—The Year’s Work in English Studies