Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu- Meet the Hostess for Irish Short Story Week

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1872, 104 pages)

Introducing Carmilla
Irish Short Story Week-3/14 to 3/20
"See you next week, I hope"-Carmilla

Carmilla, born in a novella of the same name by the premier 19th century writer of tales of the supernatural, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu,  will be co-host  for Irish Short Story Week.    Carmilla is a Gothic vampire story set in the dark forests of central Europe.    As I read it the plot seemed very familiar.   It was as if I had seen it in movies.   Then I realized that Joseph Le Fanu (1814 to 1873-Dublin) created the plot line of  "travelers in the darkest forests of central Europe break down in front of an old castle trouble ensues".    Carmilla is traveling in the coach  with her uncle, a mysterious deeply learned older man.   As soon as Carmilla, 18, meets a girl living in the castle, Laura, also 18, they at once are shocked to realize that 6 years ago they both had dreams about each other even though they had never met.   Each knows the other is "the girl from the dream". (Maybe this is over analyzing, but I think age of 12 was picked as it the approximate age many girls begin to menstruate.)

Long story short, Carmilla is really a very old countess who likes to suck the blood of young women in the night while clearly sexually fixating on them.   The story is told in a really atmospheric way.     The language is beautiful and in no way does it feel stale or like a dry old book.

Carmilla lives on in movies, 100s of knock off books and can even be seen in the plot line of 21th century movies and TV shows.    She  has decided she wants to co-host Irish Short Story Week.   She begrudgingly accepts that most of the guests (though not all!) will be male.    Her job will be to make sure everyone feels welcome and is comfortably accommodated.  Of course who is to say she does not her own private agenda.    She is looking forward to  meeting Elizabeth Bowen and hopes to be invited to Bowen's thirty bedroom manors house in Ireland.   Maybe Bowen's American friends,  Eudora Welty or Carson McCullers will stop by.   Maybe even Virginia Woolf will stop over along with Henry Green or Katherine Mansfield.

To participate is very simple.   Just do a post on any Irish Author and send me a comment so I can link back in a master post at the end.  As of now I am intentionally not planning to post on Oscar Wilde so others can do so without overlap, just to give one example out of many.   Almost everything I will post on can be read online so others can read along if they wish.

Mel u   


ds said...

Fascinating. I promise Carmilla that I will behave. Was she part of the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, since he was Irish, too?

Mel u said...

ds-Yes she is considered part of the inspiration for Dracula-Bram Stoker will be included on "Irish Gothic Day"!

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

I had never heard of Carmilla or Sheridan LeFanu before you posted about them. Your posts about Carmilla piqued my interest, and I downloaded an e-book from Project Gutenberg. I loved it, and was surprised by the lesbian undertones in a novel published in the Victorian era. Thanks for introducing me to Carmilla. :)