Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu- Meet the Hostess for Irish Short Story Month
Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1872, 104 pages)
Irish Short Story Month
March 1 to April 1
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 blood sucking the guests is forbidden, unless requested
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. I am quite sure we will have Russian and Subcotinent visitors.