From pathology to invisibility: age identity as a cultural construct in vampire fiction

Marta Miquel-Baldellou

Abstract

A diachronic analysis of the way the literary vampire has been characterised from the Victorian era up to the contemporary period underlines a clear evolution that seems particularly relevant from the perspective of ageing studies. One of the permanent features characterising the fictional vampire from its origins to its current manifestations in literature is precisely the vampire’s disaffection with the effects of ageing in spite of its old chronological age. Nonetheless, even though the vampire’s appearance does not age, the way it has been presented in literature has significantly evolved from a remarkable aged look during the Victorian period in John Polidori’s “The Vampyre: A Tale” (1819), Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872) or Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) to young adulthood in Anne Rice’s An Interview with the Vampire (1976) and Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark (2001), adolescence in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (2005-2008), and even childhood in John Ajvide Lindquist’s Let the Right One In (2004), thus underlining a significant process of rejuvenation through time despite the vampire’s apparent disaffection with the effects of ageing. This article shows how the representations of the vampire in literature reflect a shift from the embodiment of pathology to the invisibility, or the denial, of old age and how this, in turn, reflects cultural conceptualisations and perceptions of ageing.

Keywords

Discourses of ageing; Vampire fiction; Cultural construct; Pathology; Invisibility



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2014.27.08