"My central idea: that vampirism springs not only from paranoia, xenophobia, or immortal longings, but from generosity and shared enthusiasm. This strange taste cannot be separated from the expansive impulses that make us human." Our Vampires, Ourselves
is not your ordinary work of literary criticism, but rather an entertaining, thought-provoking tour of the history of vampires in Western civilization. The vampires and works discussed include Lord Ruthven, Varney, Carmilla, Dracula, Fritz Leiber's "The Girl," famous film Draculas, Fred Saberhagen's Dracula, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain, Anne Rice's Louis and Lestat, Stephen King's Barlow, films such as The Lost Boys
and Near Dark,
and countless books. As the New York Times
writes, "Ms. Auerbach presents her arguments with wit and clarity ... Ms. Auerbach implicitly rejects the Freudian and Jungian interpretations of these figures as either psychosexual metaphors or archetypes, preferring to see them in sociopolitical terms. But such interpretations need not be mutually exclusive. There is, after all, more in vampire metaphors than meets any one mind's eye."
Nina Auerbach shows how every age embraces the vampire it needs, and gets the vampire it deserves. Working with a wide range of texts, as well as movies and television, Auerbach locates vampires at the heart of our national experience and uses them as a lens for viewing the last two hundred years of Anglo-American cultural history.
"[Auerbach] has seen more Hammer movies than I (or the monsters) have had steaming hot diners, encountered more bloodsuckers than you could shake a stick at, even a pair of crossed sticks, such as might deter a very sophisticated ogre, a hick from the Moldavian boonies....Auerbach has dissected and deconstructed them with the tender ruthlessness of a hungry chef, with cogency and wit."—Eric Korn, Times Literary Supplement
"This seductive work offers profound insights into many of the urgent concerns of our time and forces us to confront the serious meanings that we invest, and seek, in even the shadiest manifestations of the eroticism of death."—Wendy Doniger, The Nation
"A vigorous, witty look at the undead as cultural icons."—Kirkus Review
"In case anyone should think this book is merely a boring lit-crit exposition...Auerbach sets matters straight in her very first paragraph. 'What vampires are in any given generation,' she writes, 'is a part of what I am and what my times have become. This book is a history of Anglo-American culture through its mutating vampires.'...Her book really takes off."—Maureen Duffy, New York Times Book Review