Vampires, Wine and Roses

Rating: 
3
Vampires, Wine and Roses
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 28-Jan-1997

A version of the following review will appear in The Vampire's Crypt 15 (Spring 1997).

Vampires, Wine and Roses, ed. John Richard Stephens. Berkley, 1997. ISBN 0-425-15741-5; $14.00/$20.00; trade paper, 384 + xv pp.

In this very eclectic anthology of vampire prose and poetry, the editor's aim was inclusion of "overlooked tales," both independent narratives and excerpts from works by famous authors. A significant number of these works, however, are in fact not difficult to find: Anne Rice's "The Master of Rampling Gate"; "The Horla" by du Maupassant; "The Homecoming" by Ray Bradbury; "Ligeia" by Poe; and "Dracula's Guest" are anthology staples. And some of the remaining items, while not without literary merit, are only arguably vampiric. Robert Louis Stevenson's "Olalla" is an account of a literally bloodthirsty maniac; in "The Vampirine Fair," Thomas Hardy tells the story (in verse) of a metaphorical (though no less dangerous) vampire spouse. "The Vampire" and "The Vampires Won't Vampire for me," poems by Rudyard Kipling and F. Scott Fitzgerald, portray Theda Bara-style "vamps," not undead bloodsuckers.

But Vampires, Wine & Roses contains bona fide vampire stories as well. Titles worthy of being salvaged from obscurity include the vampiric portion of Conrad Aiken's The Divine Pilgrim (a verse adaptation of Gautier's La Morte Amoreuse ), "Bewitched" by Edith Wharton (although I think her "Miss Mary Pask" would have been a better choice), and Ivan Turgenev's somewhat hallucinatory tale, "Phantoms" (which may or may not be about a vampire; that ambiguity is part of the story's allure). Lenny Bruce's untitled live performance probably loses something in its translation to paper, but H. G. Wells's story of a bloodthirsty plant, "The Flowering of the Strange Orchid," has aged remarkably well.

The biggest disappointment for me was "The Vampire of the Carpathian Mountains" by Alexandre Dumas *pere* -- not for any flaws in the story itself, but because the editor elected to reprint a translation by Alan Hull Walton, originally a chapter in Horror at Fontenay (St. Martin's, 1975). Walton in fact *adapted* Dumas's work rather than translating; in his Preface he admits that "I have added a few details from time to time -- a word or so, a sentence, even a paragraph"; "I have also allowed people to cough, to smile...." He has in fact added material that has no business being there, such as the vampire's lack of a reflection or a shadow -- details absent from Dumas's original. Ironically, Vampires, Wine & Roses reprints this embarrassment among such company as "The Riddle of the Crypt" by Rod Serling, "Count Dracula" by Woody Allen, and lyrics to Sting's "Moon over Bourbon Street." Berkley (or Stephens) was willing to buy reprint rights to these big-name titles but, incongruously, didn't invest in a translator's accurate rendition of Dumas's prose. In Fontenay, Walton at least hinted at the extent to which he had altered his material. The introduction to the story here says only that Walton "translated and adapted" Dumas's work, not indicating how, and how much, this latter-day revisionist's version differs from the story that the author intended.

(A more accurate translation of this story, entitled "The Pale Lady," appears in The Vampire Omnibus, ed. Peter Haining, published by Orion in the U.K. and by Chartwell in the U.S.)

Having ranted and railed about that one item out of thirty-five, however, let me give the rest of the book its due. Many items are indeed hard to find and vampire-relevant even when not out-and-out vampiric. Because most of its stories and poems are older material (pre-1960s and sometimes pre-1900s), Vampires, Wine & Roses won't appeal to fans of sex or splatter. Rather, it sits in a comfortable niche between literary and popular, patient with the age of its creatures (be their stories old or recent), pleasantly redolent of vampires past.

CONTENTS:

William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet (excerpt)
Anne Rice The Master of Rampling Gate
Anne Rice The Ballad of the Sad Rat
Sting Moon over Bourbon Street
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle John Barrington Cowles
Robert Southey Thalaba the Destroyer (excerpt)
Edgar Allan Poe Ligeia
Rudyard Kipling The Vampire
Lord Byron A Fragment of a Turkish Tale
Lord Byron The Giaour (excerpt)
H. G. Wells The Flowering of the Strange Orchid
Ray Bradbury The Homecoming
Sir Walter Scott Rokeby (excerpt)
Ivan Turgenev Phantoms
Robert Louis Stevenson Olalla
Baudelaire The Vampire
Jules Verne The Carpathian Castle (excerpt)
Voltaire Vampires
John Keats Lamia
Woody Allen Count Dracula
F. Scott Fitzgerald The Vampires Won't Vampire for Me
Guy du Maupassant The Horla
Alexandre Dumas The Vampire of the Carpathian Mountains
Baudelaire The Metamorphoses of a Vampire
Conrad Aiken The Divine Pilgrim (excerpt)
Sir Thomas Malory The Death of King Arthur (excerpt)
Thomas Hardy The Vampirine Fair
Rod Serling The Riddle of the Crypt
Goethe The Bride of Corinth
Lenny Bruce [untitled]
T. S. Eliot The Wasteland (excerpt)
Edith Wharton Bewitched
H. P. Lovecraft The Hound
Bram Stoker Dracula's Guest

Fanged Films

USA, 1989
Dracula: The Love Story / Bram Stoker's Dracula: The Love Story To Die For
USA, 1971

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

Drawn to Vamps?

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The Vampire Armand
Vol. 6 No. 4
The Vampires