The Vampire According to Anne Rice

Anne Rice. Interview with the Vampire. 1976. Gothic vampire thriller.

As the title makes pretty darn obvious, a 300-year-old vampire sits down to an interview with a “boy” in today’s New Orleans, producing an oral history to rival anything by Studs Terkel. This novel bathes us in baroque sensuality, wrestles with existential anguish, and flourishes its slowly mounting homoeroticism that climaxes in X-rated scenes of arching bodies of kouroi, moans, and erections as blood is sucked from pulsating white throats. Vampirism was never more explicitly a metaphor for sex (see Dracula and Twilight), as vampires and mortals hook up in bars, fall in love, and form profane semblances of human families (Louis, Lestat, and Claudia—Rice’s most haunting handiwork: the child-woman). Rice distills undiluted vampirism’s gross intimacy and blasphemous perversity and creates a sensual texture reinforced by her baroque prose style, with its overwrought sentences laden with modifiers.

However, Rice transcends mere casual erotica. Louis is racked with existential anguish, recognizing his own evil but unable to resist the urge to kill and love, tormented by not knowing. When he ventures into a church only to realize that he is the only supernatural thing in the building, he feels “loneliness to the point of madness.” Instead of a happy progress to reason, atheism draws us into a maze without a center. Recall Dostoevsky’s parable of the inquisitor? Absolute, glorious freedom is the most terrible gift from a God who damns with mercy.

This devil has our sympathy.

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