The Vampires that Started It All

Vampire_cover

The Defendant: Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice

The Case:

Nowadays, one cannot go to a bookstore (or Amazon or the Kindle store or wherever you happen to buy books now) without seeing a book written in the perspective of a vampire or another supernatural creature, especially in the young adult sections. But in 1976, Interview with the Vampire, when it was released, was the first of its kind. It was one of the first books written from the vampire’s point of view rather than the victim’s, which was far more commonplace. This perspective forces the reader to see the “monster” as an individual rather than the “Other”.

Like all great books that break the mold, Interview with the Vampire had some controversy and Anne Rice became a part of the ALA’s Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Authors of the 20th Century. Commonly challenged for pornographic themes (especially in her Sleeping Beauty series – which ranks 52nd on ALA’s Most Frequently Banned Books of 1990-1999). Regardless of the controversy, Interview with the Vampire and the rest of the Vampire Chronicles have sold 80 million copies worldwide (http://www.goodreads.com/series/43564-the-vampire-chronicles). The books have gathered a large cult following over the years and several movies were produced (Interview with A Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles in 1994 and Queen of the Damned in 2002).

Commonly, books on the Banned or Challenged list have many accusations against them. Since Interview with the Vampire was written well before the ALA had a Banned Book website (or the internet for that matter), specific accusations are difficult to find, so I will talk about typical challenges that might be made against the book. According to the ALA, the top five reasons (other than the catchall category) for challenging a book are Offensive Language, Violence, Sexually Explicit, Occult/Satanism, Unsuitable for Age Group and Homosexuality (http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/statistics). Personally, I think that Interview with the Vampire might have been banned due to how outside the box the novel was from what was normal.

For Interview with the Vampire, Offensive Language isn’t really an issue as long as “Damnation” and other similar like words don’t bother you. With almost any vampire book, Violence is commonplace. I never found the violence in the novel to be extraordinary in comparison to today’s action films or other R-rated movies. Violence is almost necessary when the main characters are vampires and they need blood to survive. It was never gratuitous or explicit, rather more implied. In regards to the challenge of being Unsuitable for Age Group, I find that this novel sits well with any adult as it was written for ADULTS. I will note that I did read this as teenager and still never felt like I shouldn’t have been reading it.

I think of all the challenges that Interview with the Vampire might have faced, Sexually Explicit, Occult/Satanism, and Homosexuality would have been most common. While I normally wouldn’t lump Homosexuality and Sexually Explicit into one category, I believe I can refute them both with the same evidence. Not once in the entire novel is there sex. Yes, there is some discussion of breasts and other female body parts but nothing in regards to sexual contact or intercourse itself. The most the novel talks about in regards to breasts is Lestat feeding from a woman from the breast or Louis describing the difference between Claudia and some other female mentioned (more her lack of curves). Anne Rice often uses the word love and being together, especially with the major characters. Louis loves Claudia, Louis loves Armand, Lestat wants things to be as of old, etc. If there are relationships between the male characters of a sexual nature, they are implied but not explicit. When I first read Interview with the Vampire, I never once thought ‘Oh, Louis and Lestat are an item’ or ‘Armand wants to bone Louis’. The impression that I have always gotten from the characters and the novels is the desire for companionship rather than a sexual partner. It is more a feeling of a very good friendship, almost a familial relationship. In regards to the challenge of Occult/Satanism, Anne Rice wrote such beautiful characters and in Interview with the Vampire, Louis, the narrator, often discusses his Catholic beliefs and often how his morals dictate his life. While there are characters that disavow belief in the Devil, God, Heaven and Hell, there are people in everyday life who do the exactly same thing. I don’t see this as an inclusion of the Occult or of Satanic themes.

The Verdict:

Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire is a wonderfully written novel that expanded the genre’s ability to have a new perspective from what was classically thought to be the ‘bad guy’. As it was written for adults, I see no reason to restrict access to the novel. As a parent, obviously judge for yourself if your child is ready for such materials. Obviously, it is up to you to decide.

As a long time reader of Anne Rice and the Vampire Chronicles, I would love to meet Lestat in a dark alley…but that might be my teenaged self talking. I definitely went to New Orleans and stalked the same streets that Louis and later Lestat spoke about (my original fandom!).

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About victorialepore

As a lifelong bibliophiliac, I have a great desire to delve myself into the wide world of SciFi/Fantasy. Known for almost always having a book on hand, or devouring books at warp speed. When my face is not smashed in a book , I am a Master's candidate for Counseling Psychology and a Substance Abuse Counselor.

3 responses to “The Vampires that Started It All”

  1. Farmer Farthing says :

    I love this post. Lestat is a very misunderstood character. I even named one of my cats after him (and Pandora). Yours an avid Anne Rice fan 🙂 x

  2. victorialepore says :

    It was very hard to not review all of the Vampire Chronicles. Louis’ view of Lestat is very different and in my own opinion, a little biased. I saw a lot of growth in Lestat in the following books and found that I didn’t like Louis very much. I thought he was kind of whiney.

    Anyways, thanks for reading!

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  1. Another Year of Banned Books | Bound and Gagged - August 25, 2014

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