Countess Karnstein: (Carmilla) by Sheridan Le Fanu
A classic Victorian vampire novella, which influenced Bram Stoker’s later story”Dracula”
Carmilla is the story of a female vampire; it was, the first vampire story to have a female vampire as its protagonist. Irish writer Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s published the novella in 1872, twenty-five years before Bram Stoker created the iconic Dracula. Le Fanu was popular a writer of supernatural and mystery fiction. He became popular in the twentieth century, but most of his works are still widely available, even though no longer widely read.
Laura, the main character and one of the vampire’s victims, begins by recounting a strange incident from her childhood, in which she awakens to find a young woman kneeling next to her bed. She falls back to sleep, only to be awakened by the sense of being bitten.
Laura and her father take in a young stranger Carmila who had an accident just outside her house and looks identical to female in her shildhood dreams. Laura thinks this is destiny so she takes in Carmilla. She quickly is seduced by Carmilla’s presence and their friendship deepens.
When a shipment of restored heirloom paintings arrives, Laura finds a portrait of her ancestor, Mircalla, Countess Karnstein, dated 1698. The portrait resembles Carmilla exactly and Carmilla confesses she might be a descendant from the Karnsteins even though the family died out centuries before.
Nightmares plague Laura at night. In one dream a large cat-like beast bites her on the chest, it then takes the form of a female figure and disappears through the door without opening it. In another dream Carmilla is standing at the foot of her bed, covered in blood.
The Flavor text of this item “You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one for ever.” comes from chapter 4
“Sometimes after an hour of apathy, my strange and beautiful companion would take my hand and hold it with a fond pressure, renewed again and again; blushing softly, gazing in my face with languid and burning eyes, and breathing so fast that her dress rose and fell with the tumultuous respiration. It was like the ardour of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet overpowering; and with gloating eyes she drew me to her, and her hot lips travelled along my cheek in kisses; and she would whisper, almost in sobs, “You are mine, you shall be mine, and you and I are one for ever”. (Carmilla, Chapter 4).
I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say it had a fatal ending.
Carmilla, the title character, is the original prototype for a legion of female and lesbian vampires.
The main dynamic between Carmilla and the narrator of the story which at the time was very controversial and this is what led to a severe metaphysical consequence for them in the story.
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