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Added Sat, 17/04/2021
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Carmilla is a Gothic short story by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. The work was first published in The Dark Blue magazine in 1872, 25 years before Bram Stoker's Dracula.

The story had a huge impact on the genre in particular and on the culture in general (films, music, books, comics, etc.). The main character was the prototype for countless female vampires, especially for the stable film stamp of lesbian vampires. Being a shorter and much less well-known work, " Carmilla "had a very strong influence on the main creation of this genre – "Dracula" by Bram Stoker.


Bram Stoker

Book (fiction)|1897

Bram Stoker's novel is a well-known classic of the vampire genre, and his Count Dracula is a truly immortal being who has survived many film adaptations and has become the embodiment of all the most insidious and mysterious that human imagination is capable of. You will hear five voices telling about their nightmarish encounters with Dracula. The girl Lucy, who received a fatal bite and gradually becomes a vampire, her lover, restless with despair, a courageous doctor who recognizes ominous symptoms… Excerpts from their diaries and letters step by step will bring you closer to solving the sinister mystery.

Critic Matthew Gibson names the following sources used by the author when writing the text of "Carmilla":

  • "Treat on Vampires and Revenants" by Augustine Calmet, translated into English in 1850 under the title " The Phantom World";
  • "The Book of Were-wolves "(1865) by Sabine Berin-Gulda
  • his own work on Elizabeth Bathory;
  • "Christabel" by Samuel Coleridge;
  • "A Winter in Lower Styria "(1836) by Basil Hall-Hall's work is the source of most of the description of Styria and, in particular, of both characters, Carmilla and Laura, the prototype of which is the figure of Jane Cranstoun, Countess of Purgstahl.

The novel has been adapted many times for the cinema. The first film adaptation can be considered the work of the Danish director Karl Theodor Dreyer, who freely adapted "Carmilla" for his 1932 film "The Vampire" (the film credits say that the picture is based on the collection of works by Le Fanu "In a cloudy Glass", which includes five stories, including "Carmilla"). The main character of the film, Alain Gray, was copied by Dreyer from Dr. Hesselius.



Traveler Allan Gray arrives in the village of Courtempierre and takes lodgings in a small inn. Gray has a great interest in the supernatural, particularly vampires. He's barely settled in when he feels a sinister force descending upon him. In the night an old man enters his room to tell him 'she must not die'. One of the old man's daughters, Leone, has been bitten by a vampire.
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The Gothic novella "Carmilla" (English "Carmilla", 1872) by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu had a huge impact on the genre in particular and on culture in general (films, music, books, comics, etc.). The main character was the prototype for countless female vampires, especially for the steady film stamp of vampires- lesbians.

The Gothic novella "Carmilla" (English "Carmilla", 1872) by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu had a very strong influence on the main creation of this genre – "Dracula" by Bram Stoker, released 25 years later.

Le Fanu presented the story as one of the cases in the practice of Dr. Hesselius, five of which were described in the collection of short stories "In a cloudy Glass". The story is told on behalf of Laura, one of the two main characters in the story.

Laura begins the story from her childhood, with a "picturesque and secluded" castle in the midst of endless forests in Styria, where she lives with her father, a rich English widower who retired after serving in Austria. When she was six years old, she had a vision of a beautiful stranger. She claims that she was bitten, but no wounds were found on her body.

Twelve years have passed. Laura's father receives a letter from his friend General Spielsdorf. The general wanted to come to visit and bring his niece with him, but she suddenly died under mysterious circumstances. Laura is saddened by the loss of the one who could have been her friend, she lacks communication. A sudden breakdown of the carriage near the house where Laura lives, leads to the appearance in the house of a young girl, the same age as Laura. Her name is Carmilla. Laura recognizes her new friend as the one she met in her childhood dream.

Carmilla is injured as a result of the breakdown of the crew. Her mother notifies Laura's father that her journey is very urgent and she cannot be delayed. She asks to leave her daughter in the castle for three months, after which she will return and take her away.

Carmilla and Laura become close friends, but Carmilla's mood is subject to sudden changes. Sometimes she makes disturbing attempts to romantically woo Laura. Carmilla refuses to reveal anything about herself or her past, despite Laura's questions. Her reticence isn't her only strange trait. Carmilla sleeps most of the day, and at night she seems to walk in her sleep. When a batch of old family portraits arrives at the castle, Laura discovers that one of her ancestors, "Mircalla, Countess of Karnstein", whose portrait is dated 1698, looks exactly like Carmilla, including a birthmark on her neck.

During Carmilla's stay at the castle, Laura has nightmares in which a devilish cat-like monster enters her room at night and bites her in the chest. The monster then assumes the form of a woman and disappears through the door. Laura's health deteriorates, and her father calls a doctor for an examination. The doctor has a private conversation with her father and asks that Laura never be left alone.

Then my father and Laura arrange a trip to the ruined settlement of Karnstein. On the way there, they unexpectedly meet General Spielsdorf, who tells them his terrible story.

Spielsdorf and his niece met a young woman named Millarca and her mysterious mother at a costume ball. Her mother insisted that she was an old friend of the General's, and asked that Millarca be allowed to stay with his niece for three weeks while she was engaged on a secret matter of great importance. Soon the general's niece fell ill with a mysterious malaise, and the symptoms of her illness exactly corresponded to those of Laura. After consulting with the church doctor, the general realized that his niece had been visited by a vampire. Taking his saber, he hid in the closet and waited until he saw a sinister cat-like creature that crept up to his niece's bedroom and bit her on the neck. Seeing this, the general jumped out of hiding and attacked the monster, which took the form of Millarki. She escaped unharmed, passing through a closed door. The general's niece died almost immediately afterwards.

Upon arriving in Karnstein, the general asked the local forest ranger where they could find the grave of Mircalla Karnstein. The ranger replied that the grave had been moved from here many years ago by a man who had rid their land of vampires.

While the General and Laura are alone in the ruined chapel, Carmilla appears. Enraged at the sight of her, the general rushes at Carmilla with an axe. She runs away. The general explains to Laura that Carmilla is the same Millarca, both of whose names are an anagram of the name of the vampire Countess Mircalla Karnstein.

The events are joined by Baron Vordenburg, a descendant of the hero who freed the region from vampires many years ago. Wordenburg is a major expert on vampires, and he discovered that his ancestor had an affair with Countess Karnstein before she died and became one of the immortals. In the papers of his ancestor, he discovers an indication of the place where Carmilla's grave is hidden. A special Imperial commission exhumes the grave and destroys the body of the vampire, acting under the power of attorney of the ruling Habsburg monarchy, within the territory of which Styria is located.

Phenomena in artwork: A vampire

The vampire looks like an ordinary young girl (only the sorcerer notices that her fangs are slightly larger than usual). She walks during the day, although she wakes up in the afternoon (some part of the night and until noon she disappears from a closed room, and then just as suddenly appears) and feels some bodily fatigue all day. Her cheeks sometimes turn red, and there is also a pulse. She hates to listen to funeral chants, explaining that they sound false, because everyone is mortal, and death brings a better life to a person. She is able to disappear without a trace at will and does so in case of danger.

Carmilla chooses only women as victims, although only some of them arouse emotional passion in her.

The story points out that the existence of a vampire is associated with the observance of certain conditions, in particular, the Countess of Mircalla, apparently, was obliged to take a name, anagrammatically composed of the letters of her real name, without additions and omissions: for example, "Carmilla" or "Millarca". One of the signs of a vampire is an unusually strong hand, which is manifested not only in the death grip, but also in its consequences: when the vampire opens his fingers, the victim's limb becomes numb for a long time, and this effect passes very slowly or remains forever.

The vampire is able to bring the victim into a state of confusion and subjugate her. This is how the victim describes his state at the moment of exposure to a mystical being:

I tried to free myself from this ridiculous embrace, but my strength seemed to fail me. Her whisper rang in my ears like a lullaby, and I lost my will and fell into a state of oblivion, from which I only emerged when she opened her arms. I didn't like this strange infatuation. I felt a strange, somehow even pleasant excitement, mixed with fear and a certain amount of disgust. During these scenes, I was unable to think clearly, but I experienced a kind of infatuation that turned into adoration and, on the other hand, hatred.

The vampire's attack is described as follows:

Then, to my surprise, I noticed that a young lady, very attractive, was standing by the bed, looking at me without a smile, but not angrily. She was on her knees, her hands covered by the blanket. I liked her, and I stopped whining. Her hands caressed me; she lay down on the bed, smiled, and embraced me. I felt very good, calmed down, and immediately fell asleep. I woke up with a sharp pain: it seemed to me that two sharp needles were stuck in my chest. I screamed out loud. The unknown lady jumped back, her eyes still on me, and slid to the floor. I thought she was hiding under the bed.

In this case, the attacks occur according to one scenario: a completely healthy victim in a half-dream sees a strange creature that looks like a woman, and then gradually, over a few weeks, loses strength and dies:

The poor girl thought she was being attacked by a ghost. That was two weeks ago; since then the poor thing has been wasting away, and died yesterday.

The main character herself describes the creature that attacked her as a huge ghost cat that attacked her in a dream, which turned into a silhouette of a woman when the girl woke up:

There was a vague shadow moving at the foot of my bed. At first I couldn't see her, but then my eyes caught sight of a beast, black as soot, like a monstrous cat. She had stretched herself out on the hearthrug and covered it almost entirely, so she must have been at least four or five feet deep. Full of wild grace, she moved restlessly around the room like a wild animal in a cage. I went cold with horror, but the scream stuck in my throat. The cat moved faster, and the room became completely dark. Now I could see nothing but her burning eyes. They were wide open, moving toward me, close to my face... and suddenly a sharp pain shot through my chest, as if two needles had been driven deep into my skin an inch apart. I screamed and woke up.

The candle was still burning in the room. Its light revealed a female figure standing at the foot of the bed. She was wearing a loose dark dress, and her thick hair hung in a cloud around her shoulders. She stood as still as a stone statue. She didn't even seem to be breathing. Under my gaze, the woman shifted slightly. The door swung open, and the stranger disappeared.

The fact that the girl had been assaulted was indicated by a painful spot located a couple of inches below the collar. The victim described the sensation at the bite site as "like a stream of cold water flowing around the chest."

In the story, the sorcerer sells the main character an amulet from a vampire ("The amulets consisted of strips of thin parchment, covered with mysterious numbers and icons."), but he does not scare the vampire away, and she even buys one for herself.

You can kill a vampire if you cut off his head, drive an aspen stake into his heart, and burn the remains at the stake:

.. Once, on a full moon, just after sunset, I climbed the bell tower and looked at the cemetery from a height. Here it is, visible from the window. Suddenly he sees: a vampire rises from the grave, spreads a shroud and flies to the village to drink the blood of peaceful villagers.

The brave man descended from the bell tower, grabbed the vampire's linen shroud, and carried it to the top of the tower. The vampire returned from hunting, did not find a shroud, and began to look around; then he noticed our Moravian on the bell tower, and how he screamed! The same man waved to him: get up, they say, and get your clothes. The vampire climbed the bell tower. As soon as he reached the battlements, the nobleman swung his saber, split his skull in two and threw him to the flagstones, then descended the spiral staircase and cut off the monster's head. The next day, the villagers, as usual, stuck an aspen stake in the vampire's heart and burned it at the stake.

More detailed description of the destruction of the vampire:

The body, as it is known from ancient times, was removed from the coffin. A stout aspen stake was driven into the vampire's heart; the monster let out a high-pitched scream, like the death cry of a living person. The executioner swung his axe — and blood spurted from the severed neck. The body and severed head were placed on a high pile of wood, burned to the ground, and the ashes were poured into the river. From that day on, the vampires no longer disturbed the inhabitants of this area.

If you exclude at least one of the items in this sequence, the vampire will recover and start attacking again.

Servants of the vampire family are described as follows:

— And what disgusting servants she has!"  Madame Perrodon said.

"That's right —" my father said, coming into the living room. "A hangman's party." I hope they don't rob the poor lady in the woods. Notorious scammers, but they know their business: they quickly put the crew in order.

"I suppose they're just tired after their long journey," Madame remarked. "It's not enough to say that they look vile; their faces are thin and dark, and they look sullen. I don't like it; I hope to-morrow the young lady will be well enough to explain everything.


Mademoiselle described a ghastly-looking black giantess who stared out of the carriage window, grinning and nodding her head, which was surmounted by a mottled turban. The black woman glared at him with the whites of her huge eyes and bared her teeth as if in a rage.

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