Friday, October 23, 2009
Varney the Vampire was published serially by James Malcolm Rymer (long-attributed to Thomas Preskett Prest instead) between 1845 and 1847. It lasts for over 200 chapters, "somewhat longer," Bleiler warns in The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural, "than War and Peace and Gone with the Wind combined." Its problems are those of most Victorian serial fiction (and, to be fair, most modern television series): it became very popular, and so the writer - who was paid by the word to begin with - stretched it to unbelievably epic proportions in order to make money, often discarding continuity in the process.
It is not a very good read, but it is an important one, for it contributed many aspects (primarily the idea of the sympathetic vampire) to modern vampire lore. The excitement increases and tedium decreases enormously if it is taken as it was published, one chapter at a time - and these chapters treated individually, again, like the modern television series. (I won't lie to you, though - it's still awful.)
And so I present - from a combination of my own curiosity and the need to sacrifice my own sanity so you don't have to - a detailed summary and commentary on James Malcolm Rymer's Varney the Vampire, one chapter at a time. This may take a few months to finish, but I'm reasonably sure that it will be worth it.
In the mean time, read more about Varney the Vampire and other early vampire fiction, or start reading Varney the Vampire yourself for free online!