Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chapter 15: In Which More Soap Operatic Elements are Introduced

Previously in Varney the Vampire: Varney's appearance may have been worth the wait.

As Chapter 15 begins, we learn that the Bannerworths' servants have all quit due to the Vampire Problem, and the entire scandalous affair is at the center of all the gossip at a local inn, Nelson's Arms. This is all just a segue to the arrival of a new character, an old admiral, at the inn.

The trend I'm continuing to notice is that as long as the characters speak one sentence at a time, it's JMR's best tool for character building. He keeps the narration well away from the dialogue for the most part, letting it speak for itself. Mostly it's his narration that sucks, or whenever he lets his characters get too introspective, or talk for too long a period of time. But these short snappy bits of dialogue work to give us a picture of the admiral as a character, just like they worked to give us the picture of Varney we've seen so far.

Anyway, the admiral has arrived to meet a lawyer, Josiah Crinkles (who got beat up a lot in elementary school, I'm sure). It seems that Crinkles sent him a letter warning that the admiral's relative, Charles Holland, was about to marry a vampire. Now, this is a nice plot twist, but of course the letter is ruined with this little addition:
P.S. I enclose you Dr. Johnson's definition of a vampyre, which is as follows:
"VAMPYRE (a German blood-sucker) -- by which you perceive how many vampyres, from time immemorial, must have been well entertained at the expense of John Bull, at the court of St. James, where nothing hardly is to be met with but German blood-suckers."
IN CASE YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT A VAMPIRE IS... I mean, really. That bugged me a lot.

So, Crinkles arrives and denies sending the letter, everyone swears a bit more (censored carefully for the Victorian sensibilities), and the admiral decides to find Charles and ask him what's up. Despite the nice bit in the beginning, it just ends up being another chapter that's too long for the amount of plot that actually happens in it.

Chapter 16: In Which Charles and Flora Tempt Fate


  1. You continue to make cogent commentary about the actual meat of the writing. I thank you for that. The Admiral, honestly, I found rather tedious. One expected him to eat spinach and go "toot toot" on a pipe for some reason.

  2. Ha! What I've seen of him so far, he seems stereotypical but not terribly annoying.

  3. Has anyone else noticed the anachronisms in this chapter? We've been told that the story takes place in the late 17th century (something borne out by the illustrations), but in this chapter Rymer has characters talking about Admiral Nelson losing an arm and Johnson's Dictionary, bringing us into the early 19th century.

  4. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know enough about history to have noticed that. From what I've read about Varney, however, it seems that the setting gradually shifts from late 17th c. to vaguely 19th c. by the end, with no rhyme or reason other than "the author forgot."