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Origins of the Vampire

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The Public Domain Review published an article The Poet, the Physician and the Birth of the Modern Vampire ( https://publicdomainreview.org/2014/10/16/the-poet-the-physician-and-the-birth-of-the-modern-vampire/ ). The article delves into the conception of John William Polidori’s The Vampyre. Published in 1819, Vampyre is the first Vampire story written in English. The story stems from the famous “year without Summer” where Mary Shelly, Lord Byron, and a host of other writers congregated to Lake Geneva to talk and write. Polidori happened to be Byron’s physician at the time and was brought along. Byron had no respect for Polidori’s writing and regularly criticized it. It was this disrespect that caused Polidori to craft the monster in his story around Byron. After feeling like Byron was sucking the life out of him and his writing, he set out to write a tale of a Byron-esque character who literally sucks the life out of people.

Another origin story for the vampire is its rich presence in folklore. Once again rooted in reality, the earliest depictions of Dracula draw comparisons to Prince Vlad Tepes (http://www.livescience.com/24374-vampires-real-history.html ). Vlad, a vicious Romanian ruler is portrayed in The Story About Dracula as a cruel, albeit heroic, figure. While the story gave Dracula supernatural qualities, it was not all too different from the real-life Vlad. Other more sinister depictions of vampires were also present in folklore. Vampires are typically thought of as a Slavic-based concept but Asia also has some vampire stories of its own ( http://vampireunderworld.com/asian-vampires-types-of-vampires/ ). Yama, the ancient Hindu lord of death goes around drinking he blood of sleeping humans. In Tibet, Buddhists believed in five blood-drinking deities. While the deities did not terrorize people, they figuratively represented humans’ vampirical actions, a bit like how Byron was sucking the life out of Polidori. The Philippines and Thailand also have their own respective vampire myths. Some of these vampires are to be worshipped, others are to be feared an avoided.

Vampyre

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