The Irish Gothic – Uncle Silas, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dracula

irish gothic Well it’s Saint Patrick’s day on Tuesday, and what better way to celebrate Irishness than to review some classic Gothic Literature from the Emerald Isle. I won’t go into too much detail as all three of these novels are absolute classics, and I expect anyone who is following this blog to have read them all.

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Dell – 1978

dorian
Dorian looking a bit scaldy.

This novel is great. It’s been a long time since I read it though. Either way, I won’t hear a word said against our Oscar. It’s a pity he didn’t write more novels. 7.5/10

Uncle Silas – Sheridan Le Fanu
Oxford – 1981
silas
Howiye Maud?

This is one of my favourite books of all time. It’s standard Gothic fare really; a young girl loses her parent and she has to go live in creepy uncle’s house. The chapter in which Maud, the protagonist, encounters her repulsive governess for the first time had me shitting in my britches. The way that creepy bitch comes down the hill is absolutely CHILLING.

My edition of the novel is nicely annotated, and there is one note that I found particularly amusing. “414 a clumsy old press: in Ireland and Scotland, press = cupboard” Visiting my in-laws would be so much easier if I could get that printed on a t-shirt.

Anyways, this book is magnificent. If you like Jane Eyre or The Mysteries of Udolpho, then this is the book for you. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, then sorry, but we can’t be friends.

Dracula – Bram Stoker
Penguin – 1994
dracula
Nice ‘tache Drac. (Sweet diddys too!)

Well, this is obviously one of the greatest novels ever written. This was also one of the first books that I read after graduating from university. I had just spent four years reading books that had been selected by other people, and to have the freedom to choose a book according to my own tastes was tremendous. I remember actually looking forward to going to bed at night, just so I could get stuck into this absolute masterpiece.

I’ve always had an interest in ghosts and monsters: I grew up watching Ghostbusters and reading Goosebumps, and I’ve always preferred horror films to any other genre. I was expecting to enjoy this book, but I was not expecting to be frightened. Well, I was; there are parts of this book that are damned scary. There’s nothing in here that I hadn’t seen in a hundred movies; but reading Dracula, I realized that all of those movies had used this book as a template to produce their scares. I was spooked good and proper when the lads start to go missing on the boat as the count is lurking in the shadows. Pure deadly.

There’s also some weird sexiness to this novel. That’s not just something that Hollywood added to make the film versions more successful. There’s a lot of heaving breasts in here. Mina and Lucy sound like absolute babes. The count is a kinky one too, check this out:
With his left hand he held both Mrs. Harker’s hands, keeping them away with her arms at full tension; his right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white nightdress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man’s bare breast which was shown by his torn-open dress. The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink.
Dracula! She’s a married woman, ye dirty bowsy!!! And you’d think he’d be satisfied with those lovely vampire wenches he keeps in his castle. I’ll tell ye now, if I was a single man I’d have no bleedin’ bother lettin’ them have a little suck, wha?

Anyways, I’ll give this a perfect 10/10. If you haven’t read this book, you have no reason to be wasting your time reading this blog.

There are other fantastic works of Gothic fiction to have emerged from Ireland. Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer might seem like a glaring omission from this post, but I have a plan to review that later on in conjunction with another book. I’m also planning to review more of Le Fanu’s works in the near future.

I think it’s rather interesting to note that all three of the authors reviewed in this post were Dublin protestants. (Maturin, who was incidentally Oscar Wilde’s great-uncle, was also a Church of Ireland clergyman.) These three books were also written within 50 years of each other. You’d wonder what the Church of Ireland were putting in their non-transubstantial eucharist to get their congregation to be such creeps. I’ve read that Dracula represents Stoker’s alienation from the largely Catholic Ireland, but I reckon it was just dodgy proddy communion wafers.

These books are all savage. Fuck going to the parade this St. Patrick’s day; read one of these smashers instead.

The Satanic Bible and The Vampire Bible

The Vampire Bible – ???
Temple of the Vampire – 1989

The Satanic Bible – Anton Lavey
Avon – 1969

I’ve just finished reading The Vampire Bible from the Temple of the Vampire. I’m going to talk a little about that and a little about the Satanic Bible. I want to get LaVey out of the way early on.

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(The fonts and imagery are one of the sweetest things about this book.)

 

I am glad that I bought my copy of the Vampire Bible in a parking lot, off some dude from craigslist. I sure would feel like a dummy if I had given the person who wrote this tripe any of my money.

To join the Temple of the Vampire, you have to buy a copy of this book from them. I would hope that they also give you extra material to make sense of it, or maybe call you up to explain the crazy nonsense that’s included. The book doesn’t even include a definition of what they mean by ‘vampire’. The vampires described are non-violent vampires who don’t murder or drink blood. These vampires just float about in the astral realm, giving thanks to the undead gods and sucking life-force from their prey. It’s not very clear as to what effect this floating has on the vampire’s prey though, and the book specifically says that it doesn’t harm them. That sounds like a pathetic vampire to me.

The content is an awkward mix of instruction and fantasy. The book states that its contents are based in fantasy, yet it prohibits any kind of violence. If this is all fantasy, why shouldn’t I swally down the blood of my enemies? At least the Satanic Bible has some balls and tells you to ‘SMASH’ people that you don’t like. My favourite part of the entire book was the second item on the the list of things that suggest that you are in the presence of the Undead:
“2. Tingling sensations in the fingertips”
Perhaps the author has gotten mixed up. These vampires sound a lot like fairies to me.

2(I haven’t read my copy of the Satanic Rituals yet and probably won’t ever get around to it. It has a nice pink cover though.)

 

The Vampire Bible is dumb. Like the Satanic Bible, it makes no effort to emulate the actual Bible in any way. Unlike the Satanic Bible, it’s not even remotely clever. I actually enjoyed reading the LaVey’s Bible. It’s camp and silly, but there is some actual reasoning behind it. You get the feeling that he actually believed in some of what he was writing. There’s not an ounce of reasoning behind anything written by Vlad, or whoever the fuck shat out the Vampire Bible. The ideas in the Satanic Bible are obviously not completely original, but I think that LaVey did a decent job of synthesizing them into an entertaining whole.

Coincidentally, perhaps my least favourite part of the Satanic Bible (apart from the silly Enochian bits) was the section on Psychic Vampires. It seemed like it was a metaphor for something that had happened in LaVey’s own private life that was too embarrassing to clarify but too upsetting for him to leave out completely. It’s funny looking back at that section now and reading the lines: Psychic vampires are individuals who drain others of their vital energy… They fill no useful purpose in our lives. Perhaps he was in contact with some of the members from the Temple of the Vampire! Well, actually… probably not; the Satanic Bible was written 20 years before the Temple was founded.

Anyways, to conclude, I’m giving the Vampire Bible a generous 3/10. It looks and sounds pretty cool as long as you don’t take the time to actually read it. It’s not nearly as spooky as it could have been. The Satanic Bible gets a 7/10 for being good hellish fun. Even if you don’t like the writing, this book is worth owning just for the sweet portrait of LaVey on the back.

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What a charmer!