Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Who is Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Le Fanu was an influential figure in the Victorian horror genre so much so that he may have influenced Bram Stocker's Dracula.  As a result, I wanted to find out a little more about him and, maybe, shed some light as to why his writings were so influential.

First a little background on Le Fanu.  He was a college educated lawyer, but never practiced law.  Le Fanu instead pursued a career in journalism after college, remaining in this career until his death in 1878.  He also served as the editor of the Dublin University Magazine; the primary place where his short stories were published.  Many of these short stories became the basis of his later, novel works.
"In the year 1858 Le Fanu's wife Susanna died and he became a recluse, setting to work in his most            productive and successful years as a writer. With two candles for light while nocturnally writing, he was to become a major figure of 19thC supernaturalism. His work turned Gothic's focus on external sources of horror to the inward psychological potential to strike fear in the hearts of men"

After the death of his wife, Le Fanu focused on the horror genre, but more importantly, internal horrors that are shared by everyone.  This is, in part, why he is referred to as the father of Victorian horror.  Le Fanu was able to pray on the fears of almost everyone by focusing on psychological horror; something that subsequent horror writers would continue.  Furthermore, I think it's important to note that much of his writing took place at night.  From our discussion of Polidori's vampyre prototype, night is often characterized as nonhuman.  This  is also the origin of Le Fanu's nickname, the invisible prince.  Because he mainly wrote at night, Le Fanu was rarely seen during the day.  (

One more thing that was interesting from my research was that many of his stories seem to focus on a haunting past.  This stems from past actions, or non-actions, that haunt the main characters throughout the rest of the book.  I am curious to see if these past transgressions lead to redemption for Laura at the end of this novel.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Forbidden Love...An Afterthought

I wanted to follow up on my original post for this weeks readings.  My first post centered around the attitudes and feelings of Catherine during the first half of Wuthering Heights.  She is a stagnant character in this part of the book when compared to the later chapters.  Young Catherine and Edgar's love is much different than Catherine and Heathcliff.  Catherine and Heathcliff's love is rooted not in a deep connection, but a childhood dream.  As a result, there is not much room to grow out of this dream and evolve into a relationship.  On the other hand, Catherine and Edgar's love seems to manifest itself as an acceptance of Catherine's role in this era; wife.  Furthermore, Catherine and Edgar are more different, personality and social status speaking, than her and Heathcliff.  Edgar's character represents the antithesis of Heathcliff.  He has wealth, status, and a more grown-up persona.  As a result, this gives Catherine room to grow into unfamiliar territory that this relationship represents; something that was not possible with Heathcliff because they were so similar in many ways.

I think it is essentail to also note the concept of status in the story of Catherine and Edgar.  She chooses to marry him in order to be "the greatest women in the neighborhood."  This struck me as an odd reason tto marry someone until i began to examine Catherine's growth with Edgar when compared to Heathcliff.  For those of you who choose too, maybe you can debate whether it was possible for Catherine to achieve this status with Heathcliff as well?  I do not.  For many of the reasons above, most importantly the lack of growth Catherine showed with Heathcliff, this would not have been possible.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Forbidden Love?

Much of the first 16 chapters of Wuthering Heights centers around a description of the love between Catherine and Heathcliff.  Nelly, the principle narrator of the novel, seems to condemn them for the passion between them. Their love is sometimes portrayed as immoral and brutal according to Nelly.  Their love seems to mirror another theme in the story; moors.  After looking up the definition to this word that appears so often in the story, I came to this conclusion.  Moors are basically tangled grassland, usually very hilly.  They are much like a marsh or swamp area.  Many times they are characterized as dark, wet, gloomy, tangled areas that do not sustain much life.  This comes to characterize Heathcliff and Catherine's love.  It is complicated, tangled, and stagnant.  I think that this is why Nelly condemns their relationship for much of the first 16 chapters.  She, like the reader, realizes that it will never work although they do share an obvious love for each other.  

It was also interesting that moors come into play when the author discusses Catherine's grave.  Catherine is buried "in a corner of the kirkyard, where the wall is so low that heath and bilberry plants have climbed over it from the moor."  She, in death, like in life is characterized by the tangled, dark and gloomy moor.  This is apparent by the placement of her grave and somewhat scorned love with Heathcliff.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lord Byron, the Prototype for a vampire

Lord Byron, as many of you know, was John Polidori's inspiration for The Vampyre.  Polidori adapted a short story written by Byron in 1816 into his vampire novel.  As a result, Byron himself became the prototype for the traditional vampire character.  There are a couple of aspects to Byron's real life that are integral to the early vampire character.  The first of these aspects is the charismatic, aristocrat.  Byron himself was of noble descent.  He possessed many friends and was an influencer of people; an author.  This prototype is also followed in the early, popular vampire tale of Lord Dracula, and is mimicked by the character Lord Ruthven.  In addition to this, Byron was described by his ex-wife as someone with great charm, but possessing a dark side.  This again fits into the vampire character created by Polidori.

High society in this story is not any different than high society of today in my opinion.  These people posses enough money, power, and influence to do and go where ever they please.  Lord Ruthven is no different.  He and his travelling partner Aubrey journeys take them to Rome, Greece, and England.  I believe that the vampire character is a response to this culture in that it is a flaw in an otherwise flawless figure; the noble.  Polidori, probably like many of his other non-noble constituents, must have believed that people with this sort of power and wealth must have some skeletons in the closet (no pun intended).  Furthermore, this theory seems to fit into the idea of paranoid Gothic, whose central theme is an oath between two men.  This oath could be between aristocrats to keep these secretive, vampire transgressions between them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Giving Up the Ghost

Eve Sedgwick paranoid Gothic is described as homosexual anxiety which infuses power through a fear of being discovered.  This is a central theme in Polidori's The Vampyre.  Polidori's novel revolves around the travels and interactions between two men.  Furthermore, they share an oath; an aspect that is apparent in Sedgwick's paranoid Gothic.  "This oath - to preserve Ruthven's honor by concealing his predatory life and apparent death - has absolute binding power..."  This oath has power because it is a concealing factor for not only Ruthven's life and death, but his homosexual transgressions as well.  It is a shared promise between two men to keep their bond secretive.  It is also interesting to note that these factors of paranoid Gothic are mimicked in Palidori's real life.  He, like Ruthven, has a male travelling partner with a shared oath to uphold their, although rocky, friendship.

I also found the notion of the moon interesting.  This was not a crucial aspect to Palidori's vampyre.  He even goes as far as to disregard the commonality that vampires cannot be exposed to the sun.  This evolution to the vampire character can be attributed to Planche.  Night is often thought of as a nonhuman realm.  It is fitting that a not fully human entity, a vampire, would fit best in a nonhuman realm.

Monday, September 6, 2010

About Me

Three interesting facts about myself
  1) I am a secondary education major with a focus in mathematics
  2) I love sports; playing and watching.  I play baseball for the Supreme Builders of the Milwaukee Baseball League and on a semi-pro team called Langsdorf.
  3)  I work for the School District of Brown Deer as a maintenance person.

I signed up for this course as a means to expand my literature experience.  I am not very familiar with vampire novels, but have always found their concepts interesting.  Most of the novels I read are in the sports autobiography genre (Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton and My Story: Pete Rose are my favorites).  As a result, when I open a book I hope to read about real people and their experiences.  Reading vampire novels will be something totally new for me in the world or literature.  I have had mostly great experiences with online communities.  I have take a few online course during my time at UWM and have enjoyed them.  I feel like it gives people the ability to contribute to class more actively than lectures and I look forward to discussing these novels with you all.

I am not too familiar with vampires but this is a scene from the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  The main character of the comedy creates a Dracula Roc-opera throughout the film.  Pretty funny if you've never seen it.

US Virgin Islands

CBS Sports

I watch a lot of sports so when I'm away from the tv I like to keep track of what is going on with cbssports.

Fighting Gravity - America's Got Talent 2010