The Vampyre and Fragment of a Novel

One can definitely agree that Lord Byron’s “Fragment of a Novel” served as a model or at least perhaps inspired John Polidori’s “The Vampyre”, given the fact that Polidori himself agreed that it was Byron’s idea, just his own development (Levy). Polidori’s work was originally published in 1819 in the New Monthly Magazine with false authorship claiming a “Tale by Lord Byron” to sell more and gain attention (Levy).

In their 1816 meet up in Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, Byron along with Polidori (who was his traveling physician at the time), Percy and Mary Shelley resorted to marvelous conventions of the gothic and elevated elements in the romantics’ era during their exchange of ideas and thoughts. The year without a summer sparked a joined reflections that may have encouraged some of Polidori’s ideas for “The Vampyre” and ultimately others in the room such as Shelley’s Frankenstein”.

There are some similarities between the two novels (“Fragment of a Novel” & “The Vampyre”), for instance the homosociality between the narrator in “Fragment of a Novel” and Augustus Darvell (elder man) is moderately mirrored to Polidori’s Aubrey and Lord Ruthven (gentleman) in “The Vampyre”. The relationship between either characters are vague and unclear to whether there are more than simply refuge of friends. It is also fair to mention the homosocial relation between Victor Frankenstein and his creation, whether its a need for a friend or wanting sympathy or playing god, the double between the two is shown by their differences and similarities.

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Victor Frankenstein & his monster from the 1974 movie “Young Frankenstein”.

Playing with the idea of the dopplegänger or the double, The oath in both texts that the characters should keep an undisclosed secret about life/death matters, a metaphor that criticizes the absurdity of the “gentlemanly conduct of keeping a pact or secret, even if it was meant to hurt others” (Levy).

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The Doppelgänger or The Double as a way to view the narrator and Darvell or Aubrey and Lord Ruthven.

Both texts leave for a journey (the grand tour?) and visit the “ancient world”,  Byzantine, Rome and Greece, a playground in which authors can freely write about the sublime given some societies like the ancient Greeks were fantasized about and mused/called upon. (Greece may also allude to its homosexual culture and marital incest with the indefinite homosocial relations between Aubrey and Lord Ruthven) (Turkey, Byzantine travels is very representative of Byron given his personal travels to the mediterranean and of course his tale in verse “The Corsair”.)

Other elements of the gothic are conveyed in different ways, for example travelogues (ancient world), super human or extraordinary creatures (Vampirism/ Shelley’s “Frankenstein”?), elements of the supernatural (Witches/spirits/ghosts), displacement of time and space (Ruthven appearing in London/travel time) and the representation of gloomy settings/places no one is supposed to be around (burial grounds/graveyards).

Although unfinished, “Fragment of a Novel” was published in Byron’s 1819“Mazeppa” collection by John Murray without Byron’s permission. Polidori’s original publication of the story was also put under Lord Byron’s authorship to gain market popularity but eventually did not turn out very well, struggling against the fight of the texts authorship with Byron himself. Further so the fight for some of Polidori’s authorship and Murray publishing Byron’s work without his consent may have demotivated Byon into competing and progressing in the sub-gothic genre, Vampirism.

Byron, engaging with what was popular at the time, works on his supernatural closet drama “Manfred” in 1816 and perhaps may also be a de facto of why he decided to simply leave the “Vampire” world and turn into something more individual, or “Byronic” seem to say. Manfred’s melancholic qualities and general declinations put the Byronic hero in a different scope, possibly a far related similar understanding in which how or why Darvell feels weakened.

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“Manfred & the Witch of the Alps” by John Martin – 1837

Instead of looking towards the vampire-gothic world, Byron decides to write his own type of unknown and explore his Byronic hero’s consciousness just as with “Manfred” and Childe Harold III. Nonetheless Polidori’s development to the sub-genre gives a heads up to what we know now as Dracul.

Works cited

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature : The Romantic Period.New York: Norton, 2012. Print. Pp.613-616.

Levy, Michelle. “Gothic, Vampire, Darkness..” English 376 Seminars. Simon FraserUniversity. Vancouver. 14 Sept. 2016. Seminar.

Frankenstein : http://www.horrorsociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/e55531c0-2c15-0134-0af4-0629623c6db9.jpg

Image sources

 Featured : http://www.public.asu.edu/~cajsa/thevampyre1816/images/le_vampire_John_William_Polidori.jpg

Manfred : http://www.artmagick.com/images/content/martin/hi/martin5.jpg

The double : https://40.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m3mdl4YZpj1rv8w9ro1_500.jpg

Frankenstein : http://www.horrorsociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/e55531c0-2c15-0134-0af4-0629623c6db9.jpg

Works cited

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature : The Romantic Period.             New    York: Norton, 2012. Print. Pp.613-616.

Levy, Michelle. “Gothic, Vampire, Darkness..” English 376 Seminars. Simon Fraser University. Vancouver. 14 Sept. 2016. Seminar.

– By Moe Marjani

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