Guest Author - Justin Daniel Davis
Traditionally, vampires have been seen as an externalization of repressed human sexuality. In the last century, this stereotypical analysis was challenged on many fronts; the bloodsucking, power-driven, sexually uninhibited beast was replaced by a new, even scarier breed: the sensitive vampire.
One of the best known of this type of vampire can be seen in the multifaceted characters of Anne Rice’s epic vampire series, beginning with Interview with a Vampire. Many of the vampires in Rice’s yarns are tragic and flawed as they struggle in their relationships with humanity even as it reflects what they have lost in self-realization. For example, Louis, the interviewed vampire in the first novel, is at once charming and realistic. Most disarming are the sensitive human qualities that arise from Louis, as he vividly recounts the days of his life in New Orleans before the turning. He has no agenda but to share his story to the human world, already at odds with the demented vampire in stories of old. He recounts his love-hate relationship with his vampire maker, the antagonistic Lestat, who Louis recalls as cruel and demeaning. It is clear that Louis is driven by a personal, immortal quest to find meaning in his undead life, even in the moment in which he thinks his humanity is forfeit in his succumbing to human blood.
In later novels, of course, we find that Lestat is not as terrible and cruel as he seems to Louis (at least, according to Lestat as he offers a chance to redeem himself in later books), but that Lestat has darker secrets about his past that he wanted to keep shut within, away from his fledgling vampire, who he claims to love above almost everything else.
Anne Rice’s vampires are not invincible to love nor loss; while the powers are there to be had, the price is terrible, as Louis could attest throughout his story of grief and self-discovery. Through Rice, the vampire takes on the role of humanity attempting to rise above what it often is by its own nature: ruthless, cold, and destructive.