Interview with the Vampire

Anne Rice

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 1976
ISBN 10: 0394498216 / ISBN 13: 9780394498218
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Synopsis: In celebration of the 40th anniversary of its publication

The time is now.

We are in a small room with the vampire, face to face, as he speaks--as he pours out the hypnotic, shocking, moving, and erotically charged confessions of his first two hundred years as one of the living dead. . .

He speaks quietly, plainly, even gently . . . carrying us back to the night when he departed human existence as heir--young, romantic, cultivated--to a great Louisiana plantation, and was inducted by the radiant and sinister Lestat into the other, the "endless," life . . . learning first to sustain himself on the blood of cocks and rats caught in the raffish streets of New Orleans, then on the blood of human beings . . . to the years when, moving away from his final human ties under the tutelage of the hated yet necessary Lestat, he gradually embraces the habits, hungers, feelings of vampirism: the detachment, the hardened will, the "superior" sensual pleasures.

He carries us back to the crucial moment in a dark New Orleans street when he finds the exquisite lost young child Claudia, wanting not to hurt but to comfort her, struggling against the last residue of human feeling within him . . .

We see how Claudia in turn is made a vampire--all her passion and intelligence trapped forever in the body of a small child--and how they arrive at their passionate and dangerous alliance, their French Quarter life of opulence: delicate Grecian statues, Chinese vases, crystal chandeliers, a butler, a maid, a stone nymph in the hidden garden court . . . night curving into night with their vampire senses heightened to the beauty of the world, thirsting for the beauty of death--a constant stream of vulnerable strangers awaiting them below . . .

We see them joined against the envious, dangerous Lestat, embarking on a perilous search across Europe for others like themselves, desperate to discover the world they belong to, the ways of survival, to know what they are and why, where they came from, what their future can be . . .

We follow them across Austria and Transylvania, encountering their kind in forms beyond their wildest imagining . . . to Paris, where footsteps behind them, in exact rhythm with their own, steer them to the doors of the Théâtre des Vampires--the beautiful, lewd, and febrile mime theatre whose posters of penny-dreadful vampires at once mask and reveal the horror within . . . to their meeting with the eerily magnetic Armand, who brings them, at last, into intimacy with a whole brilliant and decadent society of vampires, an intimacy that becomes sudden terror when they are compelled to confront what they have feared and fled . . .

In its unceasing flow of spellbinding storytelling, of danger and flight, of loyalty and treachery, Interview with the Vampire bears witness of a literary imagination of the first order.

Review: In the now-classic novel Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice refreshed the archetypal vampire myth for a late-20th-century audience. The story is ostensibly a simple one: having suffered a tremendous personal loss, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis Pointe du Lac descends into an alcoholic stupor. At his emotional nadir, he is confronted by Lestat, a charismatic and powerful vampire who chooses Louis to be his fledgling. The two prey on innocents, give their "dark gift" to a young girl, and seek out others of their kind (notably the ancient vampire Armand) in Paris. But a summary of this story bypasses the central attractions of the novel. First and foremost, the method Rice chose to tell her tale--with Louis' first-person confession to a skeptical boy--transformed the vampire from a hideous predator into a highly sympathetic, seductive, and all-too-human figure. Second, by entering the experience of an immortal character, one raised with a deep Catholic faith, Rice was able to explore profound philosophical concerns--the nature of evil, the reality of death, and the limits of human perception--in ways not possible from the perspective of a more finite narrator.

While Rice has continued to investigate history, faith, and philosophy in subsequent Vampire novels (including The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch the Devil, and The Vampire Armand), Interview remains a treasured masterpiece. It is that rare work that blends a childlike fascination for the supernatural with a profound vision of the human condition. --Patrick O'Kelley

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Title: Interview with the Vampire
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: 1976
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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