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Gothic Texts


Gothic refers to a Romantic literary style which can include supernatural aspects, particularly vampires. This is because many of these stories are set in locales with Gothic architecture. This page includes significant non-fiction and fiction books about vampires and related subjects.

Why cover this subject at sacred-texts? From Lord Byrons’ literary circle to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, vampires and their kin have evolved into a modern mythology about the presence of evil in a world governed by science. Gothic literature is an outlet for the ancient fears of humanity in an age of reason. These texts allow us to trace the evolution of this mythology.

Gothic literature shouldn’t be confused with texts in the Gothic language, the earliest written Germanic language, which includes the Codex Argentius, a translation of parts of the New Testament. For more information, we recommend Database of the Gothic Language [External Site].

 The Vampire, his Kith and Kin, by Montague Summers. [1928]
Summers, a devout and very literal Catholic, was apparently convinced of the reality of the undead. This work is a serious, often pedantic, academic review of the literature. However, it is required reading for any prospective vampire experts. (An Internet rumor has it that Buffy Summers got her last name from this author; we welcome any comments on whether there is any truth to this.) This etext was scanned at sacred-texts.

 The Book of Were-Wolves, by Sabine Baring-Gould. [1865]
All killer, some filler. One of the best known studies of lycanthropy, written by the author of the hymn ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’ The first ten chapters are a pretty good review of the shape-shifting literature, and then it takes a strange left turn into the topic of psychopathy. This etext was scanned at sacred-texts.

 Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley [1831]
It’s alive! Originaly published in 1818, this modern reworking of the Golem story is a cautionary tale about science. Frankenstein just keeps getting more relevant as we stumble forward into the 21st Century of clones, stem cells and genomics. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, along with her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, was a member of Lord Byron’s circle; her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, wrote one of the key feminist documents, Vindication of the Rights Of Woman (also at this site).

 The Vampyre, by John Polidori [1819]
This short proto-gothic novel caused a sensation at the time, and spawned a vampire craze. Numerous books and plays based on or imitating its story line. Originally spuriously attributed to Lord Byron, this was actually written by Dr. John William Polidori, a physician friend of Lord Byron. The main character of Ruthven is reputedly based on Byron. For more information, refer to Chapter V of The Vampire, his Kith and Kin.

 Dracula by Bram Stoker [1897]
Dracula, not Ruthven, is the template for the modern vampire craze. This novel, in the form of fictional journals and letters, was not the first or even the best 19th Century vampire tale, but is today the best known, due to the endless number of movies based on it. Today we know that Dracula had a medieval counterpart, Vlad the Impaler, who lived in Wallachia (which is to the south of Transylvania), today part of Romania. Although not an actual vampire, Vlad was said to have spilled quite a bit of blood in his day.

 Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker [1911]. An erotic thriller of demonic possession, this time by a giant invertebrate. Lair was made into a dreadful movie by Ken Russell, which has become something of a cult classic. Note that there are racist terms and characterizations in in this book, so be forewarned.

 Vikram and The Vampire, translated by Sir Richard R. Burton. [1870]
The Vampire Scheherazade. This collection of Hindu fables, which has an Arabian Nights-style backstory with a legendary Indian monarch playing Scheherazade to an undead being, doesn’t have much to do with vampires, but this seemed the best place to put it. Burton, as it happens, also translated the Arabian Nights. Links to other Burton material at sacred-texts (most not suitable for children) can be found in the Kama Sutra section.

Psychic Vampires

 The Vampire Codex by Michelle Belanger.
There ARE Vampires among us. Ms. Belanger has graciously donated this text which describes her beliefs on this topic.

 The Vampire Ritual Book by Michelle Belanger. [2003]