Literature Meme- 5/10 Prose
Carmilla, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
I saw the very face which had visited me in my childhood at night, which remained so fixed in my memory, and on which I had for so many years so often ruminated with horror, when no one suspected of what I was thinking.
It was pretty, even beautiful; and when I first beheld it, wore the same melancholy expression.
A sweet young girl with a history of nightmares shares a castle with a less sweet (and perhaps less young) girl who has a history of causing them. Kisses are exchanged, terms of endearment are given, and blood drains away and puts the sweet girl on the brink of death, though her companion callously scorns such things. A monster must be killed and an innocent soul saved, but there are some things that can never be put right, no matter how much time passes.
Scholars have and will argue forever about how much of the homoerotic subtext was intentional. Let them. Call it what you will, but Carmilla wrapping her arms about Laura, planting kisses on her mouth and telling her that she loves her and would only ever want to marry her is good enough for me. More haunting questions remain, though- does Laura love her in return, or is she simply an innocent who is too polite to object to her friend’s caresses? And is what Carmilla feels really love, or is she a selfish predator who cares for nothing but destroying those she desires?
I don’t know, and to an extent it doesn’t matter. Carmilla is so beautifully written it breaks me into pieces, and leaves its words echoing in my head every time I read it. Perhaps if a few more filmmakers looked this way, they could find that “tortured romantic” vampire story they keep trying to turn Dracula into. But if not, I’ll always have it, and I’m all the richer for it.