Sunday, February 22, 2009

Interview with the Vampire

I have adored this book since I was in middle school. It was the first vampire novel I read and I read it all within a day. My young teenage frame of mind still didn't know a lot about the world and those who lived in it. I had barely experienced life and still to this day I have barely any experience worth mentioning. But I certainly have more experience then I did ten years ago.

The outline of the story is an interview with a vampire, Louis, who tells his life tale. He describes his human life, the briefness of it compared to his actual age, and the heartbreak he experienced then when his younger brother died. Then he moves into his immortal life and tells of love found and loss and ultimately his 'loss' of emotion which so many other vampires both prized and feared.

It's a heavy book and I have found over the past ten years that each time I read the book I come to understand it a bit more. We'll stick to my thoughts of the book this time around so as not to get confused.

There are three very large subjects in the book that reach out to me.
  1. Religion
  2. Emotions
  3. Sense of loss
I was brought up as a Roman Catholic and understand the compulsive thoughts that cross a devoted Catholic's mind when coming to obstacles that may be 'sinful'. I've seen Catholic's much more religious than myself who are driven by it. Their entire lives are without impulse but their idea of what God might want of them. The fear of ultimately being 'evil' and going to hell can be very strong. When I was a child, it horrified me. I would cut off my arm if I knew it would prevent me from being evil or going to hell. As I got older and grew distant with religion that fear died but I understand it.

Louis seems so transfixed on the idea of religion and whether or not being a vampire has made him evil or a child of Satan.
The entire conversation of religion between Louis and Armand towards the end of the book is fascinating and well thought out. But this is Anne Rice we're talking about, everything she writes is thought out with very little room for wonder because she's a stickler for detail.

The emotion Louis feels is displayed as a rarity for vampires. Most seem to exist without much feeling of worry, stress, love, or sadness. But Louis feels all of this and to the utter extreme. He reminds me a lot of the character May in The Secret Lives of Bees which I read prior to this. She too had an enormous amount of emotion that ultimately caused her demise. Louis feels for everything and even inanimate objects seem to make emotions arise.

A few years ago my boyfriend at the time had pointed out that I was a very emotional creature. I felt every emotion, even for things that didn't deserve to have my emotion. It was a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you can understand people better in the long run. You can see how they work a little more. See where their mind is going. And you can easily shell out different ideas for advice. But it becomes a curse when you're the one left hurt and upset by things out of your control.

Louis life seems to be surrounded by events that are clearly out of his control and yet he blames himself or feels the sadness towards the events. It makes him out to be a very whiney depressing person.

The sense of loss which appears on and off through the entire novel ties into the emotion. Louis, having such a clear tie to emotion, feels for each loss he experiences. Deaths in his family, deaths of servants, death of himself, death of his victims, the mortal death of Claudia, the immortal death of Claudia, the repetitive 'deaths' of Lestat. It isn't until Claudia is killed that his emotion seems to snap and he simply feels numb. That portion of the book reminds me of notes taken in a classroom. Points of each action taken in his life. I went here, then I went there, then I lived there. No emotion left him dull and dry. I can almost relate to this. I know that when I experience death I go through a period where I feel numb. Nothing excites me, their all just pinpoints of events written down for each day of my life. But I eventually grow back into feeling and abandon the numbness I had been plagued with. I become alive again.

Louis doesn't seem to return to life. Armand hopes that events will stir Louis back to life but they don't seem to happen. With that, Louis becomes an even more depressing character and I understand why there is only one book of his. The story is out but now he has no emotion so who really wants to hear what else he thinks when all thoughts are bland? It's better to see his actions through the eyes of other characters.

Anne Rice is a beautiful writer. She has a firm grip on the English language and I've always admired her ability to do so much research on past lands and times so that when they are included in her stories they seem to be factual. This is why she's the Queen of Vampires. I only wish that she would return to writing about vampires. I adored her books all through middle school and high school. They would always bring me solace from my own sensitive emotions. I turn to the Vampire Chronicles again for that same solace they once provided. These economic times are hitting me and my family very hard. I need all the comfort that I can get.

Next Up:
Unsure... either Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, or The Vampire Lestat

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