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    Rice’s vampires have more stories to tell…(01 Feb 2016)
    By IGAPostgradReps

    by Laura Davidel 
    PhD Candidate at Université de Lorraine

    “How many vampires do you think have the stamina for immortality? […] When, in fact, all things change except the vampire himself”     Armand in Interview with the Vampire

    Throughout her Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice suggested that vampires must adapt to the world and the era they live in, if they wish to survive. They must find not only blood, but beauty and love to sustain them; reconcile the memories of past places and people with the modern age so that they can endure.

    In 2009, Anne Rice announced the end of the Vampire Chronicles series: “I have no more stories to tell with the Vampires or the Mayfair Witches, and cannot write about these characters anymore.”(Rice, “The Vampire Chronicles”) But after a slumber period of 11 years (probably to allow the Twilight hysteria to calm down), Rice’s vampires are back and have lots of stories to tell. This would surely explain the great number of characters in Prince Lestat and the feeling of reconnecting with old friends that the book gives.

    This article will discuss the return of the vampires in the context of the 21st century’s technology era. It will concentrate on the haunting reappearance of Amel, the Core of vampirism; Lestat’s return and his stepping up to be the Prince of the vampires and finally, Fareed and Benji, the two vampires who seem most attuned with technology.

    The book opens with two parallel broadcasts: Benji’s radio station and his cries for the elder vampires to step up and lead the tribe of vampires “”Lestat, Where are you?” […] “How can this Mekare be the Queen of the Damned if she does not rule?”“ Then, there is the supernatural Voice of Amel that makes itself known telepathically not only to Lestat, but to other vampires too.

    Amel’s awakening seems to be caused by the disabled body of Mekare which confines to inactivity, as he confesses “I am entombed in one who feels nothing and desires nothing, and never drinks, never drinks of the life-giving human blood!”(Rice, Prince Lestat). In massacring the young vampires because “they weaken him”(Rice, Prince Lestat), Amel resembles a central computer that has countless wires spread in all directions and each new wire takes up more of its energy. Rice managed to blend the idea of the ancient entity with that of a new-age central machine that is overworked. Also, the advancements in medical technology assert that Mekare’s brain is atrophied, presumably because of the lack of blood. This explains Amel’s attempt to reach out and take possession of elder vampires in order to destroy the younger ones throughout the world.

    Although Lestat is not the only narrator, he remains a central character, still being spoken of mainly due to his publishing the vampire stories. In his meetings with David and Jesse, Lestat seems unchanged, Rice managed to preserve his irony and his reluctance to acknowledge the effect that his stories had on the younger vampires. Yet, he distances himself from the immortals’ crisis and the great meeting that is required. Andrew Schopp argues in Cruising the Alternatives: Homoeroticism and the Contemporary Vampire, that the space inhabited by the vampire is “a space that exists both inside and outside of our world”(Schopp) I would go even further and add that Lestat lingers both inside and outside of the vampire world: he has long intervals of solitude followed by reunions with the other vampires.

    Lestat also inhabits the implied real world. In the chapters of Rose’s story, the woman for whom Lestat becomes uncle Lestan, Rice makes an ingenious use of metafiction to create a bridge that connects the ‘real’ and the vampiric spaces. Rose finds it uncanny that “uncle Lestan’s physical descriptions perfectly matched that of “the vampire Lestat” [..] […]Now that was a good pun. […]She realized that she was now thinking of Uncle Lestan as the main character.” (Rice, Prince Lestat)

    After becoming the keeper of the Sacred Core, Lestat regains his central place in the vampiric realm “taking a position in the middle of a circle [of young vampires], I explained that I was now their prince and I wouldn’t fail them.” (Rice, Prince Lestat) Here, we observe the change in Lestat’s personality: from the creature that defies rules and challenges boundaries, he becomes a monarch, acknowledging the responsibilities he has towards the others.

    As for the union between Lestat and Amel, it is perhaps the sprit’s loneliness and despair that touches Lestat. The mutual understanding and Lestat’s weakness for the damned souls make him accept to become Amel’s host. “I reached out and I told it that I would embrace it, I would know it, I would take into myself its love, its pain. I will take into myself what you are.” (Rice, Prince Lestat) The passing of Amel from Mekare to Lestat is done by the latter’s consuming her brain, just like the redheaded twins did in their ritual with the brain of their mother. Thus, the Core is transposed into Lestat’s body that Amel finds magnificent.

    Although Lestat and Amel are the central characters of the book, is interesting to bring to discussion Benji and Fareed who are completely attuned with the 21st century. Benji sets up the radio for vampires and the website, receives phone calls and constitutes a helpline for the young vampires. The idea of including a radio for the undead seems interesting precisely because in this way Rice offers a technologically-mediated means of communication to her vampires.

    Fareed, the immortal doctor conducting research on vampires, is probably one of the most interesting newly-introduced characters due to his strong connection to medical advancements. He is presented as the modern cure for the vampires’ impairments as he offers a vampiric leg to Flavius, the disabled vampire and new vampiric eyes for Maharet; in a post-human, or rather, post-vampire fashion.

    With vampires that embrace technology and others that are still at odds with it; we can only wait and see what Rice’s immortals are going to do next, what stories they will tell. Although Louise Welsh closed her review of Prince Lestat saying that for the vampires, “the dawn approaches and it is time to go to bed”(Welsh) I would complete that with …but when the night comes, the vampires come out again because they still have something to show about themselves, and implicitly about ourselves…

    Bibliography

    Rice, Anne. Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles. New York: Knopf, 2014. Print.

    ---. “The Vampire Chronicles.” Web. 19 Jan. 2016.

    Schopp, Andrew. “Cruising the Alternatives: Homoeroticism and the Contemporary Vampire.” The Journal of Popular Culture 30.4 (1997): 231–243. Wiley Online Library. Web.

    Welsh, Louise. “Prince Lestat by Anne Rice Review – Blood Drinkers with iPhones.” The Guardian 31 Oct. 2014. The Guardian. Web. 30 Jan. 2016.

     

     

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