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Carmilla (Dodo Press) [Paperback]

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu , J. Sheridan Le Fanu
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Aug 2007
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) was an Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels. He was the premier ghost story writer of the nineteenth century and had a seminal influence on the development of this genre in the Victorian era. Le Fanu studied law at Trinity College in Dublin. He soon abandoned law for journalism. In 1838 he began contributing stories to the Dublin University Magazine. He became owner of several newspapers from 1840, including the Dublin Evening Mail and the Warder. Le Fanu worked in many genres but remains best known for his mystery and horror fiction. He was a meticulous craftsman, with a penchant for frequently reworking plots and ideas from his earlier writing in subsequent pieces of writing. He specialised in tone and effect rather than "shock horror", often following a mystery format. Key to his style was the avoidance of overt supernatural effects. Among his famous works are: The House by the Church-Yard (1863), Uncle Silas (1864), Carmilla (1872), The Purcell Papers (1880), and The Evil Guest (1895).

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Product details

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: Dodo Press (10 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1406551635
  • ISBN-13: 978-1406551631
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,635,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Publisher


Tracey has just finished a sell-out run playing Martha to Matthew Kelly's George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at London's Trafalgar Studios.

Tracey is best known for playing Lynne Howard in the popular eighties drama Howards' Way, and Linda Cosgrove in the long running Born and Bred.

Theatre credits include The New Vic's production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Great Gatsby, Sybil in Private Lives, Stepping Out, No Sex Please, We're British, Why Me?, The Hollow and The Unexpected Guest. Television work includes Prometheus, playing Rose in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Devil's Crown, The Amazing Affair of Adelaide Harris, Strangers, Landseer- Working Out The Beast, playing Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, Bergerac, Jane Eyre, Captain Zep, A Talent for Murder, As Seen on TV and Dempsey and Makepeace. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Back Cover

The foremost teller of scary stories in his day and a profound influence on both the novelists and filmmakers of the 20th century, Anglo-Irish author JOSEPH THOMAS SHERIDAN LE FANU (1814-1873) has, sadly, fallen out of scholarly and popular favor, and unfairly so. To this day, contemporary readers who happen across his works praise his talent for weaving a tense literary atmosphere tinged by the supernatural and bolstered by hints of ambiguous magic. "Carmilla" is Le Fanu's 1872 novella--also included in the collection of short fiction In a Glass Darkly--of lesbian vampirism, a chilling and terrifying tale of a young girl who comes under the evil influence of a female vampire. The prototype of an entire subgenre of vampire fiction, a clear inspiration for Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, and the source material for countless movies, this is one of the more significant yet least appreciated works of pop culture of the past two centuries. With a series of new editions of Le Fanu's works, Cosimo is proud to reintroduce modern book lovers to the writings of the early master of suspense fiction who pioneered the concept of "psychological horror."
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Always A Classic 12 Feb 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I never get tired of this tale, so I was glad to see that it was available on kindle for free. If you are into vampire fiction then you have surely read this before, if not many times. First published in 1872, this tale was more influential upon Dracula than any other.

The story is told us from the perspective of Laura, who lives with her father in a schloss in Styria. At six she had what others attributed a nightmare, but she thinks was a real occurence. Jump forward to Laura at nineteen, when she meets Carmilla.

Although this is a vampire tale there is a strong lesbian theme between the two young ladies, although this isn't overt and is fitting with the time it was written. Usually overshadowed by Dracula these days this is really a tale that is a classic in its own rights.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, but a fun read! 3 Feb 2009
Where do I start wit this little story? Well first of all as the blurb suggests, this story is about a young girl of seemingly aristocratic standing living with her father within his Eastern European country manor. Things go well until the mysterious arrival of a sickly young woman named Carmilla, for whom whose care is thrust upon the father/daughter duo by the stranger's apparently caretaker. No sooner was this done do the two girl become friends, albeit with a sinister almost sexual predation underlining it. And that is when things get interesting..

Now, some of you are no doubt curious as to what that last sentence meant. Basically without meaning to spoil the story, Carmilla herself is a sort of vampiric were-creature that has a tendency to befriend and eventually feed off delightful young girls such as the heroine of the story. Although for the time the author probably couldn't afford to be overt about his intentions for the characters relationships, there is none the less a very strong innuendo that suggest that their friendship goes a little beyond platonic. This makes for an interesting character dynamic, as much like Dracula was written after it, the story itself is told in a diary like narrative. You gain the impression that although the heroine was disturbed by her experiences, she none the less still held a deep fascination for Carmilla. I presume this was to make up for the fact that due to the heroines elevated social status she was to a large extent isolated and alone, thus yearned for the sort of companionship Carmilla provided.

As for the writing style of the book, I found it surprisingly accessible for a book written so long ago. Although I occasionally sniggered at the quaint descriptions given to otherwise mundane topics i.e.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic vampire fiction 25 July 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Carmilla, the lesbian were-vampire; it sounds like a bad b-movie or the storyline from a pulp fiction novel. (I think Hammer did make a trilogy in the '70's loosely based on the story. I haven't seen them.) However, Carmilla was published in 1872, twenty-five years before Dracula appeared in print, and in my opinion is far superior to it.

The novel is set in Austria, where the narrator, Laura, lives a lonely life with her English father, nursemaid and governess. Their nearest neighbours are General Spielsdorf and his niece, Bertha; in-between is a ruined castle and deserted village. Laura has yet to be introduced to the latter, and she hopes that they will become friends. However, her hopes are dashed when her father receives a letter from the General, informing them that the young woman has died in mysterious and distressing circumstances. That evening, Carmilla (literally) comes crashing into her life when the carriage she is travelling in overturns in front of their castle. They are manipulated into offering the young woman a place to stay, because her "mother", who is in a great hurry, must go on and leave her behind to recuperate, but there is no inn in the area. Soon afterwards, young women in the locality begin to die in strange circumstances...

The story contains many of the familiar motifs that you might expect to find in vampire story, but it is far from dull. Le Fanu, perhaps better known for his detective stories has quite a subtle style of writing, relying on tone and effect to set the scene, rather than sensationalism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lady is a Vamp 27 Dec 2013
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Set in 19th century Austria, Laura is a lonely young woman living with her father and their two servants in the Styrian countryside until one fateful night when she and her father encounter a mysterious stagecoach barrelling through the forest near their house. Rather rashly, her father agrees to let the sickly young woman inside stay in their house while her strange mother continue on her journey. And then people in the surrounding area start dying of an unknown disease and the peasants start muttering about an "oupire". Who, or what, is Laura's new friend, Carmilla, really - and will she survive the encounter long enough to find out?

Nowadays vampires are so prevalent in popular culture, nearly everyone knows about them. Their traits, their behaviours, every aspect of the vampire is so well defined that this Victorian story can seem quaint in the way it plays up the mystery of Carmilla. But when J. Sheridan Le Fanu's novella Carmilla was published in 1872 (the year before the author's death), the vampire was a relatively unknown creature in popular culture. John Polidori's short story The Vampyre had been published to some success a few decades earlier and the pulpy Varney the Vampire had been a popular series, but Bram Stoker's Dracula, the most famous vampire novel ever written and the book that would launch vampires permanently into the mainstream, wouldn't appear for another 25 years.

In fact, Carmilla is credited by Stoker as an influence in the creation of his novel, and it's easy to see why.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars for real?
I see this on a London university reading list so I believe its original, but it reads so much like a spoof of Victorian literature its almost worth reading. For a few pages. Read more
Published 1 month ago by S. WOODRUFF
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible
No page numbers, no blurb. Text is horribly formatted. Horrible font. This is not something you want on your shelf.
Published 4 months ago by Niall Cunniffe
5.0 out of 5 stars Short read but I loved it
I can see how Dracular was based slightly on this book.
I am a sucker for vampire stories (no pun intended) this one is on of my favourites.
Published 5 months ago by Ms. S. J. Rider
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing.
Big fan of the classics. This book was so hard to put down it was unreal. Kept me gripped. Wish I could give a higher rating.
Published 6 months ago by Alice
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyed
Enjoyed the suspense, the drama and the excitement! Much food for thought to discuss after reading, would highly recommend a look.
Published 8 months ago by Callan Stevenson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellently written - lovely story
I agree with most of the other comments - this story is older (by 20 years) than Dracula, but it unfortunately didn't become as popular. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Vedi2010
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This is a good, if somewhat simple read. The suspense builds up, but the climax is a little lacklustre. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Heather O'Sullivan
2.0 out of 5 stars Draculas better
Thought it was a good book on vampires, I enjoyed Dracula more in all honesty though, but a good classic
Published 12 months ago by Abbi G
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic !
The only negative thing I could say about this is it's too short ! If you enjoy vampire novels then it's a must , published before Dracula its the first proper novel on the genre .
Published 13 months ago by M Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars .
Who wouldn't be delighted to find the public domain list of FREE classic literature. This is fantastic. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mrs. Little
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