How Louis and Lestat Influenced Vampire Stories with Elegance
For those of us who have heard the bone chilling stories of Dracula and still cross ourselves when we hear footsteps behind us, who still chew garlic, and lock our windows firmly before we sleep, it is easy to confuse vampires with demons. Many authors and their descriptions have told us that vampires are evil and wicked because any creature that feeds off the death of another isn’t meant to exist in our kind conscience pricking world. But in 1976, an English writer Anne Rice, decided to disprove these insulting stereotypes by leaking to us a secret exclusive coverage in a novel she titled “Interview with The Vampire”.
The novel is widely praised as one of her best works and the scariest too, as it begins with a 200 year old vampire we would come to know as Louis de Pointe du Lac, asking a very young human boy “But how much tape do you have with you?… Enough for the story?” The story referred to here is the one told throughout the novel. The story is about the then 25 year old mortal Louis who had just lost his brother and was desperate to die also. He didn’t care who would do it so it seemed fortunate at first that his murderer would be a creature so willful in killing.
Dying comes at a cost because Louis opens his eyes hours after as an undead bloodsucker, cursed to walk the night. Being a vampire comes so unnatural to Louis that he swears never to feed on humans like the vampire that turned him, Lestat, who feeds on slaves in the plantation fields. The novel is set in 1791 France, a time when Africans were transported to Europe as slaves for plantation farms and other hard labors. As superstitious as those African slaves were, it wasn’t too difficult for them to arrive at the conclusion that a monster was kidnapping and killing them one by one.
They became vigilant enough to find out Louis and Lestat were the perpetrators. They had a secret room they never came out from in the daytime, looked pale, and were never seen eating food – but just before the slaves could kill them both vampires escape to New Orleans. Away from the smaller animals on the farm and the forest in France, Louis is forced to feed off street dwellers in back alleys but refuses to kill them. His blood lust soon makes him feed off a five year old girl who is lying beside her mother’s corpse.
Horrified by what he has done and what he is, Louis attempts to escape Lestat and his vampire influences. But the cruel vampire Lestat turns the five year old girl into a vampire too, forcing Louis to stay with him. They name her Claudia, and unlike Louis, this new vampire daughter is a better killer.
After 60 years in the same body of a five year old, Claudia plots to kill Lestat by poisoning him and succeeds for a short while before Lestat recovers soon enough to attack both Claudia and Louis in their home. Both Vampires are forced to burn their home with Lestat still in it and flee back to Europe in search of better, well-mannered vampires.
They travel across eastern Europe first with no luck until they return to France, where they find a four hundred year old vampire known as Armand. Armand has a coven of vampires who feed on the terrified audiences of the ancient French theatre they occupy. They pass as human, so the audience think the killings on stage are just theatre performances, but they are not. Claudia despises these cheap tricks, but Louis grows very attracted to Armand.
Both Louis and Claudia are soon captured by the coven when Lestat returns for them. He has survived the fire and wants his revenge. Louis is locked in a coffin to starve while Claudia is burned alive in daylight. Armand later rescues Louis but Louis refuses to leave until he has burnt down the theater and killed all vampires of the coven. When Louis ends his story describing how painful it feels being immortal, he becomes very angry when the boy expresses no sympathy for him. He attacks the boy and vanishes without a trace.
Many reviewers have praised this novel for its sentimental depiction of vampires as creatures capable of love, revenge, grief and regret, not just blind rage and blood lust. Interview with the Vampire is the first novel in Rice’s The Vampire Chronicle book series and has been adapted into the 1994 movie starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise with the same title. The 368 paged categorized fiction novel is rumored to be true in some settings and Anne’s exclusive is priceless.
Interview with the Vampire (1994) Original Trailer