Epsode 16: Carmilla by J Sheridan Le Fanu (Part 3)

Carmilla Part 3

Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was born in Ireland in 1814. He was highly regarded both in his time and afterwards as a master of the ghost story genre. He wrote many wonderful stories, but here we focus on his vampire story Carmilla. 

I think it’s very interesting and a little amusing, that Joseph’s father — in common with many writers of ghost stories as it happens — was a strict Protestant churchman. 

I wonder whether Joseph Sheridan — or JT as I’m calling him — ever showed Carmilla , or read it aloud to his dad. 

Le Fanu was a master of Gothic description, and in Carmilla his abilities are at their height. 

For me one of the most engaging descriptions is that of the castle in the deep and inaccessible forest in Styria in Austria. It is almost poetic. We also have great descriptions of the graveyard at Castle Karnstein towards the end of the story and the masked ball scene which is related to us by the general also sounds splendid.

The masked ball from Carmilla was borrowed and done very lushly in the movie Van Helsing where Kate Beckinsale, one of my favourite female vampires, looks lush indeed.

Some of the sensuality between Camilla and the protagonist is described in almost erotic detail. I think that Le Fanu was not naive about this and , of course, he had to sell stories to make a living and he did this very well.. 

The stock characters such as the woodsman and the bizarre Baron Vordenburg who acts as a Van Helsing type vampire expert that comes in to solve all the problems towards the end, are both fun.

In terms of the structure of this novella, I feel it could actually have been a novel. The ending to me was a little bit rushed. Camilla disappears and then it’s sorted and fixed within minutes it seems. 

As I was reading it my imagination extended it to as throughout Italy and Europe with Camilla visiting the protagonist in her bed and then hunting her much as the gang do in Dracula. That being said, there is a nice structure to the story in that almost the first thing that happens is that the expected female guest is now tragic tragic not coming giving a great disappointment to our Laura the protagonist.

The general in his letter is very disturbed but we are not told why and so kept in suspense until the end when the General neatly appears, closing the circle of the story. I guess we anticipate something like this happening

Next time I’m going to do something shorter and American I have in mind doing one of Russell Kirk stories. Although Kirk was an American writer and he set a lot of his ghost stories in England and there is one I want to do around Christmas so I’m debating whether to do that in an English or American accent.

In terms of podcast business, we had a lovely review on iTunes from Gabby which I was delighted to read, so thank you Gabby for that.

Reviews likes and shares are the lifeblood of the podcast and enable it to surge forward to ever increasing popularity which is my aim — obviously.

I therefore politely but wholeheartedly encourage you to like, share and support the podcast. I think reading so much wordy Victorian stuff, influences one’s vocabulary!

If you listen to podcasts in general you will be aware that the podcasters always make a play for you to join up and subscribe and support the podcast. I put the link down below just in case you fancy doing that.

You may notice that I changed the podcast music; because I actually lost the original MP3 of the other so this is a royalty free one called Ben sounds scary music.

Case I’m rambling again. I’ll have a story for you again next week.

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