Vampirism as literary piracy in Paul Féval’s Vampire City (1875)
Civale, S. 2022. Vampirism as literary piracy in Paul Féval’s Vampire City (1875). Global Nineteenth-Century Studies.
The prolific French writer Paul Féval was well known on both sides of the Channel for his stories of adventure, crime, and gothic horror. In this final category of his oeuvre are three vampire novels, the last of which is Vampire City (originally La Ville-Vampire in French), published in book form in 1875. This novel features Ann Radcliffe as an intrepid adventure heroine who leaves her fiancé on the morning of their wedding in order to rescue her friends from vampires on the Continent. On one level, Vampire City is a parody of the classic gothic novel, displaying all the graphic violence and supernatural peril that Radcliffe herself—the most popular and widely translated novelist of the 1790s—eschewed, along with a wry and sometimes slapstick humour that takes aim at national stereotypes about class, gender, nation, and literature. Modern critics have often focused on the humorous elements of the text, highlighting it as pure “pastiche” and distinguishing it from Féval’s first two vampire novels which involved "forays into more sensitive and dangerous areas" (Gibson, 108). Closer attention to the story and to the frame narrative that encloses it, however, suggests that Vampire City offers more than just pastiche or parody. This essay argues that in Vampire City Féval advances a serious critique of the cross-Channel literary marketplace in the Victorian period by using vampirism as an allegory for literary piracy. While condemning literary theft (in all its various forms), though, Féval uses an irreverent alternative history of Ann Radcliffe and a spirited manipulation of the tropes of the classic gothic novel to carve out a place for ‘unoriginal’ creativity with integrity.
|Keywords||Vampire; Nineteenth century; Gothic literature; Plagiarism; Paul Feval; Ann Radcliffe; French literature|
|Journal||Global Nineteenth-Century Studies|
|Publisher||Liverpool University Press|
|Publication process dates|
|Accepted||13 Apr 2022|
|Deposited||11 May 2022|
|Accepted author manuscript|
|Output status||In press|
2views this month
2downloads this month