The Sussex Vampire, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Literary Vampire

This is a story that gives us the opportunity to see one of history’s oldest, surviving legends, as it developed through the years. The idea of the vampire was certainly not new to Victorian, England — any more than Edward and his “family” coined the idea of vamiprism today. In fact this is a history that dates back to Vlad the Impaler. However, it wasn’t until the rise of the Bram Stoker’s version of Dracula that the legend of the vampire truly took flight. And while this particular book was written twenty-seven years following the advent of Dracula, it is interesting to note that the setting for this story is around 1896, one year before the actual publication of Stoker’s work.But what sets this apart from the typical vampire stories is that the great Holmes is no proponent of the existence of the vampire. This is probably a reflection of Doyle’s belief that in science there is no room for fictionalized creatures, even if they have been glamorized through the acceptance of the public. But it is this approach in the attempt to disprove the existence of such creatures that sets this apart from other works in the vampire genre.The existence of a vampire is tantamount to the existence of evil incarnate. Simply put, when the vampire legend was born, it embodied the belief that evil was a physical entity that had the capacity to take form, and walk abroad among men. However, for the lovers of science the concept of evil is as intangible as the mystic traditions of religion, and spiritualism. And in fact, the concept of evil had its origins in the same religious beliefs that have been handed down through the generations. By tackling the superstitions surrounding evil, and allowing the voice of Holmes to make an investigation into the existence of evil, Doyle is in fact declaring that true evil is to be found in men, and not in the realms of mystic belief.True evil are the acts that one commits against another, and it takes men to be able to accomplish this feat. So in fact, this piece of work can be considered Doyle’s pronouncement against the idea that evil exists in a solitary form — but rather it is embodied in men. And all men are capable of some of the most heinous acts, which we frequently brand with the label of evil.Overall, this is a good story. And it offers an interesting insight into the fact that once the immortal nature of the vampire legend was established through the writings of Stoker, it grew into an independent area of fiction, which eventually developed into a genre all its own. Doyle is just one stopping point along the journey from Count Dracula to the Edwards and Bellas of today. And while the shape, form, and manifestation of the vampire persona has change dramatically over the years — the basic concepts behind the vampire itself are still as true to their origins as the day they were first penned by Stoker.

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