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A Critical Edition

by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Publication Year: 2013

Costello-Sullivan has compiled a student-friendly version of Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire tale, “Carmilla.” This critical edition includes an introduction by the editor, a timeline, a short biographical sketch of the author, a selected bibliography, and four original, scholar-authored essays that explicate the novella for an undergraduate audience. This work situates “Carmilla” within its Irish cultural milieu and treats the text as self-standing rather than as a precursor to Dracula.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. vii-viii


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p. ix-ix

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p. xi-xi

I thank Syracuse University Press for the opportunity to produce this edition, in particular Jim MacKillop and Glenn Wright for approaching me with the project, as well as Jennika Baines, Annelise Finegan, and Annie Barva for their expert help and professionalism in bringing ...

Notes on the Text

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pp. xiii-xv

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Introduction: Meet Carmilla

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pp. xvii-xxvi

First serialized in the journal The Dark Blue and published shortly thereafter in the short story collection In a Glass Darkly, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire tale is in many ways the overlooked older sister of Bram Stoker’s later and more acclaimed work Dracula.1 Despite its acknowledged influence on the later text and its recognition ...

Part One

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p. 3-3

Upon a paper attached to the Narrative which follows, Doctor Hes-selius has written a rather elaborate note, which he accompanies with a reference to his Essay on the strange subject which the MS. illuminates.This mysterious subject, he treats, in that Essay, with his usual learning and acumen, and with remarkable directness and condensa-...

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pp. 4-9

In Styria,1 we, though by no means magnifi cent people, inhabit a castle, or schloss.2 A small income, in that part of the world, goes a great way. Eight or nine hundred a year does wonders. Scantily enough ours would have answered among wealthy people at home. My father is English, and I bear an English name, although I never ...

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pp. 10-18

I am now going to tell you something so strange that it will require all your faith in my veracity to believe my story. It is not only true, nevertheless, but truth of which I have been an eye-witness. It was a sweet summer evening, and my father asked me, as he sometimes did, to take a little ramble with him along that beautiful ...

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pp. 19-26

We followed the cortege1 with our eyes until it was swiftly lost to sight in the misty wood; and the very sound of the hoofs and the wheels died away in the silent night air. Nothing remained to assure us that the adventure had not been an illusion of a moment but the young lady, who just at that moment ...

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pp. 27-37

I told you that I was charmed with her in most particulars. There were some that did not please me so well. She was above the middle height of women. I shall begin by describing her. She was slender, and wonderfully graceful. Except that her movements were languid—very languid—indeed, there was ...

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pp. 38-42

This evening there arrived from Gratz1 the grave, dark-faced son of the picture cleaner, with a horse and cart laden with two large packing cases, having many pictures in each. It was a journey of ten leagues, and whenever a messenger arrived at the schloss from our little capital of Gratz, we used to crowd about him in the hall, to ...

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pp. 43-47

When we got into the drawing-room, and had sat down to our coffee and chocolate, although Carmilla did not take any, she seemed quite herself again, and Madame, and Mademoiselle De LaFontaine, joined us, and made a little card party, in the course of which papa came in ...

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pp. 48-54

It would be vain my attempting to tell you the horror with which, even now, I recall the occurrence of that night. It was no such transitory terror as a dream leaves behind it. It seemed to deepen by time, and communicated itself to the room and the very furniture that had ...

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pp. 55-58

At sight of the room, perfectly undisturbed except for our violent entrance, we began to cool a little, and soon recovered our senses suffi ciently to dismiss the men. It had struck Mademoiselle that possibly Carmilla had been wakened by the uproar at her door, and in her fi rst panic had jumped from her bed, and hid herself in a press,1 or ...

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pp. 59-64

As Carmilla would not hear of an attendant sleeping in her room, my father arranged that a servant should sleep outside her door, so that she could not attempt to make another such excursion without being arrested at her own door. That night passed quietly; and next morning early, the doctor, ...

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pp. 65-68

It was about ten months since we had last seen him; but that time had suffi ced to make an alteration of years in his appearance. He had grown thinner; something of gloom and anxiety had taken the place of that cordial serenity which used to characterise his features. His dark blue eyes, always penetrating, now gleamed with a sterner light ...

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pp. 69-73

“With all my heart,” said the General, with an effort; and after a short pause in which to arrange his subject, he commenced one of the strangest narratives I had ever heard. “My dear child was looking forward with great pleasure to the visit you had been so good as to arrange for her to your charming ...

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pp. 74-78

“‘Then we are to lose Madame the Countess, but I hope only for a few hours,’ I said, with a low bow. “‘It may be that only, or it may be a few weeks. It was very unlucky his speaking to me just now as he did. Do you now know me?’ “I assured her I did not. “‘You shall know me,’ she said, ‘but not at present. We are older ...

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pp. 79-83

“There soon, however, appeared some drawbacks. In the fi rst place, Millarca complained of extreme languor—the weakness that remained after her late illness—and she never emerged from her room till the afternoon was pretty far advanced. In the next place, it was accidentally discovered, although she always locked her door on the inside, ...

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pp. 84-88

“My beloved child,” he resumed, “was now growing rapidly worse. The physician who attended her had failed to produce the slightest impression upon her disease, for such I then supposed it to be. He saw my alarm, and suggested a consultation. I called in an abler physician, from Gratz. Several days elapsed before he arrived. He was a good and ...

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pp. 89-92

As he spoke one of the strangest looking men I ever beheld, entered the chapel at the door through which Carmilla had made her entrance and her exit. He was tall, narrow-chested, stooping, with high shoulders, and dressed in black. His face was brown and dried in with deep furrows; he wore an oddly-shaped hat with a broad leaf. His hair, long ...

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pp. 93-96

I write all this you suppose with composure. But far from it; I cannot think of it without agitation. Nothing but your earnest desire so repeatedly expressed, could have induced me to sit down to a task that has unstrung my nerves for months to come, and reinduced a shadow of the unspeakable horror which years after my deliverance ...

Part Two

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An Irish Carmilla?

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pp. 99-109

It is best to be straight from the very beginning: Ireland is never mentioned in Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1871). To argue that the story, although set in eastern Europe, is “really about” Ireland initially appears improbable. This improbability has not, however, dissuaded some of my more intrepid forerunners, most important Robert Tracy, ...

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Carmilla and the Politics of Indistinguishability

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pp. 110-121

Despite a prolific writing career, an impressive literary reputation during his lifetime, and a style that contemporary critics have come to label a “distinctive Anglo-Irish Gothic mode” (Glover 1996, 29),1 Sheridan Le Fanu’s fame as a gothic writer has come to rest primarily on a novel he did not write: Bram Stoker’s 1897 Dracula, whose ...

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A “Ghastly Fancy”

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pp. 122-137

In a pivotal scene in Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire tale Carmilla, an ancient portrait that has been in the possession of our narrator’s maternal family has been restored. Our female narrator, Laura, is at once entranced by the portrait—calling it “beautiful,” “startling,” “liv[ing],” “an absolute miracle”—and, perhaps most significantly, ...

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On Celluloid Carmillas

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pp. 138-148

For a book that has long dwelt in the shadows of Britain’s literary canon, Carmilla has exerted a powerful hold on film. To date, at least seven adaptations have been produced, and countless other movies have engaged the text in some way. No doubt, Le Fanu’s voluptuous vampire inspires this attraction. With more than three thousand vampire ...

Back matter


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pp. 151-153

Works Cited and Additional Materials

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pp. 155-163

Biographical Notes

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pp. 165-168

E-ISBN-13: 9780815652045
E-ISBN-10: 0815652046
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815633112
Print-ISBN-10: 0815633114

Page Count: 196
Illustrations: 3 Color Illustrations
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Horror fiction. -- gsafd.
  • Styria (Austria) -- Fiction.
  • Vampires -- Fiction.
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