Are Vampire Novels Accurate?

by Shari
(Middle East)

Question:
I am interested in researching vampires and the myths about them. How do you find a real vampire and not someone who is acting like one? Do vampires live in covens, alone or share immortality with a love? There are a lot of new vampire novels and movies out. Are any of the following novels close to the truth about vampires? Twilight, Vampire Academy, House of Night and Vampire Diaries. (Vampire Diaries novels have some questionable items). Sorry if I over did it and thanks for any answers on my topic.

Answer:
Thanks for the questions, Shari. I've been wanting to discuss vampire novels for a while. As far as finding real vampires, this Q&A article should cover most of that. To determine if someone is a real vampire or not, you can try feeling their skin (it should be irrationally cold) or better yet, check for a heartbeat. Vampires do have hearts, but they don't need to pump fresh oxygen through their bloodstreams, so they have no need for their hearts to beat.

As far as the living in covens vs. alone I would say it depends on the individual. Vampires still have personalities and feelings, and like humans most don't like to be alone all the time. Nomadic vampires would most likely move around in small groups of 3-5 to avoid detection. Those who stay in one place would most likely live in a coven, or community, of which there would be many.

As for the vampire novels, I admit I have not read them all, but I'm aware of what most of them contain. I have mixed feelings about these. On one hand, it bothers me when I feel that authors have decided to simply "override" the classical mythology of these creatures in order to create a story, but at the same time, who is to say that their version of vampire mythology is right or wrong?

I'll use the Twilight series as an example, as that is one that most people know of and also has some of the most heinous violations of classical vampire mythology. If there are vampires in this world, I highly doubt they are anything like the vampires in these stories. While the Twilight vampires share the strength, speed, bloodlust, coldness, and a few other traits of the classical vampire, they also violate a few key traits that make a vampire what it is.

The fact that they can go out in the daylight (and sparkle rather than burn at that) is counter to everything we've ever been told about vampires. The Twilight vampires also appear to be able to enter homes and cars without an invitation, don't sleep during the day (or ever), and are never satisfactorily explained as to how they kill or can be killed. At one point they have to tear another vampire apart limb from limb and burn the pieces (which seems consistent with most vampire legends), but in others they seem to be able to just punch through other vampires as if they are made of plaster.

At the same time, the author, and all of the authors of these books and stories, has every right to create whatever kind of vampire mythology she wants. There are no rules to storytelling, and it's not like any of us can prove that her version of vampires is incorrect.

That said, what bothers me is when I get a general sense of disrespect for mythology from these authors and their stories, and Twilight is probably the worst of them all. I have no problem with an entertaining vampire love story, but to boldly and brazenly dismiss key elements of the mythology just for the sake of your plot line is disrespectful to the centuries of mythology that have come before you. Making it so that vampires no longer have to hide from the sun just so they can go to high school (why in the world would they do this to themselves, even if they could?) is downright stupid in my opinion. A good author should be able to construct the story around the mythology, not the other way around.

Besides, having a vampire that can go out in the daylight, not have to be invited in, have no aversion to garlic or silver, and still be super-powered makes for a pretty uninteresting mythology I think. I would argue that vampires are innately interesting because of their weaknesses. Twilight's perfectly-perfect vampires with no real weaknesses (except fighting other vampires and always winning) make them exceptionally boring in my opinion.

As for the other books and stories, the same applies. I like how in the Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood) the author honors more than just vampire mythology but includes many other mythical creatures and mythologies as well. It's entirely a matter of opinion, but I find stories like these significantly more interesting and satisfying than those that sacrifice the mythology because it "gets in the way" of their storyline.

If you want to know the real-deal classical mythology of vampires, you can find it all on this site in the Vampires section.

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