Saturday, December 26, 2020

Carmilla: A Critical Edition – review

Author: Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Editor: Kathleen Costello-Sullivan

First published: 2013 (edition)

The Blurb: First serialized in the journal "The Dark Blue" and published shortly thereafter in the short story collection In a Glass Darkly, Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire tale is in many ways the overlooked older sister of Bram Stoker’s more acclaimed Dracula. A thrilling gothic tale, Carmilla tells the story of a young woman lured by the charms of a female vampire.

This edition includes a student-oriented introduction, tracing the major critical responses to Carmilla, and four interdisciplinary essays by leading scholars who analyze the story from a variety of theoretical perspectives. Ranging from politics to gender, Gothicism to feminism, and nineteenth-century aestheticism to contemporary film studies, these critical yet accessible articles model the diverse ways

The review: Like Dracula, Carmilla is a piece of literature that genre fans are likely to have more than once and look at different editions for their collection. This edition is interesting as it draws attention to the slight differences between the version of the text originally published in The Dark Blue and its version when part of In a Glass Darkly. Beyond this, probably the most telling correction is in the dialogue of De Lafontaine where she says (before Carmilla’s arrival), “this night… …is full of odylic and magnetic influence” (p 13). Many editions ‘correct’ this to idyllic but odylic (as the footnote to this informs) refers to the hypothetical force odyle that was claimed to be behind mesmerism and animal magnetism.

The edition also includes four essays that are cross-disciplinary and cover Irish studies (and the interpretation of Le Fanu’s tale within that context), aesthetics and a look at the novella through the lens of Burke and Gilpin’s theorems and finally within cinema. The essays are interesting, though the one on cinema was incredibly whistle-stop, and add layers to the edition.

All in all, this is a decent edition, if only for the comparison laid out between Le Fanu’s two editions of the tale. It is, however, a tad pricey compared to other editions – being released by a University Press (in this case Syracuse). 8 out of 10 (for the edition, not the Le Fanu content, which is classic after all).

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK

No comments: