Thursday, November 20, 2014


The undead who was not a living dead is back to life


We had been waiting for that return of Lestat in glory and fame for many years indeed, since 2003. We of course know about the two films adapted from the Vampire Chronicles, “Interview with The Vampire” in 1994 and “The Queen of the Damned” in 2002, which were quite short as compared to the eleven volumes published in 2002, and twelve in 2003. What went wrong? It is said that Anne Rice signed a bad contract for these adaptations selling the character, Lestat de Lioncourt, along with the adaptation rights to a bad “partner.” That blocked her absolutely for the whole series of books because she could not negotiate other contracts for the other volumes, in spite of the rather poor use of this contract by the person or firm that bought the rights. Luckily this contract has a limited duration and that duration must have come to an end. The rights must have gone back to the author, Anne Rice.

She can then start the whole business all over again. But in the meantime the vampire stage has changed tremendously. Anne Rice is the author who managed to finally give some positive image of vampires, after and along with witches, in literature and her books became extremely popular. Due to the bad adaptation contract and the bad partner she took in this adventure, the vampire stage was left totally empty for cinema and television, particularly television, where numerous series were produced in the US and in Great Britain, with vampires, but also werewolves and ghosts as their main characters along the similar line of a society that is trying to live and organize itself independently from the human world, next to it, parallel to it. We all know these series that became films conjugating diaries and other academies or even attempts at being human. It was too often nothing but some schematic fan-fiction based on Anne Rice’s work.

So, after a long absence of Lestat de Lioncourt from the vampire stage, even longer that ten years because the last three volumes of the “series” are in fact not part of the Vampire Chronicles per say since they are bringing together the Mayfair witches from an other line of creation and some side characters of the vampire world in the absence of Lestat de Lioncourt, after this long absence was I saying Lestat de Lioncourt has to reintroduce himself and re-knit the various threads together and re-fill the enormous gap and put his imitators back in their side-track place. Anne Rice does that marvelously by bringing all her main campire characters, and even some of the not so mainstream ones, into the picture, into the modern world of 2013. This is a great attempt though it is also slightly disturbing for the reader because of the great number of characters. Luckily Anne Rice gives us the nearly full list of the characters in the book, and the list is long: forty eight names, in fact more than that as for names since some have up to three names, and the twin sisters are under one entry only instead of two. But after a while we get up to that vast population and we do not have to check every single one character every single five minutes.

At the same time she has to bring to an end a line that was started with the very first novel in the series. The first three volumes that saw the re-emergence of Queen Akasha and her death with the transmission of the core to Mekare, one of the two twin witches who was extremely handicapped physically and mentally, so that this core, the spirit Amel, had to become dissatisfied and rowdy. The present volume is the story of how this core, this spirit Amel, is transferred from Mekare to, and that is no secret from the very start because of the title, Lestat himself. This transfer of this spirit from a vegetative body to an extremely active character is a radical turning point in the timeline of the story. It becomes a new start and Anne Rice can take her revenge on those authors who exploited her line of business in her absence. It is no mystery that Lestat was the reviver of the vampire world and that he brought the revival within a radical change: vampires are a tribe, an organized society. So it is justice he becomes the Prince of this world.

If Prince he is supposed to become after having been the brat prince for so many years, he has to bring to this society a civilizing and acculturating project that will transform the vampire world into a democratic constitutional monarchy on the joint model of the USA and Great Britain. This point being reached the series can start again and many more volumes will be able to be published if Anne Rice does not waste too much energy on older projects like the pornographic adventures of Beauty, or minor adventures like the life of Jesus. She has opened a gate that could bring together vampires, witches and ghosts. She can add werewolves maybe from her new line of fiction or even some of her free lance angels and their other recent line of fiction of hers. She obviously follows the line of the British series “Being Human” that merges vampires, werewolves and ghosts together, and she at the same time gets down to the task of making these vampires lovable and tremendously attractive by their ethical approach of their preying nature: be the cleansers of society and destroy all the evil doers. Her werewolves are going the same way.

That obsession of an ethical orientation, which is if I can say so the sexual orientation of these vampires and their fellow werewolves, since they cannot have any sexual impulse, drive or satisfaction, is in a way a good idea but also a limit, though it will enter in conflict with many other elements and quite a few vampires or werewolves will not be able to abide by it, creating conflicts and dramatic situations. There is a lot of work on Anne Rice’s writing desk indeed.

But it is interesting to see the ideological orientation Anne Rice advocates in this new volume. She has pushed aside the Catholic approach of things very systematically, even to the point of not referring to any church (except Sainte Chapelle in Paris which is nothing but a touristic attraction), I mean the building called a church, nor any religious art, any religious reference. Lestat de Lioncourt goes back to his native Auvergne where he has his father’s castle rebuilt and there is no mention of the chapel that had to have been in this castle. In fact Anne Rice becomes very fuzzy as for details with this move. In Auvergne all castles were “nationalized” and quite a few burnt down to their foundations by the French Revolution. The few castles that have not been completely destroyed either are public property, or very strictly controlled as heritage, be they private or public. That means those that have been damaged by the revolution of time cannot be rebuilt at all. I do not know one case in Auvergne of such a castle that would have been entirely rebuilt. The only castles that are in full proper shape are not from the Middle Ages, but from the nineteenth century, like the Royal castle of Randan. One exception is the castle of Ravel, because it was not damaged at all by the Revolution because Admiral d’Estaing, the partner of La Fayette in the war of Independence of the USA, had entirely freed his serves and redistributed his land, hence abandoned all his feudal privileges, before the revolution.

Same story in Chavaniac Lafayette where Lafayette’s castle is in perfect state and was not damaged by the revolution for the very same reason. All other castles I know have been damaged by the revolution and by time and are just starting to be renovated which means consolidated for security but not rebuilt, at least so far, because of heritage rules.

So I do not see how an old castle of that type could be rebuilt by someone who cannot claim he is a descendant of the old feudal baron, especially since anyway this castle was either made public, hence is unsellable, or sold out to some private interests, at times like abbeys, among several public or private buyers, like the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu or of Mauriac. Anne Rice had had given us the habit of being a lot more precise on such details. That sounds slightly sloppy and disrespectful for the country concerned.

Along that line, and for the first time ever, she uses some unacceptable grammar. I guess she would not say an American citizen was born in THE Mississippi, though she very easily says that Lestat de Lioncourt was born in THE Auvergne. Luckily this administrative unit is not a river, otherwise it would be a very wet birth. But Ø Auvergne has never been anything else but an administrative unit, hence it does not require to use an article. She is right to say THE Massif Central since this is a geological unit, but Auvergne is not. It used to be a dukedom (Capital Montferrand) and in a way an archdiocese (sea Clermont), an ecclesiastical unit, but never a geological unit. It is part of THE Massif Central but it is geologically a mountain alluvial plain, part of a volcanic chain and part of two very old crystalline mountain ranges. In other words it is a crisscross of geological elements brought together to build some kind of a military and administrative unit that controlled in the very old days of the Roman Empire and afterwards an enormous chunk of THE eastern Massif Central.

But she makes other grammatical mistakes when dealing with France. She systematically uses articles in front of street names, which is absurd in English. There is only one street in London that uses the article THE in oral usage, THE Strand. But she produces THE Champs Elysées which is wrong. It is one of the rare streets in French that uses an article. So she should use French grammar and say LES Champs Elysées because the article is part of the name, or she should use English grammar and then say Ø Champs Elysées without an article. But she even produces THE Marais for a neighborhood in Paris, as if in London with would speak of THE Chelsea and in New York of THE Harlem. When an article is used it is an exception justified historically like THE Bronx or grammatically like THE Isle of Man or THE Isle of Wight, but Ø Manhattan does not require an article. So then we have THE Café Cassette, THE Rue de Rennes, even worse THE Pompidou for Ø Pompidou Center without an article, also known as Ø Beaubourg without an article, though we could maybe consider museums require an article and maybe THE Louvre could be justified since we would say The National Gallery, THE MET, THE Tate Gallery, and yet Covent Garden without an article but this is an opera house and not a museum.

The case of THE Café Cassette is also slightly complex because it is a bar. We would not use an article with shops like Harrods, Foyles, or as for that many other public buildings like Victoria Station or Grand Central Station. But it is true we will say: to go to THE pub, to go to THE Harp, THE Porterhouse, THE Princess Louise, but we would go to Ø Cross Keys and Ø Punch and Judy. Yet the one I prefer is “Welcome to Ø Holy Cow fine Indian food, Ø Holy Cow's quality, refined, creative dishes.” I would certainly not say THE Buckingham Palace or THE Hyde Park, nor THE Scotland Yard, though I will say THE Monument (which is an exception). I would also say THE White House which seems to be an exception too, along with some monuments here and there (The Washington Monument but The Lincoln Memorial). So I would say either LES Tuileries or Ø Tuileries without an article since it is nothing but a public garden like Hyde Park and Green Park.

Anne Rice could also have asked Google to check her French spelling of “Sainte Chappelle” that she uses without an article, and that’s a good point since we all know Westminster Abbey, but it only takes ONE /p/, in fact the same as in English as for the number of /p/s.

Anne Rice has always been very scrupulous on research and language when dealing with Louisiana or New Orleans, with California and San Francisco. Why is she that sloppy with France? She would not go to THE lake Tahoe, drive her car on THE Russell Boulevard in Davis, and she would say concerning Los Angeles THE plaza, but Ø Pershing Square, Ø Elysian Park, Ø Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, THE Los Angeles Maritime Museum, THE Banning Residence Museum, THE Fort MacArthur Military Museum but Ø Drum Barracks Civil War Museum and Ø Travel Town in Ø Griffith Park ( Maybe she should invest on a French speaking proof-reader who would know modern usage and not the old Dickensian rule (Charles Dickens died in 1870) that all foreign place names were supposed to be introduced by a definite article. Even Stevenson (Robert Louis Stevenson died in 1894) knew that he could travel in Ø Lozère but cross THE Lozère only if he could find a bridge or a ford.


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?