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'The Vampyre' and Other Writings

John William Polidori

Edited by Franklin Bishop

Cover Picture of John William Polidori: 'The Vampyre' and Other Writings
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Categories: 19th Century
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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(Pub. Sep 2014)
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(Pub. Aug 2005)
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  • June 18. Began my ghost story after tea. Twelve o' clock, really began to talk ghostly. [Lord Byron] repeated some verses of Coleridge's Christabel, of the witch's breast; when silence ensued, and Shelley, suddenly shrieking and putting his hands to his head, ran out of the room with a candle.
    from the Diary of Dr John William Polidori, 1816

    So Polidori (1795-1821) records one of the most famous storytelling evenings in English literature, the stormy night at the Villa Diodati that was the source of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and his own tale The Vampyre, as well as his Gothic novel Ernestus Berchtold.

    John Polidori (1795-1821) is a fascinating but always shadowy figure of Romanticism, an impetuous, sensitive writer of fierce talent. His encounter with Byron, Shelley and their circle has contributed both to his fame and notoriety on the one hand, and to his neglect on the other: he is too often known only at second-hand through the recollections of his famous friends.
    That encounter with Byron, Shelley et al was the inspiration for his most celebrated work, the influential and still compelling tale of The Vampyre (1819). With this story, Polidori created a figure of seductive evil who continues to exert a powerful hold over literature and popular culture. The Vampyre alone would confirm Polidori's importance within the Gothic tradition. This collection also makes available many of the Polidori's lesser-known works, showing him to be a resourceful, sensitive writer whose literary career was cut short by his early death. Polidori's medical thesis on the subject of nightmares, his essay 'Upon the Source of Positive Pleasure' and his Gothic novel The Modern Oedipus (both included in full), his poetry, diaries and letters, illuminate the context in which The Vampyre was written and deepen our understanding of Romanticism and the Gothic. Many of these works have rarely, if ever, been republished since the nineteenth century.
    Table of Contents

    Introduction vii

    Further Reading xx

    The Vampyre:A Tale 1

    from A Medical Inaugural Dissertation which deals with the disease called Oneirodynia,for the degree of

    Medical Doctor,Edinburgh 1815 23

    from On the Punishment of Death 31

    from An Essay Upon the Source of Positive Pleasure 37

    Ernestus Berchtold;or,The Modern Oedipus.A Tale 47

    from Ximenes,The Wreath and Other Poems 151

    from The Fall of the Angels:A Sacred Poem 159

    from The Diary of Dr John William Polidori 163

    from Letters of John Polidori 235

    Appendix:Four Letters about Polidori 247

    John William Polidori
    JOHN WILLIAM POLIDORI was born in 1795 into a distinguished Anglo-Italian family. He was educated at Ampleforth College and the University of Edinburgh, where in 1815 he was awarded a degree of doctor of medicine, at the age of nineteen. In 1816 Polidori entered Lord Byron's service as his personal physician, ... read more
    Franklin Bishop
    Franklin Bishop is the author of Polidori! A Life of Dr. John Polidori (1991), Selected Works of John Polidori (1991), and numerous articles on Gothic and Romantic literary figures. A freelance journalist and writer, he is also a tutor for the University of Nottingham, Continuing Education Department. ... read more
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