Vampires say the funniest things! A quiz of quotations from famous bloodsuckers
Like those of the creature itself, the origins of the word vampire are somewhat mysterious. The word comes to English from the Hungarian, perhaps having its roots in a Turkish word for a witch. It was introduced into English around the early 1700s in fascinating accounts of European legends. A little later in the same century, the more direct bloodsucker, previously used to refer to animals such as leeches, appears as a term for the newly-imported creature of the night.
The history of undead is less clear, but it was certainly in use by the 1890s, when an Irish writer by the name of Bram Stoker (who died on 20 April 101 years ago) used The Un-dead as a working title for his latest novel. Although a sickly child, Stoker would go on to become a talented athlete who graduated from college with a master’s degree in pure mathematics. As an adult, he wrote numerous novels, was a drama critic for the British newspaper the Daily Mail, and worked as business manager for the Victorian superstar actor Henry Irving. But of course there is a figure who looms darkly over all these accomplishments, and has defined Stoker’s legacy: the figure of the vampire, Count Dracula.
Stoker’s vampire novel began life as a tale about a Celtic shape-shifter, but as he researched he learned about the historical figure Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, also known as Vlad Dracula (“son of the Dragon”), and as Vlad the Impaler, after his alleged habit of impaling the corpses of his enemies and lining them up on poles around his cities to deter would-be invaders. From this source and from European folk tales, Stoker’s Count Dracula was born.
The novel was well-regarded, but it was not until the film versions of the 1920s and 30s (beginning with the unauthorized adaptation Nosferatu in 1922) that it began to gain the popularity that it enjoys today. In fact, it’s probably true to say that most people are more familiar with one of the many cinematic or television adaptations of the tale of Dracula than they are with Stoker’s original novel, which is not necessarily an easy read. Modern vampire novels have a tendency towards the trashy, as far as I can tell; they have more in common with airport lounge pulp novels than with great art. Stoker’s Dracula, in contrast, is a beautifully-written, intricately-structured piece of work which deserves its place amongst the classics of British literature.
Nevertheless, the popularity of Dracula helped to establish a fascination with vampires, from the brutal, bloated fiend of the original novel, to the sophisticated, sexy creatures of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the sensitive, romantic souls of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga. However you like your vampires, there’s likely to be something out there for you. A British childhood in the 1980s was incomplete without Count Duckula, the vegetarian vampire duck. The comic fantasy tradition has given us Terry Pratchett’s vampires, with fabulous names like Salacia Delorisista Amanita Trigestrata Zeldana Malifee von Humpeding, while the Marvel comic universe has the semi-vampiric Blade, a very modern vampire hunter, played on screen by Wesley Snipes. Our quiz today draws on these sources, and more, for some choice vampiric quotations. Can you work out which bloodsucking fiend of the night said what?
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