On the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series

Are the Fangs Real?

Vampires as Racial Metaphor in the Anita Blake Novels
By Mikhail Lyubansky, Ph.D.

They’re physically powerful and capable of unusual speed. They’re sexually seductive, in a forbidden sort of way, and dangerous–even the well-mannered, law-abiding ones are, at their core, perilous. They may look human, but they’re not. They’re monsters, ever ready to prey and feed on human fears, if not their lives. Vampires? Of course. But vampires have never been just vampires. As vampire literature expert Elizabeth Miller1 points out, “the vampire always embodies the contemporary threat.” Sure, the Anita Blake novels can be read as light, escapist fiction, but intended or not, the vampires within represent a number of marginalized groups that are perceived as a threat by mainstream society, particularly immigrants and racial minorities. This essay brings this racial metaphor to the foreground.

It All Starts with Dracula

It doesn’t, of course,2 but Dracula is the most famous vampire of all. More than 200 films have been made featuring the Count, and the estimate of films that reference Dracula is in the 600s. And that’s just film. The Anita Blake series is part of an entire genre of vampire novels (all undoubtedly influenced by Dracula) that now numbers more than a thousand. Perhaps not quite the way the good Count intended, but Dracula did indeed sire an entire universe.

Stoker’s novel was itself part of a literary movement called “invasion literature,” a genre that included more than 400 books, many bestsellers, in the period from 1871 to 1914. Invasion literature was driven by anxiety about hypothetical invasions by foreigners (H.G. Well’s War of  …

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