On this first order of business, yesterday I had the wonderful, very much unforgettable opportunity to interview Anne Rice (and, I do not need to elaborate on her writing credentials; you know who she is). Thanks to both Anne Rice and her wonderful assistant Becket for making this interview a very enjoyable, stress-free experience.
For me, this was a remarkable opportunity, since in many humble respects, I am just a passionate book blogger, who has been mainly writing rather in-depth posts about Anne Rice’s books for nearly four years and counting. It is not the group itself that allowed this opportunity to happen. Incidentally, this interview came mostly about because of the unwavering support of all 700 or so remarkable members of the Lestat Book Coven over at the Facebook Group Page.
I posted the two parts below, and I know there is some continuity issues between the end of Part 1 into Part 2. Due to some inevitable technical glitches, the transition between both parts seems kind of abrupt. Enjoy it, nonetheless, and thanks again to everyone that enthusiastically has joined in our coven discussions, for all the various individuals that produced such thoughtful questions, finally to Anne Rice and her assistant Becket for making this entire thing possible!!
Don’t let the coven start without you!
These discussion posts will be posted on my blog,opening up the discussion to those people that have been unable to partake in our live chats, or maybe have a host of reasons for preferring text-based posts over video posts. I’ll always be posting Facebook post updates about each post either on Anne Rice’s Facebook Fan page, the Lestat Book Coven Facebook Group page, and the mailing list for the Lestat Book Coven (embedded hyperlink will take you to page to sign up for this). Our next live chat will be July 20th, 2014 via Google Hangout on Air, and we will be discussing the first 100 pages of “The Vampire Lestat.”
Reading Assignment Details:
In a sense, I’m being retroactive with this assignment, but we will be discussing the first 100 pages of The Vampire Lestat next week , so our live chat regulars may feel like we are backtracking, but this gives a chance for people that have not partook in any our discussions the chance to start now.
So, the first 100 pages of The Vampire Lestat will be what both our live chat on July 20th, and my second discussion post on July 19, 2014 will be mainly dealing with.
1. In the first 100 pages or so, cite any incidences of foreshadowing about Lestat’s eventual transformation into a vampire. What clear signs in his actions, his thoughts, his ideology seems to display the fact that he’ll have an easier time adapting, psychologically, to the lifestyle of being a vampire?
2. Ponder Lestat and Nicholas’ relationship. Does their relationship prefigure Lestat’s later relationship with Louis? What are your thoughts on Lestat’s antipathy for superstitions like “witch burnings,” and his existential vexations?
3. How does the scene where Lestat hunts down the wolves, mirror later sequences in Anne Rice’s The Wolf Gift,where the supposed civilized member of society, ventures into the “primordial woods,” to freely express their primeval urges? If you’ve read The Wolf Gift, do you think Anne Rice uses that book to address some ethical or philosophical issues raised in the series? This is based on the first one-hundred pages of this text, but it is a question we will be returning to again and again during our reading of The Vampire Lestat.
My own thoughts on the above questions and more:
When you are reading The Vampire Lestat for the fourth time or so, you really start to see the startling signs of Anne Rice’s own meticulous planning with mapping out not just the surface narrative of her vampire’s lives, but their own psychological journeys. Throughout the first one-hundred pages, the very first thing that became clear to me was how much more attentive Lestat is to his own prehistory (prehistory, when seen later from the perspective of a seasoned vampire) as a rather discontented, dissatisfied, deeply insatiable human being. I think that it is his insatiable need to experience something beyond his own immediate milieu and experience a radically different type of social environment, one which would allow him to cultivate his deep-seated passion to fully experience all the unconventional features of the world outside the insularity of his own home. And, it is striking that his home resides in a much more conservative, more far removed area of France, outside the more boisterous, more rampantly intellectual environment of the capital city of France at that time. That is where Lestat wishes to be; a place that consoles him intellectually, rather than defeats and debases his vigorous artistic spirit.
As mentioned by Anne Rice during our Thrillerfest interview yesterday, Lestat is very much more of a theatrical, comical actor. An actor can easily come to terms with their own psychological personality, and is really eager to explore others. And without the social environment that fosters this social exploration; this person can easily fall deeply into crippling, nihilistic despair. We see what happens to Lestat, when he quickly becomes dispirited, after the high, overblown period of elation that accompanies his drunken spells, which he gloriously titles the Golden Moment. It is interesting to note how the way that he goes through different emotional phases during his drinking spells also produces very rapidly changing feelings of affectionate towards his friend (even lover, in a sense) Nicholas. This mirrors his own irregular emotional relationship with his own mother, and it also shapes his own imbalanced perspective of the world around him. When he is very euphoric, he embraces the world around him with a deep feeling of love, in almost the same way someone facing a serious manic phase of bipolar disorder.
In the later books, we will see this same kind of cyclical process of his emotions, as Lestat cycles through phases of emotional catatonia, and periods of very dangerously elevated happiness. But, it is this bipolar personality that makes him both intelligent and sophisticated in thinking to allow him to quickly adapt to the wholly new experience of being a vampire. As evidenced by his own murderous feelings towards his brother and father (a symbolic rejection of the patriarchy’s dictation on gender roles) and his own successful victory over the unruly, bestial nature of himself (represented through the symbolic rite of passage, in defeating the wolves), Lestat can really exist in a very polarized world, because his own psychological state is very much typified by this restive perception of the world around him. So, he embraces the savage garden (the primeval,amoral world of nature) and the civilized world (but a civilized world, marked by the same sense of amorality). Lestat sees both the worlds of nature and the civilized world as being blurred, and this makes him really the best candidate of being a vampire, because a vampire’s psyche is one tempered by contradiction, a vampire has a strong primeval thirst for the blood of human beings, yet this blood also allows a very emotional experience of resonance with one’s victims.
If all this seems a bit unclear, try reading William Blake’s poetry, (a well-known 18th century poet, living during the time of Lestat), where William Blake sought to revive the naturalistic features of the world in his very spiritual (not trademark) religious poetry. Unlike luminaries like St. Augustine that saw our base temptations as being intrinsically sinful, William Blake tried to make those things reconcilable. Ever since William Blake had the divine experience of seeing “angels bespangling the trees,” he saw, long before the Transcendentalists, the unity between the divine and nature. He wanted to show that human passion does not always mean vice, and that some of the greatest vices of humanity, actually coexisted in the supposed civilized, structured world of institutionalized religion. The strife that an artist, like Lestat, feels when confronting the orthodoxy of any structured world makes them view ethics in a much more nuanced way, and a not so clear-cut way. They don’t see the world of nature being perverse or profane, but instead exhume nature from the old orthodoxy where “nature” was always equated with what is considered base and irredeemably evil. Mary Shelley, a well-known nineteenth century writer (and husband to Percy Shelley) would later examine this same issue, as she shows that the thing that corrupts the monster is not nature, but the vice and avarice found within the world of structured human civilization that wishes to demonize and vilify anything that stands in stark opposition to the known world; the simulated world of human structure and social mores.
Both the characters of Gabrielle and Lestat will face this same important psychological battle, as this conflict between civilization and nature is a very pivotal feature of Anne Rice’s books. Then again, it really is just one strand of the various thematic vines that inhabit the wild, sub-textual jungle of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat. Along with Queen of the Damned, it is a very rich, very complex novel, below the deceptively lucid, controlled environment of the narrative itself.
Do you have any thoughts on the above discussion, or the discussion questions posted right above this? Leave your comments below in the comment area! We’ll be discussing these question and more during our regularly scheduled live chat on July 20th, 2014. You may RSVP for this event at the Google Hangout-on-Air page for this event!
Other Important News:
The Vampire Lestat Contest-Resurrection of the musical’s “Fall from Grace,”-Creating the “Prince Lestat,” Musical!
Back in 2005 and 2006, Elton John and a team of very talented writers and musicians, created the ill-fated, underrated Lestat musical. Unfortunately, fans that were unable to attend have to rely on some illegal means to either get MP3 recordings of the songs, or to even watch amateurishly filmed videos of performances on Youtube.
To not only celebrated Lestat’s fated return in the form of a new Vampire Chronicles volume,we are going to have an extremely fun contest, which anyone can enter in three different ways.
Example of a track from the Lestat musical. Other tracks are available on Youtube. Just do a general search of “Lestat musical”
*Write a new song for a Prince Lestat musical, expressing the themes of the character of Lestat and the other vampires, which you feel could hypothetically prove important in Anne Rice’s upcoming book. Essentially, if Elton John sent you an email, asking you to help him write a song for a new Lestat musical (not that he has the time and energy, or you have the clout to be recieving this sort of mail), you must write a song then reflecting one of the many themes brought up in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, which may prove important in Prince Lestat. You may record yourself singing the song, or even creating instrutmentals for the song, which I will happily share with Anne Rice! But, I will stipulate that this will not help you win the contest.
To be fair to everyone entering this contest, I will be picking someone at random, without the use of Rafflecopter, but I can assure you that it will be completely random, and my subjectivity will not bear any weight on the selection of the winner. I don’t want to dissuade people from entering, daunted by the idea that the “only the best” will win.
Rather, I want your written or recorded entries to be for fun. And, I want to put them all together in both video and text form (create a fake binder script) for Anne Rice, to express our fervent love and admiration for bringing her imaginative world into the public sphere, and letting us all share in our huge showering of gratitude and other effusive words for Anne Rice’s willingness to give us a cathartic world that has taught us to find meaning, substance, and verve in a world that not just Lestat, but others, can become jaded and crushingly disenchanted by the limits of our reality.
So, the prize will consist of:
*a signed, first-edition hardcover of The Vampire Lestat
Due to the creative nature of this contest, you will have till August 15, 2014 to finish your entries and have them submitted. This contest is open to all people, all over the world, and you are only allowed one entry. Nonetheless, you are free to write as many hypothetical tracks for the hypothetical Prince Lestat musical, but one entry will only be counted to be fair to those with certain time constraints in their lives. It is only fair to give people, with crazy schedules, a chance to win this contest.
So, please send all entries to narniafanatic(at)gmail(dot)com!!
All those subscribed to my newsletter (via email) for the coven will always be told instantly where and when the Coven Live chats are first! So, if you haven’t signed up yet, fill out the form on the Lestat Book Coven Meeting Room Page
*By clicking the photo below of the Prince Lestat cover, you’ll find details on the Barnes and Nobles online website about pre-ordering your own own copy of this much-anticipated novel!*