Date of Defense
Dr. Kent Baldner
Dr. John Cooley
Over the last century, perhaps no genre of literature has so enthralled, interested, and provoked the public's intellect as those pieces which fall under the somewhat ambiguous appellation, "existentialist" literature. Novels by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus spawned generations of followers, including Ernest Hemingway, Richard Wright, and Franz Kafka. Today, Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, and especially the first book Interview With the Vampire, exemplify the characteristics of an existential novel. No doubt much of the reason for the popularity of the existential novel has to do with empathy, we see ourselves reflected in the characters. In order to learn anything from them, however, we must understand the sorts of issues that are being dealt with. The way to do this is by examining existential philosophy, the writings of those who dealt with questions of existence and human life. The work of Jean-Paul Sartre is an excellent model for analyzing Interview With the Vampire, and using it as such helps to explain the actions and motivations of the main character Louis. Louis is transformed into a vampire and is faced with the same problems as modern man, neither have any knowledge of their true nature or how they should act. Studying Louis' existential predicament can help us to better face our own, and by showing that immortality and power lead to despair and detachment, Rice tells us to take advantage of our limited lifetimes and live them to the fullest.
Klamer, Aaron J., "The Pain of an Amputated Limb: Subjective Morality and Existentialism in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire" (1998). Honors Theses. Paper 821.