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Autumnal Faces

Old Age in British and Irish Dramatic Narratives

Edited By Katarzyna Bronk

Autumnal Faces is a timely study within the ever-growing research on the ways older people and ageing itself have been conceptualized and represented in the popular imagination and, more specifically, in drama and on stage. Tracing this theme from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century, this volume offers original, innovative and diachronic analyses of plays and performances that focus on or are peopled with older characters. The contributors study the roots of positive and negative stereotypes pertaining to senescence and the elderly, offering meticulous interpretations of dramatic narratives and performances on topics such as gendered ageing, geronticide, the «sins» of senex amans and iratus, ageing and uncontrolled passions versus ageing and prudence, longevity and immortality, memory and life narratives, the elderly as storytellers and repositories of wisdom in British and Irish culture, Alzheimer’s disease and the loss of self, and intergenerational conflicts. Ultimately, this collection of essays answers the ongoing call for more studies devoted to humanistic/cultural gerontology, seeing old age not just as an issue affecting past generations but one that is increasingly important as we all age into an unknown future.

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7 The Great Deceiver: Vampires, Old Age and the Nineteenth-Century Stage (Simon Bacon)


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7    The Great Deceiver: Vampires, Old Age and the Nineteenth-Century Stage


Lord Ruthven, the vampire created by John Polidori in The Vampyre (1819), lived beyond the novel and featured in many plays during the early and middle parts of the nineteenth century. The popularity of the novel quickly saw theatrical adaptations of the story, with Nodier, Carmouche and Jouffrey’s Le Vampire (1820), Planché’s The Vampire; or, The Bride of the Isles (1820), Marschner’s Der Vampyr (1827), Dumas’ Le Vampire (1851) and Boucicault’s The Vampire, A Phantasm in Three Dramas (1851 and 1861), all featuring a Rutwen/Ruthven/Ruthwen character. Few critics discuss these plays in terms of age studies or mention the idea of consumption of youth by the old to remain young within these works. The present chapter will examine the elements from each play that might support such a reading and the ways in which the figure of the vampire is used as a metaphor for old age.

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