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Clarimonde by Theophile Gautier
May contain some spoilers

Clarimonde (La Morte Amoureuse, or Loving lady death, 1836) by Theophile Gautier is actually a novella but I read it in book form. It is fascinating story about mad, no-right-no-wrong passion between Romuald, a young priest and the story´s narrator, and Clarimonde, a supernaturally beautiful courtesan and vampire. Gautier´s imagery and writing are gorgeous and never seedy, despite Clarimonde´s prostitution and references to her "impure", orgy-filled life, and in her sumptuous Romantic elegance, Clarimonde is more interesting than most modern vampires. Actually, despite Catholic voices of two priests, Romuald and his mentor, hard-as-stone Sérapion, I was not surprised to find out that Gautier was an atheist and hedonist who believed in beauty for beauty´s sake. 10/10.
Romanticdress, I'm curious about which translation you read (or if you read it in the original). My favorite translation is the Lafcadio Hearn from the early 1900s, which is very romantic and presents Clarimonde as a feminine ideal. I love this story, and like you I find it fascinating that it reverses the usual values of good and evil. It's so different from the vampire works that followed it (and many that preceded it).

ETA: whoops, my mistake, the Hearn translation is pre-1900.
I too read Hearn translation. I agree, it is gorgeous and romantic! Great to know I am not only one loving the story.
Oh, it's been one of my favorite vampire stories for ages! I think it's so filmic--it would make such a lush and gorgeous movie. That nighttime carriage ride, with the horses' hooves striking sparks and the "round astonished face" of the moon rolling along the horizon... My doctoral dissertation was on 19th-century vampire literature, and I wrote about the celestial way Clarimonde is portrayed, as if she is an angel and Serapion, the priest, is almost demonic. It's such an intriguing reversal from the usual way female vampires were portrayed in that century.
How wonderful!
I too think it would make GORGEOUS movie. There is an half-an-hour 1998 adaptation, written by Gerald Wexler to Canadian TV series Hunger. It has effective score, extremely effective Clarimonde with short dark hair instead of long and blonde (similar than Romuald´s, perhaps consciously?) and some effective set design - Clarimonde has a bedroom of gorgeous roses. It does not reach Gautier´s sumptuousness - colors are muted, Clarimonde´s clothing very simple - and there´s some simulated sex and topless nudity, which didn´t bother me. However, Clarimonde was changed (spoilers!)

a sex vampire, a succubus in prey, not a blood vampire in love.


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I actually just recently saw the "Hunger" half-hour adaptation. Smile I think it suffered from a low budget, and I found some of the changes to the story (like the main one you mention) surprising. I felt that it lacked the romance and delight in the Romulad-Clarimonde relationship, but I can understand how the adapters may have needed to shorten and simplify the story to fit it into the short running time. And I was intrigued by the idea that


the succubus approached each new priest and served as a kind of rite of passage. So I felt it was a fairly loose adaptation in some ways, but it was certainly interesting.
I too felt it interesting but not totally succesful. Smile

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