'Reel' is the name given to both a type of dance and the music which accompanies it. It is written in either 2/2 or 4/4 time. The dances are common in the Scottish and Irish traditions, as well as folk songs throughout the British Isles. Popular reels include 'Pigeon on the Gate', 'Bucks of Oranmore' and 'Bonnie Kate'.
'Snow White'. Indeed, at the beginning of the Grimm version of the tale, it is a Queen who states, "I wish I had a daughter with skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony"; for this woman, her desire for the girl is purely maternal. The child is born, but her mother dies, and some years later, a jealous stepmother orders her huntsman to take the young woman into the woods and murder her. An older version of the story did not involve a stepmother; it was Snow White's own mother who was jealous of her beauty, and the fact that her father adored her. Carter would certainly have been familiar with this, but in her telling, the 'father's' desire is so much darker.
'Snow White', 'Hansel and Gretel' and 'Cinderella' are good examples. There are various theories behind the existence of the character. In the past, a significant number of women died in childbirth, making it highly likely that another woman would raise the child. It has been suggested that a stepmother may resent the constant reminder of her predecessor - whom her husband would otherwise still be married to - and deliberately favours her own children more. She is also shown to be jealous of the youth and beauty of a stepdaughter who is blossoming into womanhood, no doubt reminding her father of the way her natural mother once looked.
Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations'. Abandoned by her lover on the morning of their wedding, she never again leaves the house, nor takes off her wedding dress. Over several decades, her house falls into decay, and her skin grows deathly pale through lack of sunlight. The parallel to the vampire-girl in 'The Lady of the House of Love' seems profound.
Tarot cards first emerged in Europe in the mid 15th Century. For a long time they were simply used for playing games; it was not until the late 18th Century that they became associated with divination and the occult. Like a conventional pack of cards, the Tarot has for suits, collectively known as the Minor Arcana: Cups, Coins, Wands and Swords. These include the four court cards of King, Queen, Knight and Page, as well as ten numbered cards. There are also 22 cards known as the Major Arcana, which are not numbered but represent a journey taken by the first card, The Fool. The subsequent cards include Justice, The Wheel of Fortune, The Devil and Judgement. In their modern usage, each card holds particular symbolic meaning; drawing a spread of cards, in a particular sequence or arrangement, is said to reveal hidden truths to the person reading them. Possibly the most popular deck of Tarot cards is the Rider-Waite, but there are many different variations, and browsing through a selection is an interesting exercise.
For more in depth information, this Tarot website is a great resource. They use a considerable variety of decks and explain in great detail the meaning behind each card. You can also have a free online reading, if you're curious.
'Death and the Maiden' is a theme which has been represented in art, music and literature for a long time. It is thought to have its roots in the ancient Greek myth of Persephone; she was a beautiful young woman who was abducted and taken to the Underworld by Hades, the god of Death. It is used to explore connections between death and sexuality, as the maiden's youth and beauty suggest life in its purest and most unsullied form. Franz Schubert composed a String Quartet called 'Death and the Maiden' in 1824, when facing his own mortality after becoming seriously ill. He had visited the theme before, having been inspired by a poem by Matthias Claudias. It has also been the title of well known paintings by Hans Baldung Grien, Edvard Munch and Puvis de Chavannes, and a play by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman.
In Ancient Chinese culture, having long fingernails was a sign of wealth and status, as it gave a clear indication that the person did not have to engage in manual labour. Some Chinese men today will still let a nail on one of their 'pinky' fingers grow longer than the others, though this is now simply considered a symbol of good luck.
Generally considered one of history's nastier pieces of work, Prince Vlad III of Wallachia (1431-1476) did much to earn his macabre nickname. The ruler of what is now Romania, he despised the Ottoman Empire for its attempts to invade his country, and for the cruel treatment he had received from them when imprisoned as a young man. He deliberately provoked war with them in 1459 by killing some envoys they had sent to him, and it was from this point that his capacity for cruelty reached its zenith. He killed tens of thousands of people, many of them through his favoured method of impaling. He also executed most of the boyar class of Wallachians, who had been responsible for the deaths of his father and brother; the remainder of his subjects were equally prone to the most atrocious punishments if they broke his laws. Invading Ottomans often saw 'forests' of rotting corpses impaled on spikes as they approached a large town or city, which was a deliberate method of psychological warfare. Vlad Tepes was famously depicted on a woodcut dining in front of such a scene.
In present day Romania, he is viewed as something of a national hero for his fierce defence of the country, but most of the world now associates him with 'Dracula', the most famous of vampires. From the 17th Century, reports of vampirism began spreading throughout Europe, many of them from Romania. Bram Stoker would have been aware of this, and it is thought that the cruel figure of Vlad the Impaler proved a natural source of inspiration. In the book, he is not explicitly linked to the character of Dracula, but many adaptations have connected the two; perhaps the most famous example is Francis Ford Coppola's 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' (1992). This romantic version also involved the story of Vlad Tepes' first wife, who really did commit suicide.
The Romanian Orthodox Church evolved from the Eastern Orthodox tradition of Christianity. It is based around Catholicism, and is one of the most visually ornate religions in the world. The architecture of the churches is imposing, with elaborate interiors, and makes great use of iconography. Services are almost entirely sung, and incense is used an an offering to God. The priests' vestments all have symbolic meaning and differ according to rank; traditionally, they did not cut their hair or shave their beards, though this has changed somewhat over the past century.
'Nosferatu' is another word for vampire. It is often believed to be Romanian, but in reality there is little evidence for this. Bram Stoker used it in 'Dracula', and said later that he had discovered the term through the travel writings of Emily Gerard, who had visited Transylvania. Various theories have been put forward for the etymological meaning of the word, but they are tenuous at best. In any case, the word became best known as the title of the 1922 film 'Nosferatu', which was essentially an adaptation of Stoker's novel; key details had to be altered, as the book was still in copyright. A masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema, it still stands as one of the most chilling films ever made, in no small part because of Max Schreck's extraordinary performance as the Count.
These are three cards of the Major Arcana, in the Tarot. 'La Papesse' means 'The High Priestess', and is the second card in the sequence (note that they begin at zero, with 'The Fool). Its general meaning is wisdom, intuition and serenity, and suggests a positive feminine persona - either that of the Querent or somebody in their life. 'La Mort' means 'Death', but does not traditionally correspond to the death of a person. Instead, it represents a forced change of some kind, the end of a cycle, or an important transition. It is the thirteenth card. 'La Tour Abolie', meaning 'The Tower', is the sixteenth card. It stands for destruction, chaos or a major revelation. As well as their individual meanings, the way the cards fall in a spread collectively provide the answer the Querent is seeking. The vampire lady in the story always draws these three cards; the High Priestess could be said to represent herself, as despite the fact that she must kill to ensure her survival, she has the wisdom to know that it is wrong. Death and The Tower also seem to show this sad circumstance, but could also herald her ultimate fate.
Vienna is the capital city of Austria. During the Middle Ages, it was also capital of the Holy Roman Empire, which began its association with culture, science and prosperity. At the time of the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th Century, it became capital of the Austrian Empire, thereby demonstrating its continual position as a city of importance. It has always been a major world centre for Classical music; Johann Brahms (1833-1897) spent most of his career in Vienna, and the courageous Richard Strauss (1864-1949) also lived and worked there at times. At the time our story is set - the cusp of World War One - Vienna was enjoying its status as a centre of culture and modernism; along with its artistic prestige, it also became the place where the practice of psychoanalysis gained a foothold, largely through the poineering work of Austrian Sigmund Freud. In 1938, Austria became part of the Third Reich after Hitler marched into Vienna and declared them annexed; it is worth noting that there was considerable Austrian support for this at the time. The city received serious damage from the Allies during World War Two, but is now considered one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in the world. In 2005 it was elected the best place to live (joint with Vancouver) for quality of life; it is also the site of the United Nations headquarters.
The Trenches of World War One are synonymous with the ugliness and futility of war. Dug into the earth of Belgium and northeastern France, they represented the front lines of battle. Troops were protected to an extent from artillery fire, but poison gas and snipers could still prove lethal even before men had run the gauntlet of going 'over the top'. The sense of stalemate was pervasive; with both sides in the same situation, there was little to be gained in comparison with the loss of life and unsanitary conditions in which the men were forced to exist. Death from disease was an even greater threat than weaponry, with outbreaks of typhus, cholera and dysentary all too common. The fungal infections of 'trench foot' and 'trench mouth' were also rampant, and soldiers' bodies crawled constantly with lice. Many injuries were caused by shelling, which typically included shrapnel wounds; in the days before antibiotics, gangrene and septicaemia were almost inevitable. Some of the worst conditions, in every sense, were at Ypres, the Somme and Passchendaele.
Some of the greatest poetry of World War One was written by men who had served in the trenches; many of them composed verse whilst they were actually there.
So just what it is about vampires? The concept of a malevolent creature sucking the life force from its victims has existed for thousands of years, but our current cultural obssession would not have happened were it not for the mass vampirism hysteria in Europe during the 18th Century. Particular folkloric beliefs came to a peak, and reports of deaths caused by vampires were numerous and widespread. This was most concentrated in the rural areas of Eastern Europe; offical records demonstrate how seriously these cases were taken. People would regularly dig up graves of suspected vampires to drive stakes through the heart of the corpse, and respected scholars wrote books discussing whether there may be truth in the superstitions. The panic died down after Maria Theresa of Austria ordered her own investigation, which concluded that the panic had no grounding in fact. By now, though, it seems enough had been done for the "timeless Gothic eternity of the vampires" to have been born. With the Industrial Age following hot on the heels of the Age of Enlightenment, the European folklore being left behind became popular fodder for the Gothic literature of the 19th Century. The birth of cinema came at a time when vampires were still very much in the public consciousness, and Dracula has since been portrayed on screen more than any other character. Hammer Horror, Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, The Twilight Saga, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries...it seems the public's desire for vampires is as insatiable as theirs may be for us. It is perhaps this that explains their constant popularity; as well as fear, there is an attraction towards them. The link between sex and death has always been a major cultural theme, and what better embodiment is there than a creature who roams the night wanting to feed on you in such an intimate way?
The Carpathian mountain range stretches across Central and Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Ukraine and Serbia. The greater portion - over half - is in Romania. The total length of the range is 1500km, and though it generally follows an arc shape, this is not constant. In terms of altitude, none of the peaks come close to those in the Alps, as only a few reach over 2500m. Glaciers and constant snow cover are absent, meaning that there is a considerable amount of forest cover; consequently, the range provides the largest European habitat for bears and wolves. The most famous road in Romania, the Transfăgărăşan, crosses through the mountains from Transylvania and Muntenia, and offers spectacular views. The remains of Vlad the Impaler's Poenari Fortress can be visited, and at Retezat, there is a National Park with eight lakes. As with much of Eastern Europe, tourism has increased over recent years, which is wonderful. The Carpathians do offer a fascinating prospect; we are all familiar with the famous folklore, yet there is also the fresh air and breathtaking scenery.
Voltaire was the pen name of François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), a prolific French writer. He was a passionate advocate for the ideals of the Enlightenment, expressing his views in novels, plays and poetry as well as pamphlets and essays. As a young man, he was thrown into the Bastille without receiving a trial, but secured exile to Great Britain as an alternative to imprisonment. He was greatly influenced by his time abroad, especially in witnessing the workings of a constitutional monarchy, and was impressed by the works of Shakespeare and Sir Isaac Newton. Throughout his life, he argued for civil liberties, the rights of the citizen and freedom of religion. As a polemicist, he often had to move to different cities both at home and abroad to escape punishment, as there were strict laws at the time regarding what could be published or otherwise said publicly. He was viewed as being a profound influence on the French Revolution which was soon to come; it was the National Assembly who had his remains moved to the Panthéon in Paris as a mark of respect. His achievements in the art of historiography forever changed the way we write about the past, and through his criticism of religion, he gave us the phrase, "If God did not exist, we would have to invent him". The French, quite rightly, revere him as a champion of justice, civil rights and equality.
'The Lovers'; it is the sixth card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot. It generally represents love, relationships and sexuality, and is applied to the Querent's current relationship or desire for one. Aside from this, it can also stand for choices or values, or indicate a dilemma where two paths may be open but only one can be followed. The other cards drawn in the spread will shed further light on the matter; for example, drawing one of the Court cards of the Minor Arcana may indicate the kind of romantic prospect the Querent is thinking about.
This refers to Act 5, Scene 3 of Shakepeare's 'Romeo and Juliet', which takes place in the Capulet family's tomb. Juliet has faked death and lies sleeping, ready to stir and be reunited with the exiled Romeo; unfortunately, he has not received word of this plan, and truly believes her to be dead. He takes poison by her side, and dies. Upon waking moments later, Juliet sees what has happened and stabs herself with Romeo's dagger, not willing to live without him. Romeo and Juliet both needlessly die because of the enmity of their warring families. In a similar sense, the girl in 'Lady of the House of Love' is unable to escape her fate, which has also been brought about by accident of kin. The depiction of the scene below, from Baz Luhrmann's 1996 'Romeo + Juliet' has been modernised and edited, but the director's passion for opera lends itself to a grandiose moment of tragedy.
Whilst Romania was seeking and gaining independence during the 19th Century, it looked to France as a model of Enlightenment values and revolutionary zeal. Romanian and French are both daughter languages of Latin, and France's rich, modern, intellectual culture appealed greatly to a country determined to make itself free and strong. It used to be said that "ce qui n'est pas clair, n'est pas Français" - what is not clear, is not French - and it seems Romania concurred; French not only became adopted by the aristocracy, but entered the everyday parlance of ordinary people. It is estimated that 39% of the Romanian language is now borrowed from French. It is still a very popular second language to learn and is widely spoken. Romania is also a member of Francophonie.
Tuberculosis used to be known as Consumption, due to the way the illness 'consumes' its victims. The pervasive nature of the disease, and the melancholic, slow demise of the sufferer, led to a romanticism of it during the 19th Century. It was thought to be a cause of almost a third of all deaths in Paris during this time; such high figures demonstrate how the culture surrounding the illness could naturally come about. Some people believed that the suffering involved gave the patient a brief but potent capacity for creativity, and that it made women more beautiful. It is also worth noting here that in the frightened, superstitious days before medical knowledge, many people mistook tuberculosis as evidence for vampirism. This is, in a way, understandable, as the symptoms include weightloss, deathly pale skin, a hacking, bloody cough and a low body temperature. The effects on sinuses can create watery, light sensitive eyes, and the constant exhaustion appeared to be proof that the person in question had been out all night getting up to no good. The fact that the disease is highly contagious, but very slow to progress into severity, was thought to show that one member of a family or group was 'feeding' on the others, gradually draining them of life.
Columbine is a stock character from the Italian Commedia dell'arte. She is Pierrot's wife but the lover of Harlequin, and works as a serving maid. Her mistress typically needs her help in winning the heart of gentlemen, which technically casts Columbine in the role of soubrette. She is witty, saucy and flirtacious - Harlequin and Pierrot are not her only interests - but she is by far the most intelligent character in the group. Her name means 'little dove', which indicates her coquettish nature, as she is certainly not delicate; her costume was appropiate to that of a maid, and often a little tatty, but embellishment still allowed her to express her personality.
Napoleon as the authority who best attempted to establish some semblance of structure around the 'world's oldest profession'. By 1804, all prostitutes had to be registered, and received health checks twice a week - though this was as much for the clients' sake as for theirs. Brothels came under control of the State, and had to be run by women, but conditions varied and many prostitutes endured long working hours. Whilst some brothels were extremely down at heel, others were the height of luxury; one example was 'Le Chabanais', which opened near the Louvre in 1878. Lavishly decorated due to enormous contributions from private investors, it offered rooms in different detailed and distinct styles. Its 'Japanese' room even won a design award at the 1900 World's Fair in Paris. Patrons of the brothel included Toulouse-Lautrec and Guy de Maupassant; later, King Edward VII, Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart were all visitors too. Establishments such as these and 'Le Sphinx' were able to offer clients whichever 'scenarios' they desired - such as the one described here in the story - until brothels were outlawed in 1946.
'Dies Irae' means 'Day of Wrath' in Latin. As a piece of music, it was part of the Requiem Mass used in the Catholic church, and other forms of Christianity which use Catholicism as a base. It was originally written in the 13th Century, by Thomas of Celano. Although generally not used now in the Requiem, it is still sung in a hymn and used in other missals. In its original form, the musical setting follows the Gregorian tradition; it has, however, also been set to music by composers such as Mozart and Verdi.
'Hysteria' was once the name for an illness that was thought to be peculiar to women. Fainting, anxiety, strong emotion and insomnia were all thought to be indications that the lady in question was suffering from the complaint. The condition was considered real for a long time; the Ancient Greeks believed that a woman's uterus could become detached and move around her body, thus making her ill. From the Renaissance, a connection with sex was made, and until the 20th Century it was believed that the cure was 'pelvic massage' (use your imagination). Certain devices were invented to aid in this treatment, eventually entering the home appliance market. The advertisements for these products are amusing to look back on, as everything but their true purpose was emblazoned in proud copy; 'Vibration is Life' being a particular gem. Ladies might be pleased to know that these items were being sold to housewives around a decade before the electric iron and the vacuum cleaner.
Interest in hysteria was a prime concern when the practice of psychoanalysis was emerging; one of Sigmund Freud's books was called 'Studies on Hysteria'. Switzerland was the place where much of this early research and investigation was carried out, and consequently a number of clinics were established there, including the Rheinau-Zurich. The famous Swiss psychiatrist Paul Eugen Bleuler was Director there at one time.
As an illness, hysteria has been fully discredited for decades now. Earlier in this story, Carter describes the revenants of the town "torment[ing] pubescent girls with fainting fits, disorders of the blood, diseases of the imagination" which is extremely clever. These girls are not irrational; in the world of the story, we know there must be very real supernatural forces acting upon them.
Photophobia is a medical condition involving extreme sensitivity to light, whether artifical or from the sun. The assumption made by the young man that the lady is suffering from it demonstrates how he is a product of modern Europe; during the 18th Century vampire hysteria it had been believed that aversion to light was evidence of vampirism. Photophobia generally presents itself as a symptom of an underlying condition. If there is injury or infection in some part of the eye, its ability to process light is much weakened and causes photoreceptors in the retina to put strain on the optic nerve. Problems such as cataracts, corneal abrasions and conjunctivitis can all cause this, as can temporary illnesses such as influenza, or migranes. It can be part of a group of problems if a serious illness is being fought, or may simply be a sign of extreme tiredness. Treatment therefore depends on various factors, but sufferers are normally advised to rest in a dark room, or wear sunglasses.
Bucharest is the capital city of Romania. Once a residence of Vlad the Impaler, it was destroyed by the Ottomans and suffered various natural disasters before being restored in the 18th Century. This continued despite futher setbacks such as a fire in 1847 which burned down around a third of the city. Its status improved when Wallachia and Moldovia united in 1861 to form the single country of Romania; at this point, Bucharest was made the capital city. The admiration of French culture greatly influenced the architectural development earning it the nickname 'Little Paris'; there is even an 'Arcul de Triumf', a very close version of the French original. Over time, the style of building in the city became very eclectic, and these days has many remnants of the 20th Century Communist era, as well as contemporary design. The city is built on the banks of the Dâmbovița River, and boasts a number of lakes and large parks. Culturally, there are a good number of museums and art galleries, as well as an Opera House, several orchestras and theatres.