Book:Carpe Jugulum/Annotations

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Corgi PB (British) p. 90: Agnes Nitt and Nanny Ogg are attempting to sabotage the vampires by handing out vol-au-vents contaminated with excessive amounts of garlic. Vlad de Magpyr quite happily eats one, then announces "Any more of those garlic things? They're rather piquant!"

This echoes the opening of Anne Rice's gothic novel Interview with the Vampire, where the callow student interviewer attempts to test the truth of folk legends by offering the vampire Louis Lestadt a clove of garlic. Louis takes a bite, then expresses approval of the piquancy of the flavour. The interviewer then goes on to test religious symbols on Louis, who thoughtfully examines a crucifix, turning it over in his hands and remarking on the kitsch nature of the art involved - just as the de Magpyrs have been desensitised to religious symbols by repeated deliberate exposure. In fact, on page 239, the Count de Magpyr, confronted with the holy symbol of Omnianism, takes the pendant in his hands and remarks "And this is the holy turtle of Om, which I believe should make me cringe back in fear. My, my, not even a very good replica. Cheaply made".

Compare also the scene in The Lost Boys, where a suspected vampire is repulsed by a meal containing ounces of garlic on the not-unreasonable grounds that it tastes of nothing BUT garlic.

Corgi PB (British) p226: Vlad's disgust at the "holy water" having spoilt his dandy silk waistcoat. Given other scenes in the book - the dandy clothes of the younger vampires, their take on role-playing games where, for instance, Lacci assumes the persona of a dowdy human shop assistant called Pam, and the way their parents look anxiously at all this. This is an echo of Mr Charles Pooter, in "Diary of a Nobody", who frets at his son Lupin Pooter joining the rebellious Victorian youth who expressed their disenchantment with their elders by wearing unfeasibly over-gaudy cravats and paisley-patterned waistcoats. (The feather of a peacock is a Mandelbrot set in its own right: Vlad is described as wearing a peacock-feather styled waistcoat.). This was held to be so shocking that employers threatened to sack any junior who dared turn up for work dressed like that - without a reference - and Victorian society in the 1880's collectively fretted at the outrageous dress sense of its young people. (Much as they did in the 1920's, 1950's, 1960's and practically every decade since...) At the time, Punch and Times editorials deplored the trend, and George MacDonald Fraser also describes the phenomenon in one of the Flashman books.

Corgi PB (British) p227: "Everyone knows that cutting off a vampire's head is internationally acceptable". Vlad asserts that decapitating a vampire is, on its own, a surefire way of slaying a vampire regardless of its geographical or ethnic origin. This certainly suffices for the Count de Magpyr at the end of the book. Yet, in The Truth, we have the contradiction that Otto Chriek is decapitated by Mr Pin. Otto's head and body remain separately alive and sentient, and Otto is able to calmly issue directions to place his head where his body can reach it so that he can re-attach it. This he does, by an effort of will and his own vampiric physiognomy. He then remarks, after saying it "stings a bit", that decapitation alone is not sufficient - it requires a stake through the heart, as well. The Count de Magpyr does not seem to know this trick. Perhaps for the de Magpyrs, decapitation alone is sufficient, and Vlad is erroneously arguing from his family back to all vampires?

Corgi PB (British) pp270 - 273; 280-285

In fact, that discussion between the Vampyres and the witches, in which the Magpyr famiy set out their new and exciting plans for Lancre now they are in charge - well, if that wasn't an Interview with the Vampyr, (The Vampyr being Count de Magpyr), then....

Also, a vol-au-vent is classic buffet food. Stuffing one with garlic in the hope that it will dispatch a bloodsucking undead entity... what else is this but an example of Buffet, the Vampire Slayer?

Expanding slightly on this theme, during the fighting in the town of Escrow, Agnes Nitt is thrust into doing all the physical stuff that Buffy habitually does, in her predestined task as Vampire-Slayer and She Who Seals The Hellmouth. The physical contrast between the lean and toned cheerleader-cum-vampire's nemesis Buffy, and Agnes Nitt, who... isn't... (but who still manages to punch the lights out of Lacrimosa in a fight straight out of a typical episode of Buffy) adds a certain humour to the proceedings. Perdita's gymnastic exertions, cartwheels and handstands on the wobbly bridge over a possible gorge in the gnarly ground are also a Buffy trademark.

Again the themes of Anne Rice's Vampire series of novels are given a Discworld slant.

Vlad de Magpyr assures Agnes Nitt that We don't usually go as far as that any more. (...) And when we do...well, we make sure we only kill people who deserve to die (p271)

This echoes the theme of later Rice novels, in which her vampires decide that they represent a more evolved and therefore morally enlightened version of the human race, and have a responsibility, of sorts, towards ordinary humans. Rather than kill at random, many of the "ethical vampires" adopt the point of view that they should select criminals, child molesters, rapists, wife-beaters, thugs, et c, in order to minimise the fall-out caused when the vampire has to feed. After all, who's going to grieve for a paedophile or a violent street mugger who meets with sudden death? , Selecting victims from the criminal element might even improve the general stock of the human race (from which, of course, new vampires arise from time to time). But Agnes puts her finger on the flaw in the reasoning straight away:-

oh, that's all right then, isn't it? I'm sure I'd trust a vampire's judgement!

Lilith de Tempscire uses a similar justification for capital punishment in Witches Abroad. Again, the flaw in the reasoning is that Lilith alone is the judge and jury of what merits a death sentence.

Incidentally, with overtones of the Überwald League of Temperance leaking into the Anne Rice vampire continuum, some vampires actually attempt to find a way of living that doesn't involve killing humans for food (as her vampires quite like people and have many human friends). Some ingenious ways are devised to get blood without cruelty, but to find out more, see Rice...

The idea of vampires as a higher stage in the evolution of humanity is also explored by Whitley Streiber in his Vampire novels; here, a "vampires' parliament" gets together at ten year intervals to discuss and set territories which are to be "farmed" to individual vampires or collectives, who are to selectively breed their "livestock" for the good (and enhanced diet) of all vampires. As with the de Magpyrs, there is no feeling or regard for the humans involved - they are just livestock.

It is also worth noting that the whole extended sequence between Vlad and Agnes, as he seeks to convince her to embrace vampirism (and him) of her own free will, has uncanny echoes with the Blue Öyster Cult song I love The Night. (in which a vampire falls in love with a human and seeks to persuade him to join her in living the nocturnal lifestyle).

Corgi PB (British) p. 230: "clustersuck"... The practice of more than one vampyre feeding from a prey species at the same time. An, er, indelicate reference. Change a consonant and it's a slang term for all-in group sex. Used in its original context by Shea and Wilson in "Illuminatus". Described as "an unholy sacrament" in Oats' seminar notes, indicative of the Church's generally negative view of sexuality? Also a nod at Victorian repression, where the sexual aspects of Stoker's "Dracula" had to be sublimated into lovingly intense descriptions of the blood-taking practice... it was OK in the late 1800's (as any English Lit undergrad will excitedly tell you, when they do the Gothic Literature term, and think they're the first ones to discover this) to write about gory and messy death at the hands of an Undead in as much detail as you liked, but just let the sex get explicit... Clustersuck, yes: any other form of clustering from nearer the top of the alphabet, most definitely not.

Corgi PB (British) p. 279: Magrat Garlick and Nanny Ogg are escaping into Überwald with Princess Esmerelda. Magrat is being gloomy about their prospects for survival, as they are entering ever more deeply into vampire country. The dialogue, in the hijacked vampires' coach, runs:

And it could be worse said Nanny.


Well...there could be snakes in here with us

Not the film Snakes on a Plane, for which Terry would have needed a time-machine were he to be referencing it (it came out eight years after the book) (See Discussion)

But rather to the urban legend dating to way before 1988, which in its turn inspired Terry Pratchett and the makers of the film SOAP.

After extensive research - why should Nanny have explicitly referred to snakes? - the answer was found to lie in the urban legend about a snake, or snakes, somehow stowing away on board a car, or lorry, or truck, or even a train, which then starts biting and inflicting escalating damage and terror. One website dealing with urban legends says the potency of this one lies in its combining several fears at once: being trapped, being in the presence of deadly snakes, and being in a car crash. Indeed, the way a routine or sometimes a long-awaited journey is subverted by visceral horror (being trapped in a car with a snake) gives this urban myth most of its force and power. (Narrative Causality again...)

Sybil Ramkin invokes the same "rural myth" on page 376 of The Fifth Elephant.

Corgi PB (British) p253:- King Verence II is being rescued by the Nac Mac Feegle of the Long Lake Clan. After they have dispatched the two mercenary guards in his room, the Feegle in charge of the raiding party stands on Verence's chin and demands to know if he's the person they're here to rescue. Verence, made soporific by the Vampires, replies, without fear: "Well done. How long have you been a hallucination? Jolly good." This scene calls to mind the classic Henry Fuseli picture The Nightmare[1], in which a dreadful goblin-like creature squats on the chest of a paralysed sleeper, who is nevertheless awake enough to register every awful detail. This also echoes the traditional view of British royal "meet and greets" in which the Royal personage will supposedly ask someone "So what do you do?" and will then follow the answer with "Jolly Good! And how long have you been a goatherd/cheese-maker/brothel-keeper/whatever....". This is beautifully sent up in Time Bandits in which John Cleese's Robin Hood performs much the same dialogue with the Bandits themselves.

Corgi PB (British) p282:- the Count praises Agnes Nitt's sarcastic suggestion that the villagers of Escrow who over time give most blood to the vampyrs should receive some sort of medal. He acclaims this as a very good idea and worth pursuing. The British Blood Donor Service used to give medals to the regulars who over time donated gallons and gallons of blood for perfectly good medical reasons... it looks as though the blood donors of Escrow were to be similarly rewarded.

Corgi PB (British) p341:- During the fighting in Escrow, a vampire called Fenrir, or perhaps Maladicta, makes his (or her) appearance. Hmm...

Corgi PB (British) p362:-

You'd only have got tired of her in the end and we'd have ended up with her always getting in the way, just like all the others (Lacrimosa to Vlad about Agnes).

This evokes the film The Hunger, in which immortal vampire Catherine Deneuve may create vampires in her own right and keep a particularly special lover close to her, unchanged and ever-young, for two hundred or so years. But while her bite confers immortality, after two hundred years the bitee degenerates into eternal old age, decrepitude and senility - but does not die! Her newest love, Susan Sarandon, discovers this awful truth on opening the attic door where she locks her undead previous amours away (including a withered and senile David Bowie) lest they get in the way...

Possibly also a reference to Dracula, in which the Count had accumulated three female companions in his castle. While he objects to their accusation that he never loves, arguing that they know otherwise from personal experience, he nevertheless leaves them behind in Transylvania to go chase girls in England. Likewise, the Count doesn't lift a finger to prevent Lucy's staking, suggesting that he'd lost interest in her company in record time.

Corgi PB (British) p. 442: the resident Igor at Don'tgonearthe Castle is hauling on the chain to raise the lightning conductor that will provide the power to revive his (temporarily} dead dog, Scraps.

This evokes the 1960's novelty song by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kicker Five (also covered in the UK by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band), Monster Mash.[2]

The brain surgeons were all digging the sound/Of Igor, on chains, backed by his baying hound...

General comment: Vampires are traditionally from Transylvania. This is a region of modern day Romania, which was formerly in Hungary, and still has some of Hungarian speakers. The Hungarian language is Magyar, and by extension Hungarians are known as Magyars. Not Magpyrs, but close.

And of course, the concept of a powerful vampire thinking outside the box, or perhaps the casket, is covered in Kim Newman's series of books beginning with Anno Dracula, the tale of what might have happened if Dracula had defeated van Helsing's band of plucky dreamers and had himself invited to a formal ball at Buckingham Palace. Which is his invitation to stay on and take over Britain by marrying the widowed Queen Victoria, thus making himself the most powerful "man" on Earth. And all because the Queen expressed an invitation to a noble relative from the Balkans to come and stay...