On her website, novelist Anne Rice offers a lengthy and fascinating and important defense of her “earlier” (pre-Christian conversion) works within the context of her Christian faith. She writes in part:
Let me begin by saying that I see my earlier novels as part of a long tradition of “dark fiction” which includes some of the most highly prized religious works read in Western culture. Dante’s Inferno is a dark work in which Hell is described in considerable detail. Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth are both “dark works” in which ghosts play a key role. Macbeth involves three witches as well as a ghost, and the best lines in the play are spoken by the nihilistic villain, Macbeth himself. These plays are so highly prized by our culture that in my time Macbeth was taught in high school classes. One could not graduate from high school in those days without knowing about the ghost of Hamlet’s father, or about the mad obsessive cries of the guilt ridden Lady Macbeth…
…My point here is that “dark stories” have been part of our literature for a very long time, and that they are viewed as highly valuable by educated people throughout the West.
…I would like to submit that my vampire novels and other novels I’ve written, such as the Mayfair family trilogy, and the novels, Servant of the Bones, Violin, Cry to Heaven and Feast of all Saints are attempting to be transformative stories as well. All these novels involve a strong moral compass. Evil is never glorified in these books; on the contrary, the continuing battle against evil is the subject of the work. The search for the good is the subject of the work.
Interview with the Vampire, the novel that brought me to public attention, is about the near despair of an alienated being who searches the world for some hope that his existence can have meaning. His vampire nature is clearly a metaphor for human consciousness or moral awareness. The major theme of the novel is the misery of this character because he cannot find redemption and does not have the strength to end the evil of which he knows himself to be a part. This book reflects for me a protest against the post World War II nihilism to which I was exposed in college from 1960 through 1972. It is an expression of grief for a lost religious heritage that seemed at that time beyond recovery.
…Much could be said, and has been said, about all of my works. I would like to say that the one thing which unites them is the theme of the moral and spiritual quest. A second theme, key to most of them, is the quest of the outcast for a context of meaning, whether that outcast is an 18th century castrato opera singer, or a young boy of mixed blood coming of age in ante-bellum New Orleans, or a person forced into a monstrous predatory existence like the young vampire, Lestat. For me, these themes are inherently significant and noble themes. They are worthy of exploration; they are evocative; they can and do reflect the deepest questions that humans face.
Yet, somehow, my earlier novels have been dismissed out of hand — by people who haven’t read them — as “immoral works.” They are not immoral works. They are not Satanic works. They are not demonic works. These are uninformed and unfair characterizations of these books, and this situation causes me deep personal pain….”
Please read the full essay and I encourage you to do that by visiting her site. [Note – to get to it scroll down past her statement about being pro-life and pro-Hillary Clinton.]
This is where I have to offer my own apologies to Ms. Rice for not understanding her previous works. As a Christian I saw the titles and the descriptions and naturally assumed they were a glorification of the demonic. It never occurred to me that they were deeply complex moral and spiritual tales about the human and spiritual condition. It isn’t that I actively opposed them, only that they were filed away in a tiny portion of my brain as immoral.
That was easy and comfortable but it wasn’t right. It is part of a tendency some of us Jesus-followers have to avoid the deepest, darkest complexities of the human condition. It is so much easier to stay among the “saved” and cast stones from on high, for fear that we will become dirtied by the world. But that is so very opposed to the way of Jesus. Jesus delighted in getting himself “dirty” in the world and considered the dirty to be among his closest friends. The evangelical problem with this sort of fortress mentality is that it belies devotion to a very, very weak Jesus; a Jesus very unlike the one who lived and who still lives and encourages those who follow him not to be afraid of this world and its complexities because he is so much greater.