Andrew Delbanco

Andrew Delbanco is Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. His most recent book is The Death of Satan: How Americans Have Lost Their Sense of Evil.

Liberated by His Bite

Andrew Delbanco, 19 September 1996

In the early Sixties, when I was ten and first saw Tod Browning’s classic vampire film Dracula (1931) on television, I was impressed that the Count could walk past a mirror and cast no reflection. This optical trick seemed more than just another peculiarity, like his revulsion at sunlight or garlic or crucifixes, marking him as a member of the vampire species. There was a hint of otherworldliness in that blank mirror, a confirmation that he belonged to the ‘un-dead’ (a phrase I later encountered in Bram Stoker’s novel). It was the one thing in the movie that struck me as truly frightening.

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