The monster of folklore and literature seems to have evolved over the years into a dark romantic hero. Why is this? Maybe it has to do with the evolution of how we think about disease and death. Syphilis may have been a major influence on Bram Stoker's Dracula. At that time and prior, this blood sickness was feared and those with it were sometimes considered insane. There are several descriptions in the book about Dracula's appearance that are similar to descriptions of people with syphilis. Many of the early books and poems take a similar view of vampires. Fast forward to Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire which she wrote after losing her young daughter to leukemia. Now we have a totally new point of view. We feel sympathy for Louis and are fascinated by the charismatic Lestat. In The Vampire Lestat we learn that Lestat was turned against his will making us feel even more for him and his desire to be open with his condition. Rice's wildly popular vampires seemed to turn the tides for the vampire at a time when we were being told that people with blood diseases such as HIV should not be feared but helped and accepted. Although some literary and movie vampires are still of the more traditional variety the most popular are written as sympathetic, beautiful, mysterious, romantic heroes. I don't think this is coincidence that our understanding of illness has coincided a bit with our opinion of the vampire and how they are written in popular literature.
May we recommend:
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer