Romantic Cartographies

Principal investigator
Asko Nivala
Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher
Adjunct Professor of Cultural History
University of Turku


Aubrey's Grand Tour in The Vampyre by John Polidori

The spatial framework of "The Vampyre" is based on the classical Grand Tour from England to Rome.

The story implies a circular narrative from London to the Mediterranean and back.

1. London to Rome via Brussels and other cities

"At Brussels and other towns through which they passed, Aubrey was surprized at the apparent eagerness with which his companion sought for the centres of all fashionable vice; there he entered into all the spirit of the faro table".

Aubrey and Lord Ruthven start the Grand Tour from London. They pass Brussels where Lord Ruthven gambles in the faro table.

2. Arrival to Rome

"They soon arrived at Rome, and Aubrey for a time lost sight of his companion; he left him in daily attendance upon the morning circle of an Italian countess"

3. Aubrey's excursion to Pompeii?

Aubrey "went in search of the memorials of another almost deserted city". According to my interpretation, this could mean that he travels to Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Aubrey appears to make other archaeological trips from Rome.

4. Aubrey travels to Greece

"Having left Rome, Aubrey directed his steps towards Greece, and crossing the Peninsula, soon found himself at Athens."

5. Aubrey makes excursions in Greece

Aubrey makes archaeological field trips with Ianthe on the Greek countryside. Because he travels back from Smyrna, he is probably touring in Ionia, but this is not sure.

"He would tear himself at times from her, and, forming a plan for some antiquarian research, he would depart, determined not to return until his object was attained; but he always found it impossible to fix his attention upon the ruins around him, whilst in his mind he retained an image that seemed alone the rightful possessor of his thoughts. Ianthe was unconscious of his love, and was ever the same frank infantile being he had first known. She always seemed to part from him with reluctance; but it was because she had no longer any one with whom she could visit her favourite haunts, whilst her guardian was occupied in sketching or uncovering some fragment which had yet escaped the destructive hand of time. She had appealed to her parents on the subject of Vampyres, and they both, with several present, affirmed their existence, pale with horror at the very name. Soon after, Aubrey determined to proceed upon one of his excursions, which was to detain him for a few hours; when they heard the name of the place, they all at once begged of him not to return at night, as he must necessarily pass through a wood, where no Greek would ever remain, after the day had closed, upon any consideration. They described it as the resort of the vampyres in their nocturnal orgies, and denounced the most heavy evils as impending upon him who dared to cross their path."

6. Aubrey goes to Smyrna to get a ship

Smyrna (Izmir) is an important port. Aubrey tries to find a ship there for his return.

7a. Aubrey travels to Rome via Otranto and/or Napels

7b. Aubrey travels to Rome via Otranto and/or Napels

8. Aubrey visits briefly Rome

"He left Smyrna, and on his way home, at Rome, his first inquiries were concerning the lady he had attempted to snatch from Lord Ruthven's seductive arts. Her parents were in distress, their fortune ruined, and she had not been heard of since the departure of his lordship."

9. Aubrey returns to England via Calais

"He arrived at Calais; a breeze, which seemed obedient to his will, soon wafted him to the English shores".

(C) 2022 Asko Nivala