Study Guide

Interview with the Vampire Setting

By Anne Rice

Setting

New Orleans, Paris, and Eastern Europe, 1791 to present

New Orleans: Let the Good Times Roll

Louis's story begins in New Orleans, and it ends in New Orleans. In fact, "there is no city in America like New Orleans" (1.172). It's like Cajun spice brought to life. It's a mix of French and Spanish and "people of color" (1.172), with their rich island heritage. Listening to Louis describe the city, you can almost taste the beignets.

Anne Rice goes into lots of lush description about the city, probably because it's her favorite city, too. Because of that, Interview sometimes reads like a love letter to the city itself. "Dear New Orleans, I'm glad I'm a vampire so I can love you forever. Xoxo, Louis."

Initially believing it to be "a magical and magnificent place to live" (1.173), Louis remarks that New Orleans has changed when he returns. Has it really changed, or is it just Louis who has changed?

Eastern Europe: Revenant Wings

Eastern Europe is supposed to represent a new beginning for Louis and Claudia, who have bumped off Lestat and gained (they think) their freedom, but we can tell early on that this trip is not going to end well.

It all starts when Louis looks at the waters of Mediterranean and says: "I wanted those waters to blue. And they were not. [...] The Mediterranean was black" (30.1). Forgetting the fact that it's always night for Louis (vampires being deathly allergic to sunlight, remember?), this is highly symbolic. We're not sure what he was expecting—watermelon and feta salad as far as the eye can see?—but he sees only darkness.

Darkness is what he and Claudia get when they find themselves in a place that resembles the set of an archaic horror movie Elvira or Mel Brooks might have spoofed. The primitive village—they might even say "willage"—Louis and Claudia find themselves in lives in fear of primitive vampires. And the people here use primitive means to kill them: stakes, garlic, beheadings. By contrasting the modernity of New Orleans and Paris with the backwoods of Eastern Europe, Anne Rice shines a bright (non-UV) light on her vampires, who are entirely new creations. Modern. Broody. Fashionable.

Paris: Tossed by Waves, But Does Not Sink

Paris, the mother of New Orleans, is a place of great change for Louis. He tells his interviewer that "what Paris means to me now is very different from what it meant then" (3.2). The then he speaks of is when he and Claudia first fled to Paris, believing it to be a source of knowledge. It's also a source of romance for Louis, who finds a lover in Armand.

The now is the after: after losing Claudia and after realizing that the information he seeks cannot be found. He tells his interviewer, "In Europe I'd found not truths to lessen loneliness, transform despair. Rather, I'd found only the inner workings of my own small soul, the pain of Claudia's, and a passion for a vampire who was perhaps more evil than Lestat, for whom I became as evil as Lestat" (3.379). Paris is the place where Louis loses his humanity.

Now, if Paris is the "mother" of New Orleans, does this mean that New Orleans will eventually turn out like Paris did, complete with its own Théâtre des Vampires? Or will New Orleans be a rebellious child, a symbol of something fresh and new?