Monday, 16 June 2008

More on From Demons to Dracula

I asked the author of From Demons to Dracula, Matthew Beresford, a bit more about his book, and he responds:

I suppose the way I hope my book is different in some ways as others of its kind is because i wrote it from an archaeologist's point of view rather than perhaps a historian's. So, whilst obviously looking at histroical records and sources I also used archaeological findings, for example with Iron Age bog bodies where they had been ritually killed or staked and pinned to the ground. With the early demons and Prehistory, I examined how fascination and fear with death and the afterlife affected the 'vampire' idea and allowed for evil spirits or creatures to return from the dead.

I argue for an 'evolution' for the vampire as whilst many works / books on the subject tend to discuss the beings from folklore and literature they tend to briefly acknowledge the earlier Medieval revenants but not link them too strongly. My belief is that the early demons and spirits (such as Lamia, Lilith and other demon forms) are linked to later forms by the concept of death and burial rites, and that the Iron Age bog bodies, Anglo-Saxon myths and Icelandic Sagas and early revenants (such as those discussed by William of Newburgh in Historia Rerum Anglicarum) bear direct relevance on much later vampire forms.

So, I would argue that there has been a continuous 'evolution' with the vampire, or vampiric beings, from early civilisations up to the modern vampire myth (ie. the caped and fanged aristocratic male, Christopher Lee / Bela Lugosi, etc).

Undoubtedly, I have discussed material that is already available in other books on the subject, but I felt it necessary to comment on this at various points of my own work, but I also hope that I am providing a 'fresh take' on the subject by arguing for the 'evolution'.

2 comments:

Anthony Hogg said...

"My belief is that the early demons and spirits (such as Lamia, Lilith and other demon forms) are linked to later forms by the concept of death and burial rites, and that the Iron Age bog bodies, Anglo-Saxon myths and Icelandic Sagas and early revenants (such as those discussed by William of Newburgh in Historia Rerum Anglicarum) bear direct relevance on much later vampire forms."

This kind of ground relates to the universalisation of the vampire myth. It's covered in a lot of books already.

However, I'd be interested to see how Mr. Beresford establishes a "direct relevance" between these "strains" if you will.

I would argue more in favour of a possible cultural interaction/migratory belief system to gel such "vampire forms" together. So I'll be interested to see how the author cements such a link, himself.

Anthony Hogg said...

"My belief is that the early demons and spirits (such as Lamia, Lilith and other demon forms) are linked to later forms by the concept of death and burial rites, and that the Iron Age bog bodies, Anglo-Saxon myths and Icelandic Sagas and early revenants (such as those discussed by William of Newburgh in Historia Rerum Anglicarum) bear direct relevance on much later vampire forms."

This is an argument similarly used by proponents of the Universal Vampire Myth theory. However, few have actually tried to correlate the myth within a specific cultural setting/interaction.

Devendra P. Varma, in his introduction to the 1970 reprint of Varney the Vampyre, argued that the belief resulted from migratory cultures, thus allowing the "evolution" of the myth to take place.

However, I ask what are the specific threads that allowed the vampire to gel into its first recognisable form (not to mention the actual application of the term "vampire"/"vampir")?

I will be very interested to see how Beresford establishes a "direct relevance" between them, in his book.

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