Sunday, 30 November 2008


Cannibalism isn't exactly a topic that I find particularly relevant to this blog, but it has been touched upon slightly, and there will no doubt be a few out there who might be interested to see these posts, Cannibalism: Terminology and A note on Androphagoi, from a blog on Antiquity. Both are related to a paper in progress on the subject of cannibalism.

Accompanying this post is a photo of a 1975 book on that topic which contains chapters on 'The Red Elixir' and 'Werewolves and Vampires'. I think it was among the first dozen or so books I found when I was beginning to look for books on vampires as a teenager. The author, Reay Tannahill, writes:

'Closely associated with the idea of the werewolf in Europe was that of the vampire, one of the most lurid horror comics ever dreamed up by man and yet, oddly enough, one of the least harmful. Though the forces of church and state burned vampires, decapitated them, tore them limb from limb, or transfixed them with stakes through the heart, the vampire was in most cases dead already and knew nothing about it. There were none of those appalling holocausts that purged the countryside of living 'witches' and 'werewolves', schismatics and other sinners in the sight of the Lord. Nevertheless, the psychological effects of the vampire myth were unpleasant enough at a time when the human mind was under constant assault.' (p. 120-1)

The origins of Van Helsing

My last post made me look up what is said about the origins of Stoker's character Abraham Van Helsing in Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula.

Abraham was the name of both Stoker himself and his father, as Bram is but a diminutive of that name, hence it has been suggested that Van Helsing should be 'an idealized self-portrait', but Stoker actually claimed that he was 'based on a real character', a 'highly respected scientist, who ... will also be too famous all over the educated world for his real name ... to be hidden from people'. Two possible candidates are Stoker's brother William Thornley and Max Müller, a German professor at Oxford.

The origin of the name Helsing is apparently unknown. Theories suggest that it may have been inspired by the fictional Dr. Hesselius of Le Fanu's In a Glass Darkly, the anthology that contained the influential vampire novella Carmilla, or by an alchemist called Van Helmont mentioned in one of Stoker's other sources.

Obviously, the personal characteristics of Van Helsing differ a lot from Gerard van Swieten. Whereas van Swieten was an enlightened man of science trying to end superstitious practices, Van Helsing talks of occult forces and believes in all sorts of posthumous magic.

For some reason, some years ago Van Helsing became sort of a superhero vampire hunter in a dreadful movie that was certainly full of sound and fury but had nothing to say or contribute to the genre.

Fictional and mythological characters can turn up in various guises in surprising places. While writing this post, I saw Santa Claus walking by on the other side of the street from my house :-)

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Van Swieten and Van Helsing

I just looked at the German Wikipedia entry on Gerard van Swieten, and someone has added this sentence:

'Van Swieten war eine Vorlage für Bram Stokers Romanfigur des Vampirjägers „Van Helsing“ in seinem berühmten Roman „Dracula“.' (Van Swieten was a model for Bram Stoker's fictional character of the vampire hunter Van Helsing in his famous novel Dracula).

The source is probably the Vampire Princess documentary, but as stated before, there is hardly any evidence that Bram Stoker had ever come across the name of Gerard van Swieten!

Hortus Medicus

I am not botanically inclined, but botanical gardens can be pleasant to visit. In Vienna I had even more reason to go to the Botanical Garden of the Vienna University, as it was Gerard van Swieten who as Direktor of the Medical Faculty suggested to Empress Maria Theresa to found a 'Hortus Medicus', a medical garden. This was in 1754, i.e. the year before both the Empress and van Swieten became involved in the matter of Magia Posthuma and vampirism.

To be honest, I wasn't impressed with the Botanische Garten, but that is probably because of my lack of personal interest in botanics, and because I had spent hours at the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum and at the Upper and Lower Belvedere before I went to visit it.

Actually, I had more pleasure from visiting the Botanischer Garten in Halle earlier this year. I don't know if it has any particular connection with some of the learned men related to the 18th century 'secret capital of vampire theory'. This garden predates the one in Vienna, as it was founded in 1698. It contains several greenhouses that are open to the public, whereas most of the greenhouses in Vienna are only open to researchers. It's a very pleasant and relatively quiet place, at least when I visited it this summer.

The first two photos above are from Vienna, whereas the photos just above and below are from Halle.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Magic Cube

This is a cubic presentation of links found on the internet when searching for magia posthuma on search-cube.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Paranormal Romance

The other day I was contacted by a journalist who wanted to ask me about paranormal romances. It seems that a friend of mine had referred him to me claiming that I would be an expert, but I honestly felt quite uncertain about the subject, because I rarely read vampire novels (I think, the last two I have read were Rikke Schubart's Danish novel Bid and Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian). Of course, I have noticed that so many vampire romances are published, but I haven't really taken the trouble to look at them more closely, although I recall at one time considering doing a blog post on the subject.

So now I have spent a little time looking at web sites on the subject of paranormal romances, and I did e.g. notice this blog that records the thoughts of an English Major at a college who is studying romances, and particularly Vampire Romance Novels.

It seems that these novels are sort of the logical next step in the evolution of the fictional vampire from a revenant and fiend to an ally, friend, and lover. An evolution that has been apparent in its earlier stages in e.g. Dracula movies from the frightening creature of Nosferatu to the 1979 Dracula where the emancipated woman prefers Frank Langella's Count to her mortal boyfriend, and so forth.

Instead of waiting for the good doctor to notice her or for the knight in shining armour to take her away, the modern female of these novels seems to yearn for a vampire or some other paranormal creature. Well, at least that's what I gather from the blurb on some of these novels that are apparently pretty explicit in their romantic (and erotic) content.

It is actually pretty fascinating that vampires, werewolves, demons and other supernatural - and 'evil' creatures - so explicitly have become the romantic subjects and objects of these novels. The fascination with these creatures have of course been implicit in earlier fiction, but with time the readers seem to have given up being 'saved' from these nightmares, and rather seem to indulge in them, or at least in what on the face appears to be a nightmare.

I am reminded of the enthusiastic dedication in the copy of the abovementioned Bid presented to me by the author: 'More vampire! More blood! More sex and lust and death!'

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Gender and magia posthuma?!

According to this web site, an analysis of the text on this blog reveals that it is probably (74%) written by a man!

I have no idea what that analysis consists of, but there is one easy way to find out: Go to my blogger profile and see for yourself.

Anyway, I think the topic of vampires and magia posthuma itself will probably appeal to both men and women, so I don't think the topic of this blog should give away the blogger's gender.

From Demons to Dracula

One of the problems with a lot of literature on vampires is the frequently diffuse definitions of a vampire. In From Demons to Dracula, Matthew Beresford uses the term in various ways, and says at the end of his book:

‘There is no typical vampire. Perhaps a ‘true’ vampire would be an amalgamation of all the forms we have seen worldwide as well as reflecting attributes of all the historical examples. In essence, the vampire reflects an ever-changing being that bears relevance to the culture it exits in. The modern vampire is a being born of demons, burned as a heretic and reviled as a fiend; the Devil’s own creation. What the future may hold for him is uncertain, yet it is undeniable that the image immortalized by Dracula, encapsulating over six thousand years of history, can never be undone.’ (p. 200-1)

So without really defining a vampire, Beresford traces various concepts and beliefs that have at some time (i.e. more or less within the last 300 years, because very few knew the East European vampire before that time) been linked with vampires - from burial sites in prehistory to the Goth scene of the 21st century. He doesn’t attempt to provide an all encompassing history of vampires, but looks at a number of cases to describe and analyze ‘the creation of the modern vampire myth’ to quote the book’s subtitle.

Unfortunately, he often relies on some less than reliable sources: Dudley Wright, Montague Summers, and - believe it or not - even Sean Manchester, and frequently he just refers to them without any critical discussion. This also goes for the porphyria theory, notions on ‘psychic vampirism’ based on LaVey’s Satanic Bible, and various other speculations that, ahem, seem less than convincing.

This becomes a particular problem when he describes the Medvedja vampire case and mixes the fictional version with the original documents, although he seems to have had Hamberger’s collection of source texts at hand. Furthermore, his description of the 17th-18th century vampire cases and debate is very short, whereas he spends a lot of space on speculations on e.g. Judas Escariot in a discussion of the Church’s role in connection with revenant belief that seems ahistorical.

So from the point of view of someone who is interested in putting the vampire cases, the magia posthuma and revenant beliefs and customs into a historical context, From Demons to Dracula is quite problematic. On the other hand, read as an introductory analysis of the modern concept of ‘vampire’, the book does present some interesting thoughts and ideas, and it is easily read. I particularly enjoyed reading the chapter on the so-called ‘Historical Dracula’, because it digs deeper than the usual rehash of Florescu and McNally.

It’s just a shame that he didn’t do more of the same with regards to the early modern vampire cases. Also, I had hoped that as an archaeologist he might have considered some of the skeletons found in e.g. the Czech republic that may have been treated in ways to prevent the dead from returning.

The appendix contains excerpts from William of Newburgh's Historia Rerum Anglicarum.


From Demons to Dracula finally arrived, so I'll take a closer look at it and let you know what I think within a couple of days.

Addendum: Amazon has a 'Look inside' sample from the book.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

It all began with a lesbian love?!

Another of the books mentioned recently, Das Vampirbuch by Ditte and Giovanni Bandini, has now been published, and a PDF excerpt is available. Judging by this insight into the contents, it looks like an entertaining primer in vampires from Dracula to the Goth scene. Bloodstained pages and chapters titled 'It all began with a lesbian love' and 'Are vampires happy?' signify a less than serious approach, so I doubt that the book will appeal to those with a more serious or advanced interest in the subject of vampires and magia posthuma.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Dracula Unbound

I recently referred to a new book: Dracula Unbound. Kulturwissenschaftliche Lektüren des Vampirs edited by Christian Begemann, Britta Herrmann and Harald Neumeyer (Rombach Buchverlag). It has now been published, and the cover can be seen below.

I'm not quite sure of the contents, but I have quoted the publisher's description below. Perhaps it contains some of the papers from a 2006 meeting in Bayreuth?

'Der Vampirismus gehört zu den wenigen genuinen Mythen, die die Moderne hervorgebracht hat. Vampirgeschichten sind keineswegs nur Produkte einer anspruchslosen Unterhaltungsindustrie, sondern Schauplatz komplexer kultureller Verhandlungen zwischen den Künsten, der Medizin, Psychologie, Theologie und Philosophie, sozialen und politischen Diskursen. Als Ausdruck eines ›wilden Denkens‹ geben sie daher in vielerlei Hinsicht Aufschluß über das Selbstverständnis der Moderne, ihre Problemstellungen, Faszinationspotentiale und Ängste.

Christian Begemann, Professor für Neuere deutsche Literaturwissenschaft an der Universität München. Veröffentlichungen u.a. zum Verhältnis von Aufklärung, Furcht und Angst, zu Adalbert Stifter, zur Metaphorik der Zeugung und Geburt von Kunst sowie zum Realismus und zur deutschen Literatur des 18. bis 20. Jahrhunderts.

Britta Herrmann, wissenschaftliche Assistentin im Fach Neuere deutsche Literaturwissenschaft an der Universität Bayreuth. Veröffentlichungen zum Verhältnis von ›Familienroman‹, Geschlecht und Erzählmodellen im 20. Jahrhundert, zur Geschichte der Männlichkeit, zu Ilse Aichinger, zur Moderne um 1800. Weitere Forschungsschwerpunkte u.a.: Wechselbeziehung zwischen Wissenschaften, Technik und Literatur, Literaturtheorie und Kulturwissenschaft(en), gender studies.

Harald Neumeyer, Akademischer Rat im Fach Neuere deutsche Literaturwissenschaft an der Universität Bayreuth. Veröffentlichungen u.a. zur Gestalt des Flaneurs, zum Verhältnis von Kunst und Wissenschaft um 1800 und zum Selbstmord in Literatur und Wissenschaft zwischen Aufklärung und Romantik, zu Literatur- als Kulturwissenschaft, zur Geschichte der Beziehung von Literatur und Psychoanalyse und zur Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts.'

Unfortunately, the price is pretty steep: €68!

Ranft the biographer

Those who have studied the bibliography of Michael Ranft will have noticed how many biographical works he published. It is quite a curious experience to browse through his books, because he must have spent an incredible amount of time compiling biographical information. Above is one of the earlier examples, a collection of biographies - or necrologues - of deceased dukes of Saxony, including the life of Christiane Eberhardine, queen of Poland (1671-1727). The original includes print in colour, but unfortunately I only have a black and white scan.

This book was published in the same year as Ranft's second edition of his De masticatione mortuorum, 1728, when he was just 27 years old. Note that he is only credited as 'M. M. R.'!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Middle Ages

In the above photo this blogger as a very young man is handed a copy of the late Dan Turèll's book about vampires Alverdens vampyrer (All the world's vampires) by the author himself. Turell (1946-93) was a popular Danish author of essays, crime novels and more who happened to be fascinated by vampires. In a characteristic oratorical manner he talked on this and other subjects, at times dressed in the miniature Dracula cape that he is also seen wearing in the photo. I remember attending a couple of his talks on vampires, but I only chatted and corresponded with him on the subject a couple of times.

Unfortunately, his book on vampires - the first full length book written in Danish on the subject - is far from satisfactory. It is clearly written in his entertaining style, but that is no excuse for not caring about important details. My favourite example is his indiscriminate use of the term 'the Middle Ages', in particular when it is applied to the 18th century!

No doubt, the book has been studied by numerous people interested in the subject, and by pupils writing essays on vampires at school, so it's unfortunate that the book propagates the view that the Middle Ages extended until around 1800!

This year, incidentally, it is 30 years since the first edition of Alverdens vampyrer was published. The photo is not that old, it's from 1983. A second edition was published in 1993.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Homo defunctus

I have just read an article about Latin becoming a popular language for students in countries like e.g. Germany. I myself enjoyed reading the language when I was much younger and could find time for that pastime, and my rudimentary knowledge of Latin has proved helpful for my interest in magia posthuma. The above text is an example. A definition of vampires as a 'homo defunctus' returning from its sepulchre after death and sucking the blood of humans as well as animals.

The author also tells us that the origin of the word 'vampire' is not certain, and that opinions differ on the matter. Unfortunately, this is more or less still the case.

The text is from the Dissertatio de hominibus post mortem sanguisugis, vulgo sic dictis Vampyren by Christopher Pohl (Leipzig, 1732).

For some examples of Latin in earlier posts see Non dantur Vampyri, Joh. Frid. Glaser's tale of horror, Obsolescit nempe vivus omnis inter mortuos, A.D. 1344 according to Neplach and The shepherd from Blov.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Evil Dead

I recently mentioned poltergeists as one manifestation of revenants. Here is a description of the 'evil dead' from a paper on Possession phenomena, possession-systems. Some East-Central European examples by Éva Pócs published in Communicating with the Spirits edited by Gábor Klaniczay and Éva Pócs (Central European University Press, Budapest, 2005):

'When we talk about the aggression of the dead against humans naturally we are talking about the "evil" dead: the main form of this aggression is that the dead occupy a part of the human world and bring it under their evil influence. In Medieval Europe folk mythologies were still familiar with the dual nature of the dead: good and evil dead protecting (functioning as guardian spirits) and attacking humans, their own family and community. (---) The appearance of "evil dead" or of hostile ghosts as poltergeists, the abduction of the living during the time of the dead to earthly quasi-other-worlds are phenomena present in a rich cultural variety in contemporary Europe too. Possessing evil house-spirits may be for example the domovoi and kikimora known from modern Russian folk beliefs, and the Romanian moroi (we have similar data on the German goblin): these may appear as noisy ghosts, throwing about things or breaking objects, while the hordes of moroi may appear as havoc causing animals or as fighting cats. In general, however, the category of evil dead is a much broader one than that of the attacking house-spirit/ghost: since the Middle Ages all over Europe in the belief systems of most European peoples, the evil dead are repenting souls who have no status (are not baptized) or could not enter the other world or the purgatory. Such beings are the Hungarian gonoszak, rosszak (evil ones), the Eastern Hungarian and Romanian tisztátalanok (impure ones). According to belief legends, they visit the living especially between Christmas and Epiphany. Besides suspicious noises, clinking, other manifestatioins of the deathly condition replacing the earthly one can be observed when they appear: the force of gravitation is defied, furniture rises, objects fly, head-scarves unfold. Furthermore the spirits cause the illness and death of humans and animals, bother new mothers and steal newborn babies. They can appear as dead but in the form of living people (who bodily possess humans) as well as in animal shape.' (p. 94-5; I have omitted references)

Éva Pócs is Professor at the University of Pécs in Hungary specialising in folk religion, magic, verbal charms, witchcraft, European mythologies and shamanism.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Nicolaus and Nicolas

Nicolaus Equiamicus has been a bit quiet lately, but it's probably because he's been working on another one of his books. He's just announced that next year a new edition of Nicolas Rémy's famous Daemonolatria is published by Ubooks. The above links are in German, but here is the English Wikipedia entry on Remy.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

On the trail

Although I have had time to start reading Hagen Schaub's book on the history of vampires, I doubt that I will find time to finish it and write about it for a number of days. Suffice it to say, that it definitely explores some of the avenues that are along the lines of this blog and my own interest in 'living corpses'.

It's curious that a book that needs be must debunk the notion of 'vampire fangs' itself is being sold by showing those teeth on the cover :-)

Saturday, 8 November 2008


I have in my possession an old Danish comic book on ghosts, which is actually a translation of an original comic book from Classics International that published the well-known Illustrated Classics series. Published in 1961, which is a couple of years before I was born, I must have purchased it in some second hand book shop as a child (as a child I spent a lot of my pocket money on second hand books and comics) and for some reason I have kept it ever since.

The title translates as 'Superstition and Ghosts', and it was, of course, issue number 13 in a series on 'The world in text and pictures'. It contains a number of relatively archetypical examples of stories of ghosts and premonition, like e.g. the story of a man giving a girl a ride only to find that she was the ghost of a girl who was killed in a car accident and is buried in the cemetery where he saw her waiting for a bus.

Another example is poltergeist phenomena, which is also reported in some cases of magia posthuma. Like premonition, it is a subject that was of particular interest to those involved in parapsychology, a subject that was in vogue when the comic book was published, and a lot of the contents are concerned with 'telepathy', 'telechinesis' etc.

It's quite curious to be reminded of how popular 'paranormal research' was back then, as no one seems to care about it today. Well, I suppose it should be obvious that it was a dead end like the 'theories' of Von Däniken and others that were also widely studied when I was a child and a young man. I'm sure there are internet groups that cherish these theories and collect 'Forteana', but I'm not going to look for them. Even the subject of vampirism has its cultists, and I don't care to spend any time on them.

But it is very interesting to study how the conception of revenants and related 'supernatural' phenomena have changed over the years, e.g. from the quite corporeal revenants of earlier times to the rather incorporeal 'grey ladies' and onto the pseudo-scientific concepts of parapsychology. Unfortunately, very few books attempt to describe this evolution and explain it in terms of how our world view has changed over e.g. the past milennium.

The old comic book on ghosts isn't very well drawn, and maybe it's just because I read it as a child, but I think it does say something essential about the subject in a way that makes you say: 'What if?'

Click on the two pages from the comic book to see them in a larger format.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Criminalia and Curiosa

The German publisher Festa Verlag has published a number of volumes of curious and horrific tales and events. One of them, Kirchschlagers Criminal- und Curiositäten-Cabinett 2, contains a few pages on Peter Plogojowitz. An excerpt from the book is available.


In my recent list of new books on vampires, I mentioned Hagen Schaub's Blutspuren: Die Geschichte der Vampire. Auf den Spuren eines Mythos (Leykam Verlag, 272 pages). Today I found time to go to the post office to pick up the copy I had ordered of this book. Never quite knowing what to expect of this kind of book, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that it actually is a book more or less along the lines of my own interest in magia posthuma and vampires. I hope to have more time to look at it sometime this weekend, but I can inform you that Hagen Schaub has studied history, German literary history and geography, and is the co-author of a book on mummies in Austria. But more on the book, when I have had time for a closer look!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Vampire art

Although purely a matter of art, I suppose that some of you might - also in light of recent ponderings of what to do with a lot of money - be interested in this blog post concerning the recent sale of one of Munch's vampire paintings.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

What a day for a daydream...

Actually, the question asked by Abebooks - before answering it in bibliophiliac fashion - was:

'We're all counting our pennies pretty carefully right now. In these economically uncertain times, it's tempting to daydream. What if you had unlimited funds? A swimming pool filled with champagne? Pillows stuffed with genuine dodo down? What if you won the lottery, or an eccentric, distant and obscenely wealthy relative left you everything?'

And, apart from trying to save children from famine and supporting various struggling artists or whatever, of course, I would probably take a couple of years off - OK, it's quite hard because there are other things that I feel that I have devoted myself to, but... - to devote myself to travelling to sites relevant to magia posthuma and vampires and exploring the history of this subject, publishing source texts in luxury annotated editions etc., and in cooperation with various like minded people trying to write that elusive book to end all books on the subject...


Those of us who are inclined towards bibliophilia will probably be fascinated by this list of rare and expensive books currently for sale on Abebooks. The prices are astronomical - $ 1.800.000 for a book! - so there's no Cosmographia for me.

Those who are inclined towards fictional vampires will be drawn in by this edition of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre with its reference to 'the foul German spectre - the Vampyre', see e.g. James B. Twitchell's The Living Dead: A Study of the Vampire in Romantic Literature (Duke University Press, 1981), itself a nice book for bibliophiles because of the dust jacket with the two holes punched out to look like the mark of a vampire's bite on the neck of the woman in one Fuseli's Nightmare paintings.

One may wonder what the price would be of an original copy of von Schertz's Magia Posthuma. I know of at most three (3) copies of this book, so it would probably fetch a high price if set for sale on auction, but who knows.

Fortunately, an increasing number of those early books are now available digitally. That's not quite satisfactory for those who like to have a physical copy of the original book, but we are at least allowed the possibility of reading the text. Anyway, the owner of that edition of Jane Eyre which costs $ 122.107,03 probably wouldn't dare to sit comfortably on the settee reading it. He or she would probably rather buy a cheap paperback edition in order not to damage the expensive investment.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Nosferatu annotated

Following up from my list of annotated editions of Dracula, I always find it interesting to see what they have to say about the origins of the word 'nosferatu' in connection with Abraham Van Helsing's words about the 'Un-Dead':

'Before we do anything, let me tell you this; it is out of the lore and experience of the ancients and of all those who have studied the powers of the Un-Dead. When they become such, there comes with the change the curse of immortality; they cannot die, but must go on age after age adding new victims and multiplying the evils of the world; for all that die from the preying of the Un-Dead becomes themselves Un-Dead, an prey on their kind. And so the circle goes on ever widening, like as the ripples from a stone thrown in the water. Friend Arthur, if you had met that kiss which you know of before poor Lucy die; or again, last night when you open your arms to her, you would in time, when you had died, have become nosferatu, as they call it in Eastern Europe, and would all time make more of those Un-Deads that so have fill us with horror.' (chapter XVI, 29 September)

So here is what the editors of the various annotated editions have to say:

Leonard Wolf (1975, 1993): 'A Romanian word meaning "not dead".'

Raymond McNally and Radu Florescu (1979): 'Stoker got this name from Emily Gerard's book The Land Beyond the Forest; the word may be a distortion of one of the Romanian words for devil, necuratru, which also means 'unclean'.'

Nina Auerbach and David J. Skal (1997): In a note to the appended excerpt from Emily Gerard's Transylvanian Superstitions they say: 'The word nosferatu appears in no Romanian or Hungarian dictionary, nor in any standard text on Eastern European folklore available to Gerard. It is possible she mistook a usage of the Romanian adjective nesuferit ("plaguesome") in connection with vampires and inadvertantly coined the now familiar term.'

Clive Leatherdale (1998, 2006): 'The word comes from 'Transylvanian Superstitions'.' He also comments on Van Helsing's speech by saying that 'to claim that vampirism spreads exponentially cannot be sustained, for otherwise the world would have long been vampirised.'

Leslie S. Klinger (2008): 'The term "nosferatu" is borrowed from Emily Gerard's 1885 "Transylvanian Superstitions," although subsequent scholars believe she misunderstood the actual Transylvanian word. For example, J. Gordon Melton (The Vampire Book) states that the word is a derivative of the Greek word nosophoros, meaning "plague carrier," whereas David Skal (V is for Vampire) contends that Gerard "must have recorded a corrupted or misunderstood version of the Roumanian adjective 'nesuferit' from the Latin 'not to suffer.'" Klinger then adds: 'In Mel Brooks's delicious Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), Van Helsing (played by Brooks) advises the disturbed Jonathan Harker (Steven Weber) about the recently turned Lucy. "She's alive?" Harker asks. Van Helsing replies, "She's Nosferatu." Harker blurts out: "She's Italian?"'

Election time

Inspired by another blog, I find it appropriate to promote the following video:

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Modern 'vampirism'

In my recent post on Rita Voltmer's Hexen. Wissen was stimmt, I mentioned that she says that she refers to modern claims of vampirism in Africa. She refers to a book by Wolfgang Behringer which I haven't seen. However, some claims of 'vampirism', which in this case refers to blood drinkers who may not necessarily be dead people, are investigated in a book called Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa by Luise White (University of California Press, 2000). I admit that I haven't read it, and it isn't really about the vampires that this blog is about it, but from what I have noticed it looks like a very interesting book about history writing:

'Historians should, I think, find vampire stories good to write about, just as the people quoted in this book found vampires good to talk about. They make for better, more comprehensive histories. As chapter 1 argues, vampires themselves are revealing beings: a separate race of bloodsucking creatures, living among humans on fluids that they extract from human bodies; vampires mark a way in which relations of race, of bodies, and of tools of extraction can be debated, theorized, and explained. No vampire stands alone. The incorporation of vampire stories in any historical reconstruction allows for a description of these debates. And that description alone should generate a more nuanced reconstruction of the past. The reconstruction does not come from vampire stories alone, but rather from how those stories feed off the other stories through which a past is known. The vampire stories that prostitutes told in colonial Nairobi, for example, did not change the way I thought about the history of that city, but they did allow me to access changing ideas about gender and culture, about menstruation and property and its transmission in colonial times.' (p. 307-8)

If you're intrigued, go to the excerpt available on Amazon to know a bit more about those 'vampires'.
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