Saturday, 5 January 2013

A terrible incident ...

The fourth annual edition of Austria, an Austrian universal calendar or almanac for the year 1843, contains a wealth of information for erudition and entertainment, including a short article on vampires by one J. P. Kaltenbaeck. The main part of this short article reproduces the text of a leaflet from 1725 entitled Entsetzliche Begebenheit, welche sich in dem Dorff Kisolova, ohnweit Belgrad in der Ober-Ungarn, von einigen Tagen zugetragen, published without a place of printing.

The text itself is not identical with, but overall very close to the version of Frombald's report from Kisiljevo reprinted in the Wienerisches Diarium on July 21 1725. As the Diarium was closely connected to the Viennese court, one would suppose that the report was first published in the Diarium and then made available as a flyer or leaflet, even though the title of the flyer claims that the incident happened only days before the printing.

Copies of such flyers are usually pretty scarce, as Kaltenbaech himself also notes: 'Der folgende Bericht ist einem fliegenden Blatte entnommen, das wohl jetzt zu den Seltenheiten gehören dürfte.' Personally, I cannot recall seeing any more recent writer dealing it with more than its title - until I was recently contacted by a reader of this blog, who kindly told me of an item that a Scottish dealer of antiquarian books had for sale a couple of years ago:

Kayserl Provisor in Gradicker District.: Entsetzliche Begebenheit, welche sich in dem Dorff Kisolova ohnweit Belgard in Ober-Ungarn vor einigen Tagen zugertragen. 1725. n.p., n.d. single sheet folded , pp.4, 20 x 16 cms., Gothic type , sl. worn at edges and with a few small marginal tears not affecting text, light age staining. Not noted in Caillet and not traced in any major search engine. Concerns the celebrated case of Peter Plogojowitz, an alleged vampire. See Paul Barber : Vampires, Burial, and Death. pp.5-9

And the price? £350.

I contacted the dealer who informed me that it had been bought by another dealer, and he was unable to tell me anything about its whereabouts. So either that other dealer has sold it on, probably at a price substantially higher than £350, or it awaits a buyer somewhere willing to part with a nice sum.

Apart from the leaflet, Frombald's report appears to have attracted only limited interest. It was reprinted in  the so-called Breslauische Sammlungen under the title 'Abentheuerliche Begebenheit mit einem vermeyntlich wieder gekommenen Todten' where it is noted that it is taken from the public gazettes in Holstein: 'in den öffentlichen Holsteinischen Gazetten', but no one seems to have identified these periodicals or perhaps flyers. Apart from discussing the substance of the report itself, Michael Ranft's De masticatione mortuorum in tumulis is dealt with. Ranft himself was himself inspired by the report from Kisiljevo to write his dissertation, as he read of it in a Leipzig journal, cf. e.g. Aribert Schroeder's Vampirismus from 1973.

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