Monday 31 December 2007

A New Year

My sincerest and best wishes for the new year to anyone visiting this blog!

It has been interesting and fruitful to start blogging about the subject of magia posthuma and vampires. It has taken time from my primary work on the subject, but it has allowed me to get in touch with a small number of people around the globe sharing my interest, and they all seem to have their own perspective on the subject. This feedback has mostly been via private e-mail,

In that respect the blog has been a success, but hopefully this is only the beginning of establishing some more contact between those of us who are seriously interested in putting the early modern tales and books on vampires and other revenants in their historical and folkloric context. There are, I believe, surprisingly few people who wish to understand “wie es eigentlich geschehen ist” when corpses were disinterred and destroyed out of fear of the dead in e.g. Moravia, Banat or Serbia in the 17th and 18th centuries. And fewer who go to the trouble of excavating contemporary source material, and if you excuse the pun, try to dig deeper than your average “vampirologist”.

So apart from hoping that I will find ample time to work on both my studies of the subject and this blog, it is my sincere wish that we can build some kind of network of people interested in this strange and morbid, yet somehow very giving subject. Although we are all, I suppose, hoping to give our individual and original contribution to the field, I believe that we can benefit from communicating our results and thoughts. At least, it would be useful just to know what is going on. So I hope to hear your comments, either through this blog or privately by e-mail, so it will be possible to assess the possibilities.

This year has seen the publishing of David Keyworth's Troublesome Corpses that is broader in its scope than what has previously been written in English, compiling a wealth of material on vampires and other "undead corpses". The only other new book that I can think of that was published this year, is Helmut Werner's Das Grosse Handbuch der Dämonen which is an enjoyable, but unfortunately unreliable attempt to collect a lot of information about vampires, werewolves, demons and "monsters".

Hopefully, 2008 will see more books and papers published on our subject. In fact, in 2006 several books of note were published (Peter Kremer's Draculas Vettern, Bruce McClelland's Slayers and their Vampires, the anthology Vampires: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil, a new German annotated translation of Calmet's Gelehrte Verhandlung, and modern editions of Ranft's Traktat and a couple of other books), so it will be interesting to see if more are on their way.

In any case, the game is afoot, and you have my best wishes for 2008!


Niels K. Petersen said...

It's not easy if you happen to live in Denmark (like me) and would like to take a look at some of these books. Only one of the books mentioned (and appearing in the accompanying photo) is available in one copy at a library in Denmark: McClelland's Slayers and their Vampires. Unfortunately, the same goes for a lot of other books on the subject.

Anonymous said...

I share your frustration, but on a different level.

I find that many books on vampires available in the libraries I patron are just rehashes of established material. The more scholarly works are harder to come by and are gratingly complex.

I like to look overseas for relevant materials; a fresher, untapped source of information of vampire research, but I come across another barrier: they generally remain untranslated into English.

Very few works make the treatment in this way - off the top of my head, I can list Ornella Volta's The Vampire and Jean Marigny's Vampires: The World of the Undead as a couple of rare examples.

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