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'.

Sunday 15 June 2008

Kind words

I can't help mentioning that I stumbled upon a very nice blog post about this blog. As I feel that I struggle with writing in English, I am very flattered to read that "The Danish Mr. Petersen writes in a very elegant English."

From Demons To Dracula

I recently mentioned the forthcoming book From Demons to Dracula: The Creation of the Modern Vampire Myth by Matthew Beresford. I have been contacted by the author who informs me that he is an archaeologist, tutor in Adult Education and freelance writer based in Bolsover, Derbyshire in the UK.

The book will be published by Reaktion Books in the UK on October 8th, and in USA on November 15th. Beresford tells me that, "it’s purpose is to argue for an evolution for the vampire and how this created the modern myth, from the early demon forms of the Ancient World, early ideas on death, burial & the afterlife, early Medieval beliefs and legends, the witch trials and plagues of the Middle Ages, the folklore of Eastern Europe, the Victorian Literature of 19th century England and the many film adaptations and on-screen vampires, as well as modern cases of the phenomenon."

Saturday 7 June 2008


I am not aware of other blogs that are dedicated to the subject of vampires in a way that is reminiscent of this blog. There is the one that used to follow Bram Stoker's Dracula from day to day, Dracula blogged - unfortunately it is not set for working this year - and then there is a French blog dedicated to all sorts of aspects of the subject, mainly the fictional vampire and Vlad Tepes: le blog.

Other blogs are devoted to other aspects of history, the fantastic and horror, e.g. this delightful blog of Frankensteiniana.

Thursday 5 June 2008

Cover art

I have been asked about the painting on the cover of the Romanian book shown in this post. It's a painting by a Polish artist whose name is spelled either as Bolesław Biegass of Boleslas Biegas (1877-1954). It is usually called Kiss of the Vampire in English, but I'm not sure about the original title. Biegas painted a few other paintings with a similar motif.

Hamberger on ebay

The two volumes compiled and written by Klaus Hamberger, Mortuus non mordet: Kommentierte Dokumentation zum Vampirismus 1689 - 1791 and Über Vampirismus: Krankengeschichten und Deutungsmuster 1801 - 1899 are currently for sale on ebay. Unfortunately, although this is a rare opportunity to bid on these two books, the seller has listed them for sale only to German bidders.

The seller writes: 'habe die bücher beide von einer freundin, die über dieses thema diplom geschrieben hat', i.e. I have received both books from a friend who has written about this theme for her exam/degree.

Sunday 1 June 2008

Forthcoming books

A new edition of the German translation of Claude Lecouteux's book on vampires, Die Geschichte der Vampire: Metamorphose eines Mythos will be published by Patmos Verlag this June.

This fall the University of Chicago Press distributes a title for Reaktion Books that sounds interesting: From Demons to Dracula: The Creation of the Modern Vampire Myth by Matthew Beresford. The subject should be European history which is why it sounds quite interesting. However, I haven't yet found any information about Beresford or the book apart from the title, price and that kind of information.


Recently, the author of one of the books that I have written about sent me an e-mail. I think, he basically wanted to say that: OK, if you're after more information on the historical aspects of vampirism, then my book probably will be of little use, but I am sure that my book is (to quote his e-mail) 'pretty good for what it set out to do'.

Returning from a few days away, I found a copy of another book on vampires that I had decided to order: Legends of Blood: The Vampire in History and Myth by Wayne Bartlett and Flavia Idriceanu. Unfortunately, just perusing it for a short while led me to conclude that this too is one of those books that I will gain very little useful from.

Barlett is a management consultant who has worked for some time in Romania and written a number of books on historical topics. Idriceanu is a philologist in Bucharest. Their book is not simply the usual rehash of information on vampires, because they include some chapters on witches and 'the magus', but honestly, I don't get the impression that I will gain much from reading the book. The chapter on 'The Vampire Epidemics' is based on Barber, Frayling, Ronay and a few other well-known authors. In fact, the bibliography is pretty revealing, because it is relatively short and not impressing. It even includes four Harry Potter novels and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings!

No doubt the book is probably a pleasant read for the reader who isn't particularly familiar with the history of vampires, but I feel that my own time is too limited for me to spend a few hours reading this particular book. And I hope that my short posts on books may spare other people from spending time and money on books that may not be worth obtaining if you have an interest in vampires and magia posthuma that is more or less similar to my own.

I did actually find one interesting fact in the bibliography: The book on vampires by Claude Lecouteux has been published in Romania: Vampiri si vampirism. Autopsia unui mit (Bucuresti: Saeculum, 2002).

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