Tuesday, 21 October 2008


Last year I mentioned a book by Christa A. Tuczay about demonic crimes in the Donau Monarchy: Die Herzesser: Dämonische Verbrechen in der Donaumonarchie (Seifert Verlag, 2007). I bought a copy of it when I was in Vienna, and from the parts that I have read I can say that it is a nice and informative book about subjects like cannibals, werewolves, murderers and vampires from the countries that have been part of the Donau monarchy!

There are about a dozen pages about vampires that provide an overview of some of the 18th century vampire cases, including Georg Tallar's examinations of victims of vampires. Gilles de Rais, Elisabeth Báthory, Vlad Tepes and a few other well-known characters are also briefly described, slightly ironically, as Tuczay says in her afterword: 'obwohl sie sicherlich meist nicht zum Lachen reizen, sich aber mit einer Prise Humor leichter ertragen lassen.'

The 'heart eaters' mentioned in the title refer to various tales of literal and symbolic eaters and stealers of hearts, including Le Livre du cuer d'amours espris by René d'Anjou, which exists in an illuminated manuscript in Vienna (see the above illustration which is shown in black and white in the book). In this poem the poet is in love and dreams that Amor takes out his heart and gives it to Desire, cf. the illustration. In other tales, the heart of a lover is served as food by the cuckolded husband to his wife.

The foreword is by Mark Benecke, and there are useful notes specifying sources and further reading. All in all 160 illustrated pages at €19.90, and once again: it is in German...

Addendum: I notice that Tuczay is also one of the editors of a new anthology entitled Faszination des Okkulten: Diskurse zum Übersinnlichen published by Francke Verlag that also published the Poetische Wiedergänger anthology on vampires.

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