Tuesday, 15 September 2009

A weblog approach

Further papers from the conference in Vienna this summer are now available, including my own contribution, which is actually in English. Apart from an insight into this blog, it contains some information on the contents of the enigmatic Magia posthuma by Karl Ferdinand von Schertz...


Anonymous said...

Just finished reading the paper. (Thanks for writing in English, or it might have been two or three weeks before I could say that. Mein Deutsch sind sehr langsam.)

A really nice review of the blog and its mission, and I especially enjoyed the review of Von Schertz's work, since that occurred here before I started following the blog regularly.

One of the reasons I enjoy your blog so much is that around about 2005 I tried using the Internet to uncover the folkloric roots of werewolves, and after reading Baring-Gould and Wilde's translation of Petronius, gave up in disgust at the amount of crap there was masquerading as folklore. (As I'm sure you know, the demarcations between witches, werewolves, and vampires are not so tightly drawn in folklore as they are in fiction, and research into one frequently overlaps with the others. I remain astounded by the elaborate taxonomies of the undead published as nonfiction that are simply unsupported by documented folklore.) So I've always admired your diligence in uncovering original sources. Bravo, Niels!

A couple of unrelated notes probably outside your remit with Magia Posthuma:

- In terms of popular culture, I wonder how much the dreadful state of popular "nonfiction" regarding vampires is due to the influence of role-playing games (RPGs)? When I was researching werewolves, I came across these incredibly detailed taxonomies of supernatural flesh-eaters, all linked back to folkloric accounts, that seemed to be directed primarily at dungeon-masters and other authors of role-playing games. (I never played them myself, and given our ages, I suspect you didn't either.)

- Have you ever looked into the literature surrounding the Anglo-Scottish lich? A search of your blog for "lich" turns up no results. Liches are soulless bodies that return to seek revenge or resolution that the living person never achieved. The lich tradition seems related to the vampire tradition, and written accounts stretch back to the late Middle Ages, and it seems relevant to the question of European notions of posthumous magic. Maybe you don't think so, but I'd be curious to know why. (It may be that, as an American, I'm fascinated by Ambrose Bierce's inclusion of the lich in American literature [see, e.g., The Death of Halpin Fraser], since he was roughly contemporaneous with Le Fanu and Stoker.)

Anthony Hogg said...

Hi Niels,

I am incredibly flattered to have garnered mention in your essay.

You were indeed greatly influential in my blog's creation and I continue to enjoy reading your blog entries.

Keep up the great work!

jola said...

I enjoyed reading your paper, Niels - especially since it was refreshingly, bracingly irony-, snark-, and double-entendre-free.

Also, I followed Howard's crumbs and read the Ambrose Bierce story. I chuckled at the mordant wit, e.g., the line, "Halpin Fraser was a poet only as he was a penitent: in his dream" - which seems on first reading ironic and snarky, but [spoiler alert!] upon reaching the end of the tale, quite accurately foretold the ending.

I enjoy your blog and wish I had more - anything - of substance to contribute. Re, for example, your post about the WWI soldiers in Serbia complaining about their chronic problem with vampires ("We've been tormented and pursued by these monsters forever") - I tried to find the name of the village in question in my atlas, to no avail (no surprise). Also, I googled it - nothing.

There's a show here in the [U.] States called History Detectives," where historians track down the provenance and narrative history of scraps of intriguing source material. Along those lines, might there be a "local" Romanian reader of your blog who might be in a better position to track down the fabled village of Progatza, shed some light on that particular anecdote?

I appreciate your historical approach very much, and teeter in my own mind whether to take these historical accounts as literal (visitations from another realm) or cultural-anxiety (fear of the other, change, class differentials, etc.).

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