Wednesday 31 March 2010

A book full of surprises

Purchasing second hand books over the internet can provide both positive and negative surprises, as I have mentioned before.

I recently bought a copy of the 1961 French anthology Roger Vadim présente: Histoires de Vampires based on the original Italian Vampiri tra noi compiled by Ornella Volta and Valerio Riva from 1960. The French edition comprises 593 pages, whereas the 1963 English edition omits a lot of the contents ending up at only 286 pages. Anyway, the copy I bought turned out to contain numerous surprises as a previous owner had put a number of cuts from papers and magazines in it, mostly just pictures that the owner must have found appropriate to this book. Certainly, a charming idea which adds a personal dimension to a book that includes not one single illustration. And I will, of course, leave them as the previous owner arranged them.

What makes this book particularly interesting is the part on vampirologie which contains excerpts from Calmet, Voltaire's famous text on vampires ('Quoi ! c'est dans notre dix-hitième siècle qu'il y a eu des vampires !'), an excerpt from Caraccioli's biography of pope Benedict XIV as wells as texts by that pope, and van Swieten's remarks on vampires (unfortunately, not in the original French text by in a translation from the Italian translation). The rest of the book anthologizes a number of now well-known vampire short stories by Polidori, Gautier, Doyle etc.

Caraccioli's book on Benedict XIV, La Vie du Pape Benoît XIV Prosper Lambertini, by the way can be found on google books: 'Dans plusieurs villages de Pologne & de Hongrie, imbus de ces fables, on exhumoit fréquemment des cadavres, qu'on soupconnoit Vampires; & c'étoit affez qu'ils parussent avoir le visage enflammé, pour qu'on les mutilât & qu'on outrageât leur mémoire.' The same goes for another book by Caraccioli excerpted in the anthology: Lettres a une illustre morte, décédéé en Pologne depuis peu de tems, which contains a few letters concerning vampires.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Gender and crime

Criminal women is the theme of a book published last year: Murderesses in German Writing, 1720-1860: Heroines of Horror by Susanne Kord from the Department of German at University College London. The book contains a chapter on vampires, including a history of how 'Serbian vampires come to life in Germany (Leipzig and Vienna, 1732-1755)', but probably mostly concentrating on Elizabeth Bathory and 'female vampires in literature from Goethe to the Grimms (1797-1823)'. Published by Cambridge University Press, it is available for around £50.

The cover reproduces Philip Burne-Jones's famous painting The Vampire.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Dracula bibliography

This is mostly about the fictional Dracula, but I am sure some will find this Canadian three part bibliography useful. It is particularly strong on literature in English and French on Stoker and his novel and its adaptations. Part three is concerned with the cinematic Dracula.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Revenants and vampire forensics

National Geographics has recently aired a documentary on 'vampire forensics' inspired by the find of a skeleton near Venice that some archaeologists have claimed to have been that of a 'vampire corpse' - see e.g. this previous post. The theory is highly improbable, but the documentary may still be very interesting to watch. I suppose that it is closely linked to the new book from National Geographics on the same subject, which is advertised in the video below.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Flückinger and Mayo

Untotes Wachsen im Textgrab: Zur narrativen Ausarbeitung von Flückingers Vampirismus-Protokoll (1732) bei Herbert Mayo (1846) by Clemens Ruthner is the latest addition to the anthology of papers from the conference on vampirism in Vienna last summer:

'The written records and the tradition of the vampire phenomenon are rich. I will focus on the literary and cultural constitution of the (popular) vampire myth on the basis of the existing textual corpus. Starting point are the earliest authentic reports on vampires from Serbia around 1732 which provide an interesting case study. It will be shown how from then on up to the 19th century a vampire plot has been developed and transformed in oral and written tradition through compilation, citation and similar intertextual processes - a kind of ping-pong play as it were between historical documents and literary texts.'

Monday 1 March 2010


Rob Brautigam, known for the Shroudeater web site, recently created another web site: Euroghost, devoted to 'his side interest in ghosts and hauntings and other paranormal phenomena'. Check his introduction, if you find this intriguing.
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