Monday, 9 May 2011

'Introuvable de nos jours'

The availability of Magia posthuma by Karl Ferdinand von Schertz still appears to be unknown to some scholars, as is shown by this quote from a new French book on vampires:

'Cet ouvrage, introuvable de nos jours est cité in A. CALMET, Traité ... et par M. SUMMERS, The Vampire in Europe ...'

The book is LES VAMPIRES: Du folklore slave à la littérature occidentale by Daniela Soloviova-Horvilla from Université de Picardie Jules-Verne. Anthony Hogg kindly mentioned the book to me recently.

Well, others have made the assumption about Magia Posthuma before her, so there is no reason to dwell more on it here, because this book certainly looks very, very promising.

Comprising 368 pages with a preface by Antoine Faivre (author of Les Vampires published almost fifty years ago in 1962), the book is divided into three parts: Firstly La vision du vampire chez les Slaves dealing with early Slavic conceptions of vampires from the 6th to the 19th century, next La divulgation des pratiques slaves en Occident au XVIIIe siècle dealing with some of the well-known descriptions and cases concerning vampires and Greek revenants, and finally Le vampirisme comme théme dans la littérature occidentale du XIXe siècle which traces the emergence and development of the early fictional vampire finishing with Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Soloviova-Horvilla herself has a background in Bulgaria which provides her with a working knowledge of the languages pertinent to the Slavic vampire (as Faivre says: 'de langue maternelle bulgare, elle possède aussi de solides connaissances en d'autres langues balkaniques, ainsi qu'en russe'), so her work obviously draws on a number of sources otherwise not easily available to Western scholars. Looking at her bibliography, she not only lists well-known sources like Bericht des Medicus Glaser, Visum et Repertum Über die sogenannte Vampÿrs, and Bram Stoker's notes at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, but also Bulgarian and Serbian sources, as well as the correspondence of Augustin Calmet stored at Nancy.

The book indeed looks very interesting, and I hope to return to it in some future post when I have had more time to study it. Faivre in the preface says that every good library should have a copy of this book: 'Destiné à des lecteurs d'horizons divers tels que historiens des idées, de la littérature, des arts, linguistes, ethnologues, il se devra de figurer dans toute bonne bibliothèque - pas seulement dans celles des vampirologues.'

Les Vampires is published by L'Harmattan and is also available as an e-book in PDF.

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