Wednesday 27 February 2013

Austria or Serbia?

Roxanne Hellman and Derek Hall's Vampire Legends and Myths published in a series of books about the supernatural in 2012 by Rosen Publishing is a very attractive book about vampires aimed at adolescent readers. It is attractive because of a variety of colour illustrations from a broad range of places and sources, a selection that reflects an unusual variety of topics, which however are somewhat marred by a lack of precision. E.g. Kisiljevo or Kisilova is described as 'an Austrian village' and the text is accompanied by a nice photo of what looks precisely like that: a village in Austria instead of a village in Serbia. At the same time, Peter Plogojowitz is clearly characterized as 'a Serbian peasant'. It is, however, still a joy to flick through the pages of this book to study a great number of photos from Romania and other places around the world.

Kisilova: 'an Austrian village'
The Morava river, and Kosovo, 'in the vicinity of which Arnold Paole was seemingly troubled by a vampire'
Voltaire and Empress Maria Theresa
'Gerard van Swieten, whose investigations put an end to vampire hysteria in Austria' (sic)

Monday 25 February 2013

Dracula e il mito dei vampiri

A copy of Johann Christoph Harenberg's Vernünftige und Christliche Gedanken über die Vampirs oder Bluhtsaugende Todten (1733) on display in Milan
This is a selection of videos from the current exhibition on Dracula and the vampire myth at the Triennale di Milano in Italy. The exhibition combines items from the exhibition that was originally on display at the Schloss Ambras in Austria, and that I myself saw when exhibited in Bucharest in Romania, with new items from e.g. vampire films like Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Austrian and Romanian catalogues for the original Dracula exhibition

Sunday 24 February 2013

They are coming...

The Schwarze Romantik exhibition that I mentioned in an earlier post, is opening at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris on March 5 under the title L'ange du bizarre. Le romantisme noir de Goya à Max Ernst. I myself plan to go and see the exhibition before it ends in early June.

The catalogue, previously available only in German and English, is now also available in French with Carlos Schwabe's painting of Death and the graveyard digger on the cover.

Guided tours will explore the literary roots of dark romanticism from Shakespare to Shelley, Poe and Le Fanu. Three talks are planned in March: Guillaume Faroult from the Louvre will talk about Les sources obscures de la peinture anglaise : Shakespeare, Burke, Füssli, Von Holst..., Julie Ramos from the Institut National de l'Histoire de l'Art about Religion, mélancolie et paysage chez Caspar David Friedrich, and Emmanuel Reibel from the Université Paris X about Sorcières et fantômes dans la musique de Berlioz à Wagner. In April and May the museum will celebrate the works of three Scandinavian film directors: Victor Sjöström, Mauritz Stiller and Benjamin Christensen.

Saturday 16 February 2013

Waking the German Undead

The development of the literary vampire from John William Polidori’s The Vampyre over Varney the Vampire and Carmilla to Bram Stoker’s Dracula is well-known. This development highlights the vampire as an English language phenomenon, but this is, perhaps, due to lack of knowledge of the German language vampire fiction of the nineteenth century. According to Oliver Kotowski, this view probably stems from both Stefan Hock and Montague Summers, the latter claiming that ‘in Germany sensational fiction was long largely influenced by Polidori’, but it is a view that underestimates the number of vampire stories actually written during the nineteenth century.

Kotowski collects a dozen of these stories in his recent anthology Lasst die Toten ruhen: Deutsche Vampirgeschichten aus dem 19. Jahrhundert (Atlantis Verlag, 368 pages, paperback and hardcover at 14.90 € and 19.90 € respectively). Spanning the whole century, the stories are stylistically different, and Kotowski also includes two stories from parts of Eastern Europe that were available in German at the time.

Some texts are relatively well-known, e.g. Hoffmann’s Cyprians Erzählung, while others see their first modern reprint in this volume. Ernst Benjamin Salomo Raupach’s Lasst die Toten ruhen is among the latter, although it has been frequently reprinted in English as Wake Not The Dead where it is usually attributed to Johann Ludwig Tieck. An appendix reprints another story that is popular in English, The Mysterious Stranger, but as the original in German is so far unknown, Kotowski here has translated it from the English short story.

Each story is accompanied by biographical and bibliographical information as well as an afterword on the story and its use of the vampire motif. At the end of the book is a short summary of tendences in the German vampire literature of the nineteenth century and a bibliography.

Monday 11 February 2013

The value of books...

The value of printed books unfortunately deteriorates as one has to wade through a flood of cheaply made print on demand reprints, and now this: a book on Peter Plogojowitz apparently consisting of material from Wikipedia, but still sold for no less a price than € 34!

Considering that the original Wikipedia entries will be updated over time, what is the point in printing and selling them in the first place?

Sunday 10 February 2013

The living and the dead

'One would not easily believe that corpses come out of their graves and wander around to terrorize the living, were there not so many cases supported by ample testimony.'

This BBC documentary from the series Inside the Medieval Mind spends some time on the relationship between the living and the dead in medieval Britain. Narrator Robert Bartlett of St Andrew's University recounts some of the 'ghost stories' told by William of Newburgh and others. Many of these stories are compiled by Andrew Joynes in Medieval Ghost Stories (The Boydell Press, 2001).

Bartlett is author of several books including The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

From the fifth book of William of Newburgh's Chronica rerum anglicarum as paraphrased by Robert Bartlett in the quote above.
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