Sunday, 7 July 2013

A well-illustrated history of a modern myth

When in Paris a couple of months ago, I picked up a number of books at the Musée d'Orsay, including Jean Marigny's Vampires de la legende au mythe moderne published in 2011 by Éditions de La Martinière.

Large format, nicely bound with blood red edges, and fully illustrated in colour, it also includes three special booklets containing cover art, posters and stills from vampire novels and films. There are, in fact, a number of illustrations that you will probably not find elsewhere. The text, however, follows relatively traditional lines: 'Vampires' from various periods and regions across the globe, as well as listing Vlad Tepes, Elizabeth Bathory and Gilles de Rais as persons who inspired the vampire myth, and the main portion of the book traces the fictional vampire from John Polidori's Lord Ruthven to True Blood and manga.

Essentially, this is a colourful introduction to the subject, but those interested in vampires from a more historical or folkloric point of view, should rather seek out Marigny's Sang pour sang: Le réveil des vampires (translated into English as Vampires: The World of the Undead) or the volume Colloque de Cerisy: Les Vampires.

'Aujord'hui, le vampire est omniprésent sur nos écrans, dans nos libraires et dans le multiples manifestations. Cette vitalité exubérante est sans doute un signe de santé mais elle peut aussi mener rapidement à seuil de saturation. La mode actuelle des vampires a-t-elle des chances de durer? Nul ne peut le dire. On peut raisonnablement supposer que le vampire, devenu trop banal, connaîtra dans les années à venir une nouvelle période de récession - mais on sait aussi qu'il est immortel ...' (from Marigny's conclusion).


Vladkergan said...

And I'm glad to have worked on the comics (eastern european, manga and US comics) part of the book. Despite the fact that the book follows traditionnal lines, this is one of the most gorgeous book about the vampire mythe, and amply illustrated.

Niels K. Petersen said...

Gorgeous it is, and I hope to have given a glimpse of it by showing some photos of the book.

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