Friday, 31 July 2009

Certain dead Bodies

This Digital Library of 18th and 19th Century Journals contains the March 1732 issue of The Gentleman's Magazine, which on page 681 reports 'That certain dead Bodies called Vampyres, had kill'd several Persons by sucking out all their Blood.' This was not the first British magazine to mention vampires, as The London Journal did that, but that is, I think, not yet available online. The article in that journal, a shortened and corrupted version of the Visum et Repertum, led to a political debate in several journals which was documented in the May issue of The Gentleman's Magazine. Unfortunately, one of the pages of this issue seems to be unavailable at the moment (I have notified the webmaster of this error), but one can still get a flavour of this debate on e.g. 'Political Vampyres'.

'These Vampyres are said to torment and kill the Living by sucking out all their Blood; and a ravenous Minister, in this part of the World, is compared to a Leech or a Blood-sucker, and carries his Oppressions beyond the Grave, by anticipating the publick Revenues, and entailing a Perpetuity of Taxes, which must gradually drain the Body Politick of its Blood and Spirits.'

The article is reprinted in Gothic documents: A sourcebook 1700-1820 edited by E. J. Clery and Robert Miles (Manchester Univ. Press, 2000) which describes it this way:

'This item is from The Craftsman, a journal fiercely opposed to the Prime Minister Robert Walpole (father of the author of The Castle of Otranto). It rehearses the standard changes made against the Whig government, centring on financial corruption. In doing so, it incidentally displaces the opposition of credulity and scepticism with a materialist interpretation of the case reminiscent of Franco Moretti's well-known Marxist reading of Dracula. The piece could be regarded simply as an elaborate joke, but the reading of superstitious fictions as allegories of political oppression remained an option for early readers of Gothic.'

The supposed vampire Pavle of the Visum et Repertum here gets a new life of his own with a new name in a country far away from where he fell off a haywagon and died:

' Paul Arnold, who is call'd a Heyduke, was only a ministerial Tool, because it is said he had kill'd 4 Persons; whereas, if he had been a Vampyreof any Rank, we shou'd probably have heard of his Ten Thousands. It may be objected that his Body, after it had been buried 40 Days, was free from Corruption. It is the Mind, not the Body is the Author of all Wickedness; and a Man can no more carry his bad Qualities, than his Riches with him to the grave. His Corruption and the Fruits of it remains to stinck in the Nostrils of his Posteriority.'

The whole debate and the vampire's entry in English literature is minutely detailed in a chapter in another book on gothic fiction: Markman Ellis' The History of Gothic Fiction (Edinburg University Press, 2005), which I have mentioned here and here.

Hungarian roots

An interest in vampires can be hard to suppress, at least for some of us. In the foreword to a masters thesis on the Hungarian roots of Nosferatu, Csaba Ljendel traces his interest back to 1996 when as a freshman studying medicine in Vienna he got interested in illnesses that might be connected with the subject of vampires. After some time he stopped studying medicine and got a job in the Austrian police, which allowed him to later on go back to the university to study Hungarology - and vampires! This year he then submitted his thesis (Magisterarbeit), which can be found on the internet via the above link.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The apparition comes...

One of the most famous, if not the most famous, literary ghost is, of course, the ghost in Shakespeare's Hamlet, which is set at the Kronborg Castle in Elsinore (actually: Helsingør) here in my native country. I was there the oher day on other business, so I finally got round to visiting the castle for the first time since I was a child. A plaque reminds the numerous visitors of the relation to Shakespeare and the story of Amleth as told by Saxo Grammaticus.

Apart from being the literary site of what has become clichés like e.g. the one about there being more things in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in Horatio's philosophy, Kronborg's for centuries was used to guard the passage in the sound between Denmark and Sweden allowing for demanding sound dues of the ships passing through.

In the casemates below the castle a statue of Holger Danske (Ogier the Dane) who according to the legend will come alive and save Denmark if needs be.

At the castle I noticed a small painting of one of the persons whom I have occasionally mentioned on this blog: Maria Theresa being crowned with laurels by Wisdom, painted in 1744 by Johann Georg Dathan.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Across the Forest

Rob Brautigam has kindly informed me of a new documentary on Romanian strigoi, varcolaci and forest spirits called Across the Forest. More information on the documentary, a trailer is available at this web site. Here you can also order the DVD for $9.99 plus shipping. I have myself just ordered it, so I am unable to comment on the contents, but you can read Brautigam's review, and listen to a radio interview with one of the film makers.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Your inner vampire

I recently saw a book from 1999 by French sociologist Sabine Jarrot, Le vampire dans la littérature du XIXe au XXe siècle, which explores the differences between the portrayal of the vampire in the 19th and 20th centuries. She concludes that the vampire has become humanizes and asks what that tells us about our modern society and ourselves. Apart from a chapter on the genesis of the vampire that contains some information on the historical vampire, this book of course mainly is about fictional vampires.

This humanization of the vampire - which is also evident for certain other 'monsters' - is apparent from so much of the vampire fiction currently available, so much so that the so-called Vampire-con has taken the identification with the vampire as its catchphrase: 'Find your inner vampire'.

This 'con' has been mentioned in several places, so I thought I should mention it as well, at least it goes to show the popularity of vampire fiction these days. Set in mid August in Hollywood it is basically a film festival with panel discussions and a party. A number of well-known authors participate: Leslie S. Klinger, J. Gordon Melton, David J. Skal, and even Don F. Glut, and the vampire movies include older 'classics' and a sneak preview of an upcoming movie.

Well, you can look for yourself at the official site where you can also find information on the sponsors like a company that sells vampire wine, vodka and fangs! Even us Europeans can easily purchase a bottle of the wine from an online shop, if anyone should wish to impress (?) their friends by serving a 2005 vintage Vampire (actually, Californian Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon).

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A ghost

Inspired by the brothers Grimm, Danish author and art historian Just Mathias Thiele (1795-1894) collected and published all sorts of tales, including some about ghosts, werewolves, and mares. Here is an example in my translation:

There lived a wealthy man in Ebeltoft by that alleyway which leads to the beach. He had commerce with prohibited goods, but he behaved himself so cleverly that no one noticed while he was still alive. But when he had died, he got his punishment; for every night he was seen walking from his house to the beach dressed in a tunic with many silver buttons. At long last a priest was called for, who laid him in the meadow and drove a stake in the earth at the place where he had been laid. This stake still stands there, and when one rocks it at winter, he is clearly heard saying: “Tug up! Tug up!”

Monday, 20 July 2009

From tyrant to vampire

Apropos of my recent post, here is another example of a magazine article on Vlad Dracula. It is in Danish, but probably translated from some other language.

Sunday, 19 July 2009


On another blog I noticed a vampire movie set in Romania that may prove interesting. The movie has its own page on facebook where you can see one of the actors talking briefly about strigoi, moroi and the movie.

Witchcraft Reader sans Klaniczay

I recently needed to quote Gabor Klaniczay’s paper on The decline of witches and the rise of vampires, and decided to refer to the edition in Darren Oldridge’s The Witchcraft Reader. I then found out that a second edition of this anthology of witchcraft papers was published in 2008, and that Klaniczay’s paper is no longer in it.

Having now had the chance to look at the second edition, I can see that Oldridge has not only replaced some of the papers in the first edition but has also thoroughly reworked the introductory texts. In particular, the general introduction has changed quite a lot, as Oldridge apparently no longer feels the need to explicitly distance current research from previous efforts like those of Margaret Murray or ‘reprints of eccentric but still popular publications like Montague SummersHistory of Witchcraft. Instead he simply introduces the reader to ‘the magical beliefs that saturated pre-modern communities’ and ‘the interaction between ordinary people and educated demonologists and lawyers’, before confronting the present-centredness (‘the tendency to explain the past in terms that relate mainly to the present’) and moral judgements with which the subject is frequently approached.

Of particular interest here is part nine of the book, the one dealing with the decline of witchcraft. In the first edition it contained Brian P. Levack’s The decline of witchcraft prosecutions, Klaniczay’s paper, and Owen DaviesUrbanization and the decline of witchcraft: An examination of London. In the new edition Klaniczay’s paper has been replaced by The decline of the witchcraft pamphlet by Marion Gibson and Witchcraft after the witch trials by Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra. I suppose that by doing so, a more general picture of the decline is drawn than in the original.

This, however, means that the word ‘vampire’ no longer is in the book. Whatever one may think of Klaniczay’s theory – Peter Mario Kreuter reiterated his critique of it at the conference in Vienna – it has established a link between beliefs in witchcraft and revenants or posthumous magic, cf. e.g. the volume 5 of The Athlone History of Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, that might lead to more research on the connection. This link now is no longer evident from Oldridge’s anthology.

But there is plenty of interesting reading anyway, and I find it well worth quoting the view of 17th century witchcraft sceptic Friedrich Spee as mentioned by Oldridge in his general introduction: ‘the threat of appalling and secret conspiracies requires the highest standards of justice from those who seek to defeat them. If the crime ‘is difficult to prove then there is need for stronger, not weaker proofs’, and ‘if it is hidden and shrouded in shadows, then there is need for more light, not less, in order to illuminate it.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

'Let's save Dracula!'

When in Germany and Austria I have been amazed that there is an audience for magazines that are pretty high brow. In one of the news stands at the Vienna airport I saw a magazine on romanticism that contained e.g. an article on Caspar David Friedrich. It would be impossible to sell something like that in Denmark, but as the above photo shows, the so-called 'historical' Dracula is at times the subject of magazines here in Denmark.

A reader from Romania recently sent me an e-mail with the subject line: 'Let's save Dracula!'. Although it is hard to be interested in vampires and posthumous magic without reading about Vlad Tepes, I personally devote very little time to the subject of this 15th century Valachian ruler. So I had to answer that I probably am the wrong person to involve in an enterprise concerning Vlad Dracula.

But I would like to devote a few lines about a recent effort that shows the way of dealing with both Dracula and vampires, namely an exhibition at the Austrian Castle Ambras in Innsbruck, which I unfortunately was unaware of at the time in 2008. I recently acquired the beautiful and excellent catalogue which documents this stunning and extraordinary exhibition, and I certainly regret that I did not get to see the exhibition :-(

Judging from the catalogue, the exhibition must have been divided into four sections, the first one concerning Vlad III. Dracula, including portraits and manuscripts. There are a number of portraits I have never seen before, and all are remarkably reproduced. The second part concerns Balkan from the period of Vlad Tepes in the 15th century to the time of the vampire cases in the 18th century, including portraits of some of the key persons from the period, maps, weapons, pieces of dress etc.

The following part is about vampirism and traces the vampire in documents and books from Glaser, Flückinger and Ranft and onwards, so here are e.g. examples of the original reports on vampires (in the photo below the report on the presumed vampiress Dorothea Pissin in Banat in February 1753 is shown). The relationship to bats and the fictional vampire are explored, including some of Stoker's notes for Dracula. In the final part the cinematic Dracula is traced through posters and film stills.

In the catalogue each part is introduced with an essay, and every item is described and explained in detail. The catalogue also contains a tabular overview of the German tales about Vlad Dracula, some source texts, and a bibliography.

Obviously this is the way to do it, as I can hardly imagine that anything like this exhibition has been put together before! The catalogue itself is not only stunningly beautiful, but well written and researched, and can be used as a comprehensive resource on Vlad Tepes, Balkan, and both the historical and fictional vampires.

It is, of course, written in what appears to be the lingua franca of this subject: German, but everyone can enjoy the illustrations. To understand the context, you must however read the text.

Even when it comes to the souvenirs there is more class to this extraordinary exhibition than the plastic souvenirs we are used to. The pendant shown along with the catalogue in my photo above is 22 ct gold plated! So I think it is fair to say: Forget about Hollywood, wax museums and the usual Halloween plastic. In stead look to the people at Schloss Ambras and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna for inspiration. They have certainly set a new standard for approaching and presenting Dracula and the history of vampires.

On the Beliefs of the Greeks

At the conference in Vienna I was made aware of a few books that I did not know. One of them is On the Beliefs of the Greeks: Leo Allatios and Popular Orthodoxy by Karen Hartnup published by Brill in 2004. It is unfortunately pretty expensive (£119.70 on amazon), and there is no copy in any Danish library, so I have yet to take a closer look at it. There is, however, a lengthy excerpt on Google Books to whet your appetite.

'This book deals with popular Orthodoxy during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods, approaching the material from a historical and anthropological perspective. The discussion takes as its starting point a letter of Leo Allatios, the seventeenth-century author and scriptor of the Vatican Library. The early chapters of the book focus on Allatios and the western intellectual background in which the work was written, while later chapters consider popular beliefs and practices surrounding childstealing demons, revenants, spirits of place and popular healing.
This book provides the first detailed treatment of a major source for post Byzantine popular Orthodoxy, offering valuable insights into the relationships between laity and clergy, Orthodoxy and Catholicism, religion and natural philosophy during the seventeenth century.'

The letter is the De Graecorum hodie quorandorum opinationibus by Leo Allatios (Leone Allacci) mentioned in several books on vampires and Greek revenants.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


I have added a link in the right hand column for those who are interesting in subscribing to comments. As people sometimes comment on pretty old posts, you may actually miss an interesting comment once in a while if you do not subscribe.

Furthermore, as I received a request to announce blog posts on Twitter, as an experiment I have done so. It is just an automatic service, as I doubt that I would be able to endure using that site manually.

Monday, 13 July 2009

1725 and 1740?!

It looks like someone found the illustration to one of my earlier posts useful, as I am pretty sure it is the one that has turned up in the curious video below...

Prefect of the Court Library

While in Vienna I revisited the 'home' of the above fellow, the bust of good old Gerard van Swieten in the Prunksaal (State Hall) of the Austrian National Library. Van Swieten was prefect of the Court Library from 1745 to 1772, and according to the museum guide, 'utilizing his contacts with booksellers in Paris, Venice and Leiden, he amassed a collection of contemporary scientific literature from across Western Europe.'

The hall itself was constructed by order of Charles VI whose statue is close to van Swieten's bust in the hall. It was built and decorated at the time of the famous Serbian cases, that is from 1723-30. In those days it housed the entire collection of the Court Library and was actually open to the public. In 1738 the Bibliotheca Eugeniana, the library of Prince Eugene of Savoy was purchased by the Emperor and installed in the hall.

Nowadays the hall is used for the National Library's exhibitions, the current concerning early geographical approaches to other continents.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Paperback Del Rio

Although not quite a full translation of Martin Del Rio's famous and influential Disquisitionum magicarum libri sex from around 1600, this is the closest one comes in English. Book 2 is probably the one of most interest to those interested in magia posthuma and vampires, and if Maxwell-Stuart's text does not suffice, an original edition in Latin is available on Gallica. Originally published in hardback in 2000, a paperback edition should now be available from Manchester University Press for £16.99.

Some notes on the Conference on Vampirism and Magia Posthuma

So, finally, here are the notes on the conference on vampirism and magia posthuma in the discourse of the Habsburg monarchy in the 18th and 19th centuries I have promised you. As it is always difficult to provide a detailed account of the presentations at a conference, so I will simply highlight the themes and theories presented.

First of all, I would once again like to thank the organizers, Ursula Reber and Christoph Augustynowicz, for making the conference possible and for inviting me! It was an extraordinary experience to spend three days in the company of people who share this peculiar interest and who can speak with familiarity of Frombald, Glaser and Flückinger.

Held at the Institute for East European History which is located in the buildings of the former Alte Allgemeine Krankhaus (AKH) that now house the Viennese Unicampus, we were close to the Josephinum and Van Swieten Gasse. In fact, right outside the windows of the auditorium we could see the Narrenturm. All in all I think that around fifty people participated with a nucleus of some 25 participants, many of whom presented papers during the conference in sunny and hot Vienna.

The conference started on the evening of Thursday 2 July, when Christoph Augustynowicz, Ursula Reber and the head of the institute bid us welcome. I then spoke for about an hour about this blog: Why I started the blog, my approach to vampires, my search for the book Magia Posthuma, the blog itself, its visitors and the feedback I have received. I finished my talk with some information about von Schertz’s Magia Posthuma. The evening ended with a reception and a copious supply of food, beer and wine.

Next day Peter Mario Kreuter, author of Der Vampirglaube in Südosteuropa and currently at the Südost-Institute in Regensburg, compared the state of the interest in vampires to that of the unscientific attitude towards witch research until 1970s. He recommended that researchers should examine the original documents at the Hofkammerarchiv in Vienna. As for the use of the word vampire in the documents, he interpreted the differences in the use of the word from Frombald’s 1725 document (unfortunately only known in a copy) to Flückinger’s 1732 Visum et Repertum, and posed the theory that the term 'Vampyr' must have become well-known in the years following 1725, but that the cases of vampirism in the intermediate years apparently have not been documented.

The 18th century documents on vampires were also the focus of Christian Reiter, professor extraordinarius in forensic medicine, as he delivered an analysis of the Visum et Repertum from the point of view of forensic medicine. He convincingly argued that the epidemic in Medvedja in 1731-32 was caused by anthrax. Furthermore he concluded that Flückinger and co. had falsified their report concerning the corpses not in a ‘vampire state’ with the intent of obtaining remuneration for their examination of the corpses. Clearly a number of the participants wanted to exonerate Flückinger of this charge, but was unable to oppose the theory, so no doubt Reiter’s paper will be closely studied when published.

Another kind of documentation that is often taken as evidence of vampire beliefs are archaeological finds of human remains that appears to have been treated to prevent the deceased to harm the living. Author of Blutspuren: Die Geschichte der Vampire, Hagen Schaub, presented his thoughts on these finds, including the recent excavation in Venice. Overall his analysis left little or no positive evidence that any of these archaeological finds convincingly can be taken as proof of beliefs in vampires or similar revenants. Some of the interpretations of the archaeological evidence are just far too fantastic, and alternative explanations can not be ruled out. The verdict did not seem to surprise to anyone, but it was nice to hear a clear presentation of the various founds and the theories that are frequently claimed to support them as evidence of vampire beliefs.

The interpretation of human corpses were also the topic of Marco Frenschowski, protestant theologian and associate professor with an impressive knowledge of vampires and related subjects, as he spoke on various notions concerning incorruptibility, in particular from the point of view of various Christian churches, and their relation to ‘living corpses’.

As for other aspects of vampire beliefs, Christa Tuczay, lecturer and associate professor at the Institute for German Studies in Vienna as well as author of several books including this one, discussed various examples of nightmare entities, e.g. in the works of Philostratus, Füssli and Sacher-Masoch, and how they were perceived throughout particularly the 19th century. In the following discussion, Christian Reiter mentioned that the experiences related by victims of the “alptraum” could be explained as an asthmatic attack. Hans Richard Brittnacher should have talked on blood magic, but was unfortunately unable to attend.

The development of vampire or vampire related cases and tales, as well as of the term vampire, was the topic of several papers.

Clemens Ruthner, lecturer at Trinity College in Dublin, discussed Herbert Mayo’s fictionalization of Flückinger’s Visum et Repertum with an emphasis on the literary aspects of the version.

Thomas M. Bohn, professor in History of Eastern and Middle Europe at the University of Regensburg, in detail traced the interesting development of the original 1718 posthumous execution of Michael Kasparek in Lubló in present day Slovakia into various tales and interpretations, including that of a vampire ('ein Vorläufer der Serbischen Vampyrs, und von allen das abenteuerlichste dieser Spuckgespenster' according to in Georg Conrad Horst in his Zauber-Bibliothek). Apparently the story of Michael Kasparek has even inspired a Czecko-Slovak movie, Kisertet Lublon (1976).

Christoph Augustynowicz, professor extraordinarius at the University of Vienna, discussed the portrayal of vampires by Sacher-Masoch, Karl Emil Franzos and Bertha Pappenheim in the 19th century, and the views of Jews in Galicia in these texts.

Karin Barton, associate professor at Laurier University in Canada, is particularly interested in insects and their role in cultural history and literature, currently with emphasis on the flea. She presented a paper on The Habsburg Flea: Notes on the Cultural and Literary History of an Insect Vampire with numerous examples of how the flea has been presented in various media, including some that related it to vampires. Remarkably, she presented a source from 1866 that mentions the word 'nosferatu', a term otherwise usually perceived as constructed by Emily Gerard in her Transsylvanian Superstitions from 1885!

Ursula Reber spoke on Klaus Hamberger’s original thesis on vampires, and on Michel SerresLa Légende des Anges. Apparently Hamberger, author of the seminal collection of source material Mortuus non mordet: Vampirismus 1689-1791 (1992), in his voluminous thesis wrote in a now obsolete discourse that makes it rather difficult to read today. The organizers had actually tried to contact Hamberger to invite him to the conference, but without being able to localize him. He probably is no longer interested in the subject, but there was a general consensus that a reprint of Mortuus non mordet is long overdue. (I was by the way relieved to find during the conference that I am not the only one who has had difficulty in reading volume 2 of Hamberger’s work on vampires: Über Vampirismus: Krankengeschichte und Deutungsmuster 1801-1899).

Sigrid Janisch, Ph.D. student in Vienna, talked about various definitions of vampires from 18th and 19th century encyclopedias, the subject of her Ph.D. work, and Bernhard Unterholzner, Master student in Munich, traced the vampire debates from 1732 and onwards.

Another aspect of the topic brought vampire beliefs into our present day as we were presented with two different kinds of field work on Balkan. Assistant professor for languages and cultures of the Balkan region, Thede Kahl, talked about his field work in Albania and Northern Greece, where he got about 200 tales about vampires, revenants and other entities. He discussed the various types and divided the tales into five narrative categories depending on how the narrator referred to a belief in vampires. The interesting findings will be published later this year.

Whereas the work of Kahl is that of an outsider investigating vampires in areas of Balkan, Vlado Vlacic, a student from Munich, has carried out his field work in the parts of Bosnia where he himself grew up. So Vlacic actually has first hand experience of vampire beliefs from his native community. He struggled somewhat with presenting the beliefs and their framework to us outsiders, as he apparently found it hard to put into words and terms the ‘silent’ knowledge he has grown up with. I think that many of us who were present hope that he overcomes his frustrations and keeps working on how to communicate to us the concrete vampire beliefs of Bosnia.

Obviously the conference touched upon various aspects of the subject, all of which contribute to a better understanding of vampire beliefs, their history and reception, as well as the development of the concept of a vampire into a metaphor and a fictional character that can be used for almost any purpose. For a detailed insight into the topics presented you must wait until the papers are published on the Kakanien Revisited web site. The plan is, however, that they will ultimately be published as a regular book.

Considering e.g. Stephanie Meyer’s current bestselling books, it is amazing that a topic that is so ‘hot’ in the popular media, attracts only a relatively limited number of scholars. Peter Mario Kreuter told us about an attempt at making a TV documentary series that presented the actual historical facts on vampires and other matters. Unfortunately, no one was willing to support the project, as you apparently have to compromise historical facts to highlight fictional vampires if you want to get in the media!

Originally Kreuter himself had to win money in a quiz show to be able to finance the publication of his book on vampires. Publishers apparently are not queuing up to publish this kind of book, but fortunately he is currently working on an updated edition of his book which will be published in English!

If we accept the parallel to witch research, we may hope that the research into vampires and other revenants will follow a route similar to that of witch research within the next couple of decades. The papers from this conference should contribute to that, and I hope that this blog in some way can also contribute to this end. Before the end of the conference there was some slight discussion of a future conference, and hopefully it will be possible to arrange one in a not too distant future!

I thank participants for good company and support, as well as for interesting presentations discussions. The conference also allowed me to visit a Heuriger with traditional food and wine on the outskirts of Vienna. And most curiously, I found out that Peter Mario Kreuter speaks Danish, so to my surprise I found myself talking in my native tongue a few times with this German authority on vampires!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Vampires found...

You will have to bear with me, as I have simply yet to find the time to write at more length on the conference in Vienna. In the meantime I may mention a magazine and a book that I found on my trip.

At the airport I stumbled on a special issue on vampires of the UK magazine SFX. It was pretty expensive as the Danish price is more than twice that of the original price (£7.99), but I thought I had better buy it now that I was on my way to spend a few days about vampires anyway :-)

The special issue comes with a poster, a set of Buffy coasters (!) and a book containing Le Fanu's Carmilla and Polidori's The Vampyre. The magazine itself contains mostly articles about vampire movies and TV series like True Blood and Twilight, but also Hammer's Dracula movies area featured, including a special on the making of The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. In a 'Top 50' of the greatest screen vampires of all time, Christopher Lee's count is only no 2, as one of the vampires (Spike) from the Buffy series is voted no 1 by readers of the magazine! There is even an interview with Elizabeth Miller on the genesis of Bram Stoker's Dracula, unfortunately marred by the interviewer's lack of knowledge of Austrian geography, as it is claimed that: 'Originally he was going to have the Count come from Astoria, not Transylvania.' In short, if you are into recent vampire fiction, you will probably find this magazine pretty entertaining.

Slightly more information on vampire beliefs can be found in a new coffee table book that I bought in Vienna: Transsylvanien im Reich von Dracula by Gerald Axelrod, appropriately printed in Leipzig. The major asset of this book is a large number of remarkably gloomy photos from various places in Romania, as the text itself probably will not surprise those familiar with the subject: A biography of Vlad Tepes, a relatively short chapter on Balkan vampire beliefs and a similarly short biography of Bram Stoker with emphasis on the origins of Dracula. At the end of the book a map of South Eastern Europe even has Medwegya marked in the mid 15th century. The short list of recommended reading mentions just two books on vampire beliefs, but certainly also two of the best books written on the subject: Peter Mario Kreuter's Der Vampirglaube in Südosteuropa, and Klaus Hamberger's Mortuus non mordet.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Back and online...

I am now back from Vienna and I am online for the first time since I left. Within the next couple of days I will write some notes about what happened, but for now I would like to just mention that the so-called Amateur Vampirologist has listed a number of new books on vampires in a comment here, so have a look. As yet I have only seen the list, and I confess that I am pretty sceptical about most of the titles, but I am grateful that this 'Amateur Vampirologist' has shared the list.
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