Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hats Off to Erwin

I was rather pleased to see a comment left on one of my posts, recently.

Although, I was a tad alarmed at the message itself:
It seems that the picture a woman killing herself by being crushed by her husband's tombstone. That's what the caption says in Dutch.
See: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kintzertorium/3090689838/
Taken out of context (and keeping in mind, that I didn't immediately see which post it had been submitted to, before approving it for publication), it seemed irrelevant to this blog.

That is, until I viewed the link. For curiousity's sake, of course.

And boy, did that pay off!

The link in question leads to a certain image dealt with in "Bad Captions" and "A Note on Bad Captions". Except, it appears to be a scan of the original image!

You might remember that in Frayling's book, a reproduction of the image was captioned:
A vampire rises from the grave, illustrating an early eighteenth century treatise on the undead.
Fortunately, the owner of the Flickr account (Kintzertorium) has retained the original's caption, which appears to read:
BIANCA RUBEA, Gemalinne van BAPTISTA Á PORTA Verplenert zig met de Graf zark van haar Man.
A commentator on the image, by the name of groenling, has even translated the caption into English:
"BIANCA RUBEA [her maiden name, I assume], wife of BAPTISTA Á PORTA / crushes herself with the tombstone of her husband."
At this point, I think it's fairly safe to say that the image does not depict a vampire.

The question is, who's responsible for mislabeling it in that manner?

The author? The publisher? The designer?

Now that'll be interesting to find out...

Oh, and Erwin, if you're reading: I really appreciated that link! Much appreciated indeed!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Beware Catchpenny Titles!"

Jacqueline Simpson's review (Folklore 111.1, April 2000: pp. 140-141) of Pëtr Bogatyrëv's Vampires in the Carpathians: Magical Acts, Rites, and Beliefs in Subcarpathian Rus’ (Translated by Stephen Reynolds and Patricia A. Krafcik. East European Monographs, No. CDXCII. New York: East European Monographs: Distributed by Columbia University Press, 1998) hits the nail on the head. In discussing the book's actual vampire content, she writes:
Beware catchpenny titles! The reader seeking vampires will eventually learn (pp. 119-20) that one can prevent their visits by strewing poppy seeds or by putting wood shavings and thorns in the coffin, and destroy them by decapitation; on pp. 132-3 he or she will encounter the opyr in rather unfamiliar guise, as a demonic being which scares horses at pasture, or lives beside water and tries to drown people. (p. 140)

To be fair on the late
Bogatyrëv (1893-1971), the book's title wasn't his original choice, as Simpson goes on to note:
But the subtitle which renders the original title is a far truer indicator of this excellent book's contents; it begins with a long, systematic analysis of the principles underlying magical actions and verbal formulas, picking out the omens, divinations, and luck-enhancing actions prescribed for each date or event. (p. 140)

East European Monographs isn't the only publisher guilty of such deceptive titling. After alll, a similar tactic has been applied to Forests of the Vampire: Slavic Myth (Myth and Mankind, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2003).

Its index gives away how much coverage the "Vampire" of the title actually gets:
vampires, 94-99; kikimora and, 92, 93; in literature and film, 135-36 (p.143)

Then we have books which admittedly do contain a greater amount of vampire material, but inexplicably re-title the author's original work.

Take Dover Publications' The Vampire in Lore and Legend (2001) and Vampires and Vampirism (2005), both works authored by Montague Summers.

In his lifetime, Summers (1880-1948) never published any works under these names.

The first book is actually a retitling of The Vampire in Europe (1929) and the second is a retitling of The Vampire: His Kith and Kin (1928).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

From Bibliography to Blogs

Some of you may be familiar with Patricia Altner's excellent Vampire Readings: An Annotated Bibliography (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1998).

But did you also know she has her own blog?

Feel free to check out Patricia's Vampire Notes, in which she writes her "musings on vampires and various other fictional, paranormal critters."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Remnants of the VRI

This is what's left of the webpage of the former Vampirism Research Institute (VRI), founded by Liriel McMahon. Such is the fate of many organisations founded in the name of vampire fandom and research.

The page was last updated on "September 14th 2003".

The site in question has a couple of dead links. So, don't bother trying to access McMahon's "Looking at Mirrors and Vampires" (c. Nov. 10 1997) or "Vampire as Path to Meaning" (c. Nov 9th 1997) articles.

However, you should still be able to read the "Fan Survey Report #9221" (circa 1993), Craig Anderson's "Vampires and Evil" (c. November 14th 1998) and "The VRI Booklist - by Author" (Mod. Oct 23rg 1998).

Friday, September 5, 2008

Paranormal Archaeology

The author of In Small Things Found, ahtzib, bills himself as an

Archaeologist with a semi-professional interest in the anthropology of the paranormal. I try to keep you up on the culture of the unknown and mysterious.

This fusion proves interesting to fellow vampire researchers, with blog entries like "Vampire Archaeology".

Not only is it well-researched and cited, but also includes links to other articles of interest. 

Go check it out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Label Culling

I probably went a bit overboard in providing book/story titles as labels for several of my blogs, so I'll stick to using the author's name instead.

Thus, no more "A Week in the Unlife" for "Journal of a Vampire Hunter".

No more "The Vampyre: Lord Byron to Count Dracula" for "Bad Captions" and "A Note on Bad Captions". No more "Le Vampire: La Mort le Sang la Peur" for the same two entries.

And "Vampires of the Slavs" for "Two Recent Purchases" is gone.
There could be more such revision at a later time, so stay tuned!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dracula in World War 2

James Twitchell briefly discusses Richard Wasson's article, "The Politics of Dracula" (1966), in The Living Dead: A Study of the Vampire in Romantic Literature (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1981).

Twitchell sums up Wasson's critical reading of Bram Stoker's Dracula as "a parable of Old Central Europe destroying New Western Europe." (p. 139)

One item that caught my attention, however, was the issuing of Stoker's book during wartime:

Wasson's article is a critical tour de force, made perhaps risible by his contention that if such a reading were not true, how could we explain the fact that the United States army issued free copies of the book during World War 2? (p. 139)

I delved into this matter a bit, and came across an article by James Dourgarian called "Armed Services Editions", which has been reprinted on the Antiquarian Booksellers of America Association (ABBA) website. It discusses the United States Army's dissemination of paperbacks to its troops on the European and Pacific fronts. It notes that Dracula was published in two series: "No. L-25, 1944, and No. 851, 1945".

The ABBA website has a copy of one of these Armed Services Editions for sale. Its description reads thusly:

Going by Dourgarian's article we can establish that a) that the book is a second edition and b) that its publication date is actually 1945, not "circa 1944".

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Two Recent Purchases

One of the greatest boons for vampire research is eBay.

Items of interest are generally available for low prices - barring currency exchange rates and shipping costs.

Here are a couple of recent items I managed to score:

Clive Leatherdale's Dracula: The Novel & the Legend: A Study of Bram Stoker's Gothic Masterpiece (The Leisure Circle, 1985) arrived on August 5th.

I'm not big on Dracula scholarship, but Leatherdale has some interesting things to say on the development of the Vampire Myth.

Jan L. Perkowski's Vampires of the Slavs (Cambridge, Mass.: Slavica Publishers, Inc., 1976) arrived today.

This is the paperback version. I've previously borrowed a hardback copy - but, in hindsight, that may have been a library hardback edition.

Certainly one of the most influential vampire anthologies, it's also not cheap to come by: some copies can sell up to $295 onwards. I was lucky enough to win this one for significantly less.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vampire Journals on the Internet

In 1996, Benjamin H. LeBlanc published the first issue of the Internet Vampire Tribune Quarterly: De Natura Haeretica's Electronic Journal of Vampire Studies.

It's certainly the earliest example of an internet vampire journal that I've come across. I'm sure earlier attempts were made, however.

An obvious standout of the issue is its feature story, "The Anathematic Vampire: Concepts of Matter and Spirit in Orthodoxy, Dualism and Pre-Christian Slavic Mythology".

It written by Bruce McClelland.

Ten years later, he became the author of the first book on vampire hunters, Slayers and Their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead (
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006).

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Note on Bad Captions

I know it seems much ado about nothing, but I'm delving into this matter further. But the way I see it, it's the bricks that make the house.

In the previous installment of this saga, I talked about a seeming discrepancy regarding a caption for a picture found in Christopher Frayling's Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula (London: Faber and Faber, 1992).

The book that seems to have inspired its inclusion in Frayling's book, was Ornella Volta's French book,
Le Vampire: La Mort, le Sang, la Peur (Paris: Jean-Jaques Pauvert Éditeur, 1962). I also quoted Frayling's "Bibliography and Acknowledgments" to this effect.

However, some eagle-eyed readers might have noticed that the quote that I gave seems to refer to an Italian edition:

On the erotic angle, Ornella Volta's Il Vampiro (1962) is interesting (if a little strange at times) and has some extraordinary illustrations (p. 424)

There was an Italian edition by this name. However, it wasn't published until 1964. See: "Il Vampiro", Il Catafalco - L'avello dei vampiri.

This leaves us with two possibilities: either Frayling got the date of the book wrong or he got the name of the book wrong. Unfortunately, we have little to go on, because Frayling's "Bibliography..." is surprisingly bereft of bibliographic detail. I'm reminded of the atrocious (though not to put Frayling in the same league) bibliography featured in Dudley Wright's famous work, Vampires and Vampirism (1914; 2nd edn. 1924).

Even Montague Summers was moved to comment on it in his "Introduction" to The Vampire: His Kith and Kin (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1928):

In the Bibliography we have such entries as "Leo Allatius," "Encyclopaedia Britannica" ; "Frazer's Golden Bough," "Nider's Formicarius," "Phlegon's Fragments," "William of Newbury," all of which are not merely unscholarly and slovenly, but entirely useless from the point of view of reference. (p. xii)

Couldn't agree more.

That said, Frayling's book (and yes, his Bibliography too) certainly make a compelling read. In fact, it might even surprise you to know that it's one of my favourite works on vampires.

That doesn't mean it should be spared from criticism, of course. Indeed, Frayling has no qualms dishing it out himself in the same book:

On vampirism in general Montague Summers's two books, The Vampire: His Kith and Kin (1928) and The Vampire in Europe (1929), and Dudley Wright's Vampires and Vampires (1914) are unreliable and have for too long been treated as gospel. (p. 424)

This fuss about captions also has a deeper undercurrent.

You see, finding 18th century images depicting vampires is quite a difficult task. In fact, I haven't been able to find any such image, thus far. It's possible that vampires were never depicted in that era, via illustration.

Therefore, it's a blight on academic pursuits into the field to misrepresent pictures in such a way.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bringing in the Sheaves

In "Bad Captions", I mentioned a visit to Monash University Library.

What I didn't mention, however, is
why I was there!

That should be obvious, either way. But, for the record, I was looking for some research materials!

I got quite the bounty too.

From left to right: 1) the Charles Grivel-edited
Dracula: De la mort à la vie
(Paris : Editions de l’Herne, 1997), 2) James B. Twitchell's The Living Dead: A Study of the Vampire in Romantic Literature (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1981), 3) the Julie Bertschik/Christa Agnes Tuczay-edited Poetische Wiedergänger: Deutschsprachige Vampirismus-Diskurse vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart (Tübingen : Francke/Verlag, 2005), 4) Martin V. Riccardo's Vampires Unearthed: The Complete Multimedia Vampire & Dracula Bibliography (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1983), 5) the Christopher Frayling-edited The Vampyre: Lord Ruthven to Count Dracula (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1978), 6) & 7) Volumes 1 and 2 of James Malcolm Rymer or Thomas Peckett Prest's Varney the Vampyre or The Feast of Blood (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1972) and 8) the Dieter Sturm und Klaus Völker-edited Von denen Vampiren oder Menschensaugern: Dichtungen und Dokumente (München: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1968).

On top of that, I also had a browse through Dudley Wright's Vampires and Vampirism (London: William Rider and Son, Limited, 1914),
photocopied a particular section of Jessie Adelaide Middleton's Another Grey Ghost Book: With a Chapter on Prophetic Dreams and a Note on Vampires (London: Eveleigh Nash, 1915) and leafed through Ornella Volta's Le Vampire: La Mort, le Sang, la Peur (Paris: Jean-Jaques Pauvert Éditeur, 1962). All in the Rare Books Collection reading room.

Just a day in the life, really.

Word Gets Around

It's only been up a couple of days, but word on my blog is already getting 'round.

Niels K. Petersen gives it a brief write-up in
"Blogging: The Living, the Dead, and the Undead" (Magia Posthuma) and Andrew M. Boylan features my blog as an "External Link" on Taliesin Meets the Vampires.


You might remember that I cited both these guys as influences on this blog in my first post, so to get coverage on their respective pages, is truly an honour.

Bad Captions

Yesterday, I was in the Rare Books Collection reading room at Monash University Library (Clayton), having a browse through Ornella Volta's Le Vampire: La Mort, le Sang, la Peur (Paris: Jean-Jaques Pauvert Éditeur, 1962).

When I came to page 26, I noticed a picture I had seen elsewhere.

I immediately thought of a plate (3) in Christopher Frayling's Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula (London: Faber and Faber, 1992).

The difference, however, is in the way they're captioned.

In Volta's book, the image is credited thusly:

Jan Luiken : Bianca Rubea, 1711.
Coll. Henry Kahnweiler

Meanwhile, Frayling's version reads:

A vampire rises from the grave, illustrating an early eighteenth century treatise on the undead.

And sure enough, if we turn to Frayling's "Bibliography and Acknowledgements", we get a reference to a certain source consulted for his book:

On the erotic angle, Ornella Volta's Il Vampiro (1962) is interesting (if a little strange at times) and has some extraordinary illustrations (p. 424)

However, the riddle doesn't quite end there.

I thought it'd be easy to trace Bianca Rubea as a novel. Thus far, I haven't been able to trace anything by that name.

I've been able to track down Luiken (or Luyken, 1649-1712) easily enough, though. Turns out he was a Dutch engraver. But the only books I've been able to turn up, that fit the year Volta's caption gives (1711), are: De bykorf des gemoeds and Het leerzaam huisraad.[1]

Rest assured, these are
not treatises of the "undead". Indeed, Luiken never illustrated any such treatise.

Looks like Faber and Faber and Frayling tried to pull the wool over our eyes!

[1] "Jan Luyken". DBNL auteur. 1 August 2008.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Journal of a Vampire Hunter

Ever wondered what a blog that reads like a cross between David J. Schow's "A Week in the Unlife" (1991) and John Carpenter's Vampires (1998) would be like?

Well, wonder no further!

I present you with Dagmar Krauss, Vampyr Hunter!

Its "About Me" gives the lowdown:

I am a vampyr hunter. Trust me; it sounds a lot cooler than it really is.

I have decided to keep this blog because, well, dusty diaries are passé.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated for a while. Its most recent entry, "Disavowed?", begins with an ominous message from our hero:

Well, I haven't heard from the Guild in weeks, and I'd like to know what the fuck is going on. Last communication I had from them was right before they stuck me in the fucking hospital. I've still got my phone, and it still works, so they haven't cut me off completely yet, but they did leave me stuck with the hospital bill.

Read it with a pinch of salt.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No Need for Clicks

My previous entry gave mention to Andrew M. Boylan's blog, Taliesin Meets the Vampires.

But did you know it's also available in hardcopy?

Andrew broke the news in "Taliesin Meets the Vampires - Volume 1":

The blog as a book! Announcing the collected words from the blog, spanning the period March 5th 2006 up until 20th January 2007.

It's currently selling for US $29.02 from Lulu. Do yourself a favour, and buy a copy today!

Just a Quick One

Welcome to the inaugural "diary" entry of an amateur vampirologist!

I'll go into that title a bit more, at a later time.

But for now, I can tell you that the purpose of this blog is to share my thoughts and resources on things vampiric. It was largely inspired by Niels K. Petersen's brilliant Magia Posthuma, Andrew M. Boylan's comprehensive Taliesin Meets the Vampires, Curt Purcell's wonderful The Groovy Age of Horror and the layout of The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire.

I highly recommend you give each one a read.
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