Last Sunday, I was reading Manly Wade Wellman's "The Last Grave of Lill Warran" in Peter Haining's anthology, The Vampire Hunters' Casebook (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997), when I was struck by an intriguing reference within the text.
The hero of the story, John Thunstone, pens a letter to his colleague, well-known French occult detective, Jules de Grandin, about a case he had been investigating. It was this particular passage that caught my attention (which contains spoilers, so look away if you want to read the story):
If Lill Warran was a werewolf, and killed in her werewolf shape, it follows as a commonplace that she became a vampire after death. You can read as much in Montague Summers, as well as the work of your countryman, Cyprien Robert (188).No doubt many of those with even a passing interest in vampire scholarship would surely have heard of Montague Summers. Even though he only wrote two book-length studies on vampirism (The Vampire: His Kith and Kin, 1928 and The Vampire in Europe, 1929), his shadow looms long and large over the field.
But who was this Cyprien Robert character?
At first, I thought he might've been a fictional creation. Mainly because in all my studies, I couldn't recall his name in association with vampire scholarship. I also thought it could have been a cross-narrative in-joke: after all, as mentioned, Thunstone writes to de Grandin, who happens to be a creation of fellow Weird Tales writer, Seabury Quinn.
Wellman's story, incidentally, was first published in Weird Tales' May 1951 issue.
H.P. Lovecraft, another famous contributor to Weird Tales, and his correspondents would also engage in this form of inter-narrative play. Here's an example from Robert Bloch's Wikipedia entry:
Bloch's early stories were strongly influenced by Lovecraft. Indeed, a number of his stories were set in, and extended, the world of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. It was Bloch who invented, for example, the oft-cited Mythos texts De Vermis Mysteriis and Cultes des Goules.Lovecraft also combined fictional works with real ones in several of his stories.
Anyhoo, I resolved to solve this matter by using the scholar's friend: Google! I typed in "Cyprien Robert" and "vampire" and the second entry was a major step in giving the game away:
The second entry is a facsimile reprint of Summers' The Vampire in Europe. Sure enough, the text cites Robert:
Again in his Les Slaves de Turquie Cyprien Robert describes the vrykolakes of Thessaly and Epirus thus: "These are living men mastered by a kind of somnabulism, who seized by a thirst for blood go forth at night from their shepherd's-huts, and scour the country biting and tearing all that they meet both man and beast." (218-19)The first entry you see, is an article by Martin V. Riccardo called "Vampires as Sleepwalkers". Here's what he has to say about Robert:
Cyprien Robert, a writer and researcher in the 19th century, was given descriptions of vrykolakes in Thessaly and Epirus, regions of Greece. From what he heard of these vampires he wrote, "These are living men mastered by a kind of somnambulism, who seized by a thirst for blood go forth at night from their shepherd's huts, and scour the country biting and tearing all that they meet both man and beast." Somnambulism is another word for sleepwalking.Obviously, Summers is the common thread.
However, Summers himself appears to have been a tad derivative. Here's a passage from a facsimile reprint of John Cuthbert Lawson's Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion: A Study in Survivals, originally published in 1910:
The other authority is Cyprien Robert, who describes the vrykolakes of Thessaly and Epirus thus: 'These are living men mastered by a kind of somnabulism, who seized by a thirst for blood go forth at night from their shepherd's-huts, and scour the country biting and tearing all that they meet both man and beast.' (379)Summers acknowledges his debt to Lawson's work in his "Introduction" to The Vampire: His Kith and Kin.
But, back to Robert.
The work Summers and Lawson cite was published in Paris in 1844. Thanks to the magic of Google Book Search, it can be read here.
I haven't been able to turn up much on the author himself, except that he was born in 1807 and that he published a bunch of works - not on vampires - but on Slavs. So, far from being a "vampire expert", I'd say the vampire crossed into his ethnographic studies, as part of his coverage on Slavic folklore.
Thus, I'm inclined to believe that Wellman came across mentions of Robert in Summers writings and seamlessly blended him in.
Nonetheless, it also reveals that Robert could be a very interesting source for vampire studies...