Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years' Wishes

Wishing all my readers a safe and joyous New Year as we move on from the Noughties and into...the Noughteens!

Thanks for your comments, contributions and correspondence. As I've said before, couldn't do it without ya!

And remember kids, if you're gonna have a night out on the tiles, drink responsibly.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Q & A Sessions

Last night, I joined WikiAnswers, which bills itself as the "world's leading Q & A site".

The concept of the site is quite simple: users ask questions on various topics and other users attempt to answer them.

Obviously, my focus has been on the vampire side of things. You can read my contributions here.

I'll cite one such example: a user asked "Did Edgar Allan Poe have vampires in his stories?" To which, I replied:
Not in the traditional sense of the term, but a few of his stories did feature vampiric overtones. These include "Berenice" (1835), "Ligeia" (1838), "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839) and "The Oval Portrait" (1842).

A few of these are collected in the anthology, Dead Brides: Vampire Tales (1999).

Manly Wade Wellman featured Poe as a character in his short vampire story, "When It Was Moonlight" (1940).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Vampirologists on YouTube

Vampirologists don't get much coverage on YouTube for some reason.

In fact, as of this writing, there are only two clips featuring them (at least ones that specifically include the term "vampirologist").

The first is an episode of German game show, Sag die Wahrheit. The panelists have to decide which of the three guests is vampire expert, Hans Meurer.

The second clip features Brazilian, Teodore Stille, billed as "probably todays most important scholar in vampirology on the world." I am somewhat skeptical of this claim.

A search for his name on Google only turns up 8 references to his name - and they're all connected to this clip. The bio accompanying the video also seems a tad suspect:
He was born in upstate Rio de Janeiro, he was raised and spent his teenage years in Romenia, where he begun his education in vampirology. Dr. Stille graduated at Bucarovia University and earned his Ph.D. at the most important vampirology academy in Brasilia, Brazil. Dr. Teodoro Stille travels around the world doing speeches and workshops.
Surely, a vampire scholar of this calibre would have wider representation on the 'net?

Meurer's "credentials" on the other hand, are much more easily verified. He is the author of several works concerning the undead.

In the Wake of New Moon

Here's a few letters from the mX (Melbourne) concerning the Twilight phenomena.

New Mooner
writes ("In the Twilight of Their Opinion", Monday November 23, 2009, p. 24):
Anna Brain (For What It's Worth, mX, Thu) [Brain is one of the paper's pop culture columnists -ed.], a negative review of New Moon? How unoriginal. People of all ages have a real love affair with these books and movies. Surely you felt the atmosphere of opening night? Millions of people can't be wrong...right?
However, G doesn't share this sentiment ("For Real",
Monday November 23, 2009, p. 24):
Anna Brain, at last someone who's read and seen Twilight and sees it for what it is. What I also find scary is how some girls might end up in abusive relationships and not do anything about it, because it's what Edward does.
It's also caused some frustration for David ("Twi Not", Monday November 23, 2009, p. 24):
Anyone would think that Twilight New Moon was the second coming of Jesus. If I hear one more thing about it, I'll murder someone. Who cares?
And lastly, B. Stoker chimes in with his two cents ("Gurgling", Friday November 27, 2009, p. 19):
Tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, climate change, Twilight movie and its fans - the world really is going down the drain.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cyprien Robert and the Montague Summers Connection

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...

Bane's Encyclopedia Cover Revealed!

Sometime ago, I wrote about Theresa Bane's upcoming vampire encyclopedia.

She's posted an update about it on her blog, along with its cover, which, I gotta say, looks pretty spiffy.

It's called Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology, but we'll have to wait a while for it. According to Bane, it's due for release in "June in 2010 as a 7×10 hardback and as an e-book download."

You can pre-order it now, if you like. That is, if you happen to have a spare US$75 lying around.
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