Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breathing Life into Romanian Folklore

As I previously mentioned, Justin Blair, one of the directors of Across the Forest (2009), sent me a copy of his documentary for review. I finally settled in to watch it yesterday, armed with my trusty Presstick exercise book, for note-taking purposes.

Across the Forest's DVD cover (Courtesy of Andrew M. Boylan)

The first thing that struck me about the film, was no title menu. It just leaped straight into the flick. So, don't expect any special features with this one, folks.

We begin with a middle-aged man recounting the story of a mysterious wolf (said to be "a strigoi"), which turns out to bookend the film. The strigoi are frequently said to be Romanian vampires; one blogger even goes so far as to say "the word for vampire in Romanian is strigoi". No, it's not.

The word for vampire in Romanian is (wait for it), vampir. Meanwhile, strigoi translates as "ghost" or "specter". However, as becomes readily apparent, it shares many characteristics with the revenant.

These characteristics are notable in the next account, an old man who claims he was "haunted" (he actually uses that term) for nearly three years, by a strigoi that lived in a mulberry tree,
"crying like a mother who lost a child". The interesting thing is, the dispassionate reference to "a strigoi", when, it turns out the strigoi was actually a relative. We only find this out when the old man is prompted off-camera ("The strigoi was your father-in-law?").

His narrative seems disjointed: when asked if he was scared of it, he said no, and would go to look for it in his attic. What spurred him into doing this if it lived in a mulberry tree?

The spectral qualities of the strigoi are evident again, when he says he would turn on the light, and it'd disappear, only to start howling.

He went to priests for help, "but they failed in their work". This motif is found in the ninth chapter of David Keyworth's Troublesome Corpses: Vampires & Revenants, from Antiquity to the Present (Southend-on-Sea, Essex: Desert Island Books, 2007).

The way the old man handles the situation invokes heresy, cynicism, folkloric practicality and resourcefulness:

"Playing both sides?" asks the interviewer. "What else can you do? Nothing," the old man says.

And here we play on the revenant angle again, when he mentions that the strigoi was dressed in its burial clothes.

When asked if others believe "this", he said, "Others say they don't believe, but even the priests know these things happen." He was asked if his neighbors believe in such things. He says, "Without experiences people don't believe." He goes onto emphasise just what kind of beings these strigoi are: "But spirits do return, and Satan
can come back disguised as the dead."

The next account, by an old woman, discusses the events that converted her from being a skeptic to becoming involved in dispatching an alleged strigoi with the help of its nephew.

The ensuing stories (not all of them about strigoi) range from personal accounts to friend-of-a-friend stories. But what remains consistent is the seeming conviction these elderly peasant folk have in the tales they tell, and it's hard not to be swept away by it all.

Some of them express frustration with the relative lack of belief in such things by the present generation. One elderly man blames television for this change:
"They don't need advice. They don't listen to anybody."

"They don't listen to anybody?"

"They are stupid as a box of rocks. That's how I see it."

"Because they have television?"

"Of course. Can you learn everything by yourself? When you are together with other people, they change your thoughts. You hear new things. You gather stories from strangers. Different people and different places. But if you never listen to people then you die stupid."
In light of the continuing debate over TV potentially causing brain rot, it's an interesting assessment.

As to the stories themselves, in essence, what makes them different from people who receive visits from their dead Aunty Mabel or claim they were taken aboard alien spacecraft for a jolly good probing?

The candor of the subjects can be quite surprising at times. I laughed when one of the elderly women described an incubus attack on her grandmother, in the following manner:

Speaking of which, some of the folkloric parallels were also quite startling to me. The story of St. Toader's Horses was like a gender-switch of the Scottish glaistig; there was the use of a horse to track down the undead, a precedent found in other vampire folklore, as well as the motivation behind scattering seeds (or, in this case, dirt) as a form of spell to keep the strigoi entombed.

The old lady who helped dispatch the strigoi (as mentioned earlier), also noted that the corpse's mouth "twisted and sneered" after it was impaled. The corpse's "living" reaction is also found in other vampire accounts.

You'll notice that I've primarily focused on the stories, rather than the film itself. That's because the very drive and focus of the film, is the stories being told. It isn't awash with flashy techniques and isn't even narrated. Essentially, it's a living folkloric record, occasionally interspersed with evocative (though amateurish) drawings of events being described.

Some portions are quite superfluous, like the slideshow of random countryside images accompanied by a crescendo of music after the pact-with-the-Devil bloke's account. I found the use of these photographs somewhat questionable, as they don't seem to have an immediate relevancy to the film. The depiction on the cover, itself, doesn't connect to the "plot". There's also a shot of someone's dinner during the end credits. Why? I don't think they needed to resort to such filler.

I also had an issue with fade outs, as a lot of them took longer than they should. There's also a section of the film showing the filmmakers driving, fixing a car and drinking, all in night-vision, which was pretty pointless.

The segment on "Dracula's place" after the end credits was totally irrelevant and undermined the film before it. Should've been edited out.

You'll also note that I haven't referred to any of the subjects by name, and instead used "elderly man", etc. That's because their names don't appear during the film. You have to wait till the credits roll, when there's an "In Order of Appearance" list, which is somewhat frustrating. I think the ages of the participants and their locations could also have been disclosed. This is being mindful of regional variants in folkloric accounts, from which a comparison could be drawn. Instead, we're left with the occasional mentions the participants make themselves.

Overall, this is a very straightforward documentary, practically unembellished (although I was a little uncomfortable with the [admittedly] few prompts by the interviewers). The music is superb and quite atmospheric. Despite my criticisms, I would even go so far as to say this doco is an invaluable contribution to Romanian folklore studies.

Even if you're not into the field, it makes compelling viewing in its own right. I actually sat in silence through large portions of it, so absorbed was I in the tales they told.
Fascinating viewing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Butler in My Inbox

Thanks to the sometimes-wonder that is Amazon e-mailed suggestions, I've been reminded (Monday, 15 February 2010 9:04:59 PM) of the upcoming release of Erik Butler's Metamorphoses of the Vampire in Literature and Film: Cultural Transformations in Europe, 1732-1933 on March 1.

I last mentioned it in "More Wishes".

The price is a little steep for a 238 pages (US $75), but at least we've now got a pretty little cover to look at.

Going by the title, it seems to be covering well-trod ground, however, the author's credentials as an "assistant professor of German Studies at Emory University, where he also teaches comparative literature and film" might elevate it above your average meandering into the genre.

Here's hoping!

Across the Forest, Across the Sea

Yesterday, I received a copy of Justin Blair and Matthew Vincent's Across the Forest doco in the mail. I'm gonna give a brief background into how that came about.

I received an e-mail from Justin ("Justin Blair here, the maker of the vampire (strigoi) documentary set in Transylvania, Across the Forest", Tuesday, 26 January 2010 2:28:55 PM) saying that he came across my blog via Magia Posthuma and said that I'm doing "really excellent work".

He then asked if I'd be interested in having a copy of the film sent to me for review on my blog and asked if I wanted to interview him, as well.

As this e-mail came hot on the heels of "Blogging Ethics", I was somewhat torn. There was an air of self-promotion I wasn't entirely comfortable with.

However, he did have a point: his doco's subject matter is in sync with what I discuss on my blog.

In my reply ("Re: Justin Blair here, the maker of the vampire (strigoi) documentary set in Transylvania, Across the Forest‏", Friday, 29 January 2010 10:14:05 PM), I made him aware of my "Blogging Ethics" post, but complemented him on addressing me directly, rather than group-send me spam. I also admitted that its subject matter was in context with what I write about and mentioned that I had seen Niels' review of it.

I also said that, in the interests of disclosure, I'd have to reveal that he suggested I interview him (should I actually do so, mind you and I probably will) and if he was ok with that, then yes, I'd agree for a copy of the film to be sent to me. But I also iterated that if I had any issues with the film (i.e., criticisms) then I'd certainly be raising them in my review.

Can't play favourites here, ya see.

He wrote back shortly after ("Re: Justin Blair here, the maker of the vampire (strigoi) documentary set in Transylvania, Across the Forest", ‏Friday, 29 January 2010 10:14:05 PM) saying that he admired my viewpoints and had "no problems with the criteria" I gave. He also said that if I did have any problems with the film, then they'd be his own, and had no beef with my pointing them out (awww).

He mentioned it was a low-budget film, but that it "dovetails" with what I write about and reiterated his offer to send me a copy, and thanked me for writing back.

I was pretty impressed with Justin's manners and professionalism, so I wrote back ("RE: Justin Blair here, the maker of the vampire (strigoi) documentary set in Transylvania, Across the Forest", Tuesday, 2 February 2010 12:41:58 AM) thanking him for his courtesy and gave him the go-ahead to send the film. I did mention that there might be problems concerning DVD region codes (we use PAL in Australia, whereas the Yanks use NTSC).

He got back to me ("Re: Justin Blair here, the maker of the vampire (strigoi) documentary set in Transylvania, Across the Forest‏", Tuesday, 2 February 2010 11:33:58 AM) saying that the disc was region-free and that they had customers from "Australia, the UK, Denmark, Brazil, Japan, etc and no reported problems".

He signed off by saying he'd send it soon and would be looking forward to hearing back from me.

Which now brings us back to the present.

I haven't had time to watch the DVD yet, but when I do, the review will follow soon after.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Anchev's Vampires

I recently gave some coverage to Bulgarian vampire folklore.

Today, I received a Bulgarian book about Bulgarian vampire folklore in the mail.

It's Анатол Анчев [Anatol Anchev]'s Вампирите в българския фолклор: фолклористични и аналитичнопсихологически аспекти [Vampirite v bŭlgarskii︠a︡ folklor: folkloristichni i analitichnopsikhologicheski aspekti] (Sofii︠a︡ : Lege Artis, 2008).

I initially stumbled across it in the Library of Congress' catalogue and decided I had to add it to my collection.

Can't read the damn thing, mind you, but it's a nice little curio.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

This Blood's for You

This isn't vampire-specific, but I did find it interesting, nonetheless. You'll see why.

A quick note on formatting of the following article: paragraph indents have been replaced with paragraph breaks for this blog.

And now, onto "Bloody Good Police Work", mX (Melbourne), Friday February 12, 2010, p. 9:
Polish police have recovered 11 tonnes of human blood plasma stolen from a US company while on its way to Austria.

The truck with a freezer unit carrying the plasma, worth more about $1.6 million, was stolen as the driver made a rest stop in Germany.

It was taken across the border into Poland, where it was seized on Wednesday.

Polish police have made no arrests so far, and believe thieves stole it in the hope of selling it elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

This One's for the Dracula Fans

Came across what looks to be a brilliant addition to Drac Studies. Behold, Dracula: The Sourcebook:
With the many portrayals of Dracula in media, LSU Ph.D. student John Edgar Browning, along with author Caroline Joan Picart, have set out to put together the definitive Dracula reference book with "Dracula: The Sourcebook, A Guide to Film and Television, Comic Books and Video Gaming." LSU Ph.D. students Laura Helen Marks and Mitch Frye also contributed chapter introductions to the book, and several of Browning's former undergraduate students from a class on composition and monster theory assisted with the research.
Its publisher, McFarland, doesn't have an entry for the book on its website, so expect it to be published quite late in the year.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ojai Vampire Update

Got so caught up in the new vampire encyclopaedia news, that I completely forgot about my further investigations in the Ojai Vampire!

After their previous response, I sent them another e-mail ("RE: A Query about Camp Comfort Park", Tuesday, 9 February 2010 7:19:42 PM). I was trying to determine if they had heard any variants of the tale:

Thanks for giving me the heads up on the sarcophagus issue.

I'm interested to know if you've actually heard about the vampire legend, however. What's your version of it?

~ Anthony
And here's what they wrote back ("RE: A Query about Camp Comfort Park", Wednesday, 10 February 2010 3:47:04 AM):
Office staff is unaware of any tall tales that have to do with so called "vampires" and the County parks.
This makes me think that maybe the legend isn't as widespread as I thought. That, or they're new!

Or, we could go the conspiracy route and suggest they're covering up, but even if that was the case, would you want a bunch of vampire hunting wannabes to be scouring your Park, looking for a (most-likely) non-existent sarcophagus?

Didn't think so.

Besides, the story's obviously bogus. But it's an interesting lesson in the way "stories" are passed along. As long as no-one gets hurt, of course.

Another Vampire Encyclopaedia on the Way!

Theresa Bane's Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology, which I last covered here, is still a while away from general release (originally slated for June, but looks like it'll be out in March).

In the meantime, I've just come across references to
another addition to the vampire encyclopaedia genre.

But it's not by her.

I stumbled across this newbie while I was looking up info relating to Ronald Foust's "Rite of Passage: The Vampire Tale as Cosmogonic Myth" (1986). This lead me to Matt Cardin's blog entry, "What I Read in 2009".

I was scanning the entry for other vampire stuff, when I came across this little tidbit in his biographic entry on the sidebar:
He is also a successful freelance blogger, consultant, and copywriter, and will contribute several entries, including an examination of vampires and religion, to the forthcoming reference work "Encyclopedia of the Vampire: The Living Dead in Myth, Legend, and Popular Culture," edited by S.T. Joshi.
I hurriedly went a-Googlin' for the book.

The first page in the search was Stephen Jones' upcoming works, which reveals his contribution to it is an entry called "Vampires in Television". The publication date given is 2010 and he (courteously) lists the publisher: "ABC-CLIO, USA".

I checked out their website, which strangely has no listing for the book.

It's not even listed in Amazon.

But, I've also found that a bloke named Bev Vincent will also be contributing to the book (he's got four entries) and that Matt Cardin's webpage contradicts Jones' reference to the publisher. He lists it as Greenwood Press.

Yet, Greenwood Press' website has no listing for the book, either. Very odd.

Time to check out Joshi, himself.

In doing so, I found another contributor, Lisa Kroger, and also...Joshi's blog.

Here's what he has to say about the book in his news section, 12 December 2009:
I am currently working on a number of projects. Nearly complete is The Encyclopedia of the Vampire, a one-volume project commissioned by Greenwood Press (www.greenwood.com). It will contain entries, ranging from 250 words to 3000 words, on all aspects of vampirism in literature, history, media, and culture, with important contributions by Paula Guran, Elizabeth Miller, James Holte, Joyce Jesionowski, Tony Fonseca, and many others. The book is a little late, but I am still hopeful that it can appear in late 2010.
As you might be able to tell, I'm quite excited about this upcoming work.

Joshi is a well-respected literary critic of fantasy literature (mainly focusing on H. P. Lovecraft), so this is almost-certainly gonna be a brilliant project.

Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chasing Up the Ojai Vampire

After writing my previous entry, I e-mailed the Ventura County Parks Department (who administer Camp Comfort) with the following ("A Query about Camp Comfort Park", Tuesday, 9 February 2010 5:02:50 AM):
Good morning,

Have you heard of the Ojai Vampire?

If so, what's the story you've heard?

It's apparently centred around Camp Comfort County Park.

There's rumours of a sarcophagus that's meant to be somewhere in the area, containing the remains of a vampire.

I don't believe in the story, but I'm wondering if the sarcophagus might actually exist. Can you confirm or deny this?

Anthony Hogg
And here's what they wrote back ("Re: A Query about Camp Comfort Park", Tuesday, 9 February 2010 7:37:41 AM):
The Parks Department Administrative staff knows nothing about a sarcophagus onsite at any of the County parks.
And you'd think they would, if there was one out there.

Nonetheless, they weren't very forthcoming about the vampire legend, so maybe they "get that a lot".

If any readers out there have been to Camp Comfort and seen a sarcophagus, or, better yet, have a picture of it, I'd love to hear from you!

Not All's Sunny in California

I first read about the Ojai Vampire in Martin V. Riccardo's "Vampire Haunts" chapter for Rosemary Ellen Guiley with J.B. Macabre's The Complete Vampire Companion (New York: Macmillan, 1994).

The story is told on pp. 47-48 and relates the account of (unnamed) local ranchers finding their cattle mutilated and exsanguinated in the 1980s. They suspect a vampire, arm themselves and target a new landowner.

They come across something that resembles a "large stone box near a crossroad off Creek Road" and hear a vicious growl. It comes from a large black dog guarding this "box" (actually a sarcophagus). One of the ranchers whips out a large, silver crucifix, which keeps the dog at bay.

When they get closer to the box, the dog lunges for them, and they fire at it, with no effect. A plucky rancher flings holy water at it and the dog shrieks and runs away, leaving them free to approach the tomb "surrounded by tall weeds under the tree".

They pried off the lid and find "the cadaverous body of a nobleman" and stake it through the heart, just as the sun begins to set, and replace the lid.

Riccardo points out that the story contains "common pagan, Christian, and fictional elements of the vampire myth", taking note of the "crossroad, the spectral black dog, the nobleman, the silver crucifix, and the approaching dusk" (47). He also notes that a black dog is sometimes seen in the area and the sarcophagus has apparently been found, on occasion, with a window in the lid that reveals the vampire's unholy remains.

The story still circulates in Ojai, and is related on a section of Weird California's "Char Man" article. However, the date given in the story is vastly different from Riccardo's account. It also gives a bit of a background to the mysterious nobleman, too:
According to urban legend, a vampire relocated to the Ojai area around 1890 from either Italy or Spain. He acquired a small ranch and kept a low profile. However, as soon as he arrived, local cattle began turning up dead and drained of blood. Shortly thereafter locals were assaulted by strange wolf like creatures. The townsfolk got up in arms and realizing that a vampire was in their midst, raided the vampire’s ranch during the day.
There's also speculation as to the story's origins and a more specific geographic location of the vampire's resting place. It ends with a sombre warning:
It has been speculated that this legend cropped up from a possible real life above ground tomb. It is plausible that an old family near the turn of the century could have buried their dead in this manner upon their estate. It is not only not unheard of, but also apparently the custom at the time in certain parts of Europe. Even the window in the stone coffin isn’t completely unheard of. Stating that, however, if you are wandering around Camp Comfort County Park and come upon a stone sarcophagus with a skeleton inside, don’t pull out the wooden stake.
I did some more browsing on the case and found a classic friend-of-a-friend account:
Supposedly in the mid 1800s a Vampire Settled in the Ojai valley. In the late 1800s the villagers of Nordhoff, now Ojai, hunted him down and staked him through the heart. Now I have heard that the poeple incased the remains of the vampire in a slab of cement. A buddy of mine actually says that he knows the location of the concrete slab. he says it is about a mile back from the intrance of Camp Comfort across the stream and over the first hill.....a bit of a hike but worth checking out....On my next trip to Ojai it is in the agenda. This is the area where the Phantom Dog roams as well as Charman
I tried registering with the forum, to ask this guy to produce a photo of the tomb, but was sadly confronted with this: "Sorry but you cannot register at this time because the administrator has disabled new account registrations."

I also came across what appears to be a slight variant of the story, but much less literate:
A guy that transformed into a vampire is repeatedly observed concealing a dead body by a large boulder in Camp Comfort Park after midnight. One thing's for certain, this spirit undoubtedly is bloodcurdling; one that you don't want to encounter at the stroke of midnight.
The Ojai Vampire has all the classic urban legend traits, but I'm also reminded of certain elements in 1959 Western, Curse of the Undead.

Not only is it set in California, but the plot revolves around a mysterious gunman, ranch wars and a vampiric plague.

To cap it off, the vampire turns out to be Don Robles, a Spanish nobleman.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Public Service Announcement

I know I've been neglecting this blog for a little bit (well, ok, not that long), but you'll see why very shortly!

I generally don't like referring to my writings on the Highgate Vampire Case (and its participants) as they tend to attract unwanted attention.

Even Niels has encountered the shady types associated with the Case and his blog is about as innocent as you can get.

I'm guessing other readers have, too.

But this time 'round, I think I need to make a sort of public service announcement on it, especially due to the topics I've covered in the last few days.

This is also to give readers an idea of just how deceptive its primary protagonists can be.

Oh, by the way, if you're not familiar with the Highgate Vampire Case, then here's its Wikipedia page.

Read it?

Ok, good. Let's start with David Farrant.

Despite his insistence that the "feud" between himself and his arch-nemesis, Bishop Sean Manchester, is a "one-sided" affair, it very clearly isn't.

Despite pathologically trying to avail himself of the "vampire hunter" tag and promote his lack of belief in "Hammer-style" undead, he's also the same guy insisting that the "vampire" is "still active" (at rather timely circumstances) and still gives talks on the Case, despite declaring his interest in it "dead".

Query him further about certain quotes and actions, and you come up against a slippery slide of wanton deceit and sidestepping.

And now, onto Manchester.

Hoo boy.

In the last few days, I've focused on the fact that he's a blatant plagiarist.

Now, you'd think that a Bishop would (at the very least) admit to such misdeeds, and apologise for the error of his ways, wouldn't you?

Not this one.

It all began when I noticed that a blog post he "wrote" commenting on Barack Obama, seemed slightly, mmm, off-kilter. On a hunch, I decided to google portions of it.

Here's what I uncovered.

Most interestingly, large chunks of the post were cribbed from the blog of a right-wing British political party, the BNP.

I confronted Manchester on this matter by commenting on his blog.

Rather than confess, he instead deleted my comments and presented heavily-truncated versions of them as part of answers to unsuspecting readers.

The saga of this back-and-forth lunacy is compiled here.

In the meantime, I decided to have a peek into the Bishop's ecclesiastic "credentials". You might be surprised to see what I found.

As a side note, it might be amusing to know that he also wound up excommunicating one of the men who ordained him.

But the saga doesn't quite end there, ladies and gents! Oh no!

For the "crime" of trying to get the Bishop to admit to his "sins of omission", I was banned from commenting on his blog and also publicly labeled an anti-Catholic homosexual! (note: I'm neither anti-Catholic, or homosexual.)

So, if you wish to traipse into the minefield of dung that is the Highgate Vampire Case, I advise that you wear very sturdy boots!

Other than that, if you encounter either of these shady characters, or their affiliates, be it in person or on your blog/forum, I'd recommend extreme caution (lest you be publicly maligned or harassed by e-mail or some other means) and a hefty dose of skepticism.

Oh, and be very cautious of giving access to personal info.

Thanks for listening!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Vamping Out with Hort

Barbara E. Hort's Unholy Hungers: Encountering the Psychic Vampire in Ourselves and Others (Boston and London: Shambhala, 1996) arrived in the mail yesterday.

From a cursory glance, it seems to deal with vampirism in a psychological manner à la Albert J. Bernstein's Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry (2000). But, it does have some interesting stuff to say about the vampire archetype.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tieck Time Again

In the previous entry, I mentioned a volume called Popular Tales and Romances of the Northern Nations (1823) as a source for a mis-attributed work called "Wake Not the Dead".

It's apparently to blame for mistaking Raupach's authorship for Tieck's.

Thanks to the wonders of Google Book Search, you can actually read the tome, yourself. The story appears on pp. 233-291.

Interestingly enough, Tieck is not directly cited as the source of the story in that volume. The only reference to him appears in the book's "Preface":
On the same principle are two volumes of PopularTales, published at Eisenach, without the author's name, but many of them are exceedingly entertaining. Lebrecht and Tieck are the authors of many beautiful legends, but they have generally trusted to their own fancy instead of building themselves on antient traditions. Backzo's legends are something in the manner of La Motte Fouqué, though neither so fanciful nor so original. But to detail all the volumes of German legend and romance would be to give a bookseller's catalogue ; for, not only has Moravia, Silesia, Thuringia, and Austria, each its distinct legends, but every quarter of the Harz Mountains, east, west, north, and south, has its own exclusive terrors; and when to these are added the fictions of later writers, the catalogue swells beyond all reasonable limit (xi-xii).
That's about as close as it gets.

However, I was somewhat doubtful of Crawford's suggestion that Haining is the source of the error. So, I decided to do some Googling.

Haining's Gothic Tales of Terror was published in 1973, but earlier attributions of Tieck to "Wake" exist. He had already done it in 1972 with Great Tales of Terror From Europe and America, but renamed the story "The Bride of the Grave".

But Charles M. Collins had already beaten him to the punch in A Feast of Blood (1967).

I'd be almost certain that other editors and writers have attributed it to Tieck, too. It's been doing the rounds for so long, it's hard to tell just where it started.

Not Tieck's Vampire

I was inspired to write this entry by Andrew's latest movie review.

"Wake Not the Dead" (c. 1800) is a short story commonly attributed to German Romanticist, Johann Ludwig Tieck (1773 - 1853). Its importance to the genre is enhanced by the fact that it preceded John Polidori's "The Vampyre" (1819) by nearly 20 years.

Or so we thought.

Recent studies have revealed that Tieck wasn't actually the author of the story. That credit is now going to Ernst Benjamin Salomo Raupach (1784-1852).

I'm not sure if Rob Brautigam, a Dutch vampirologist, was the first to uncover this point of attribution, but his comment on the matter was certainly the first reference I've seen (it was incorporated to this review).

The attribution is also elaborated in "Relato Gotico/Vampirismo: Deja a los Muertos en Paz - Avances Programa Nº 425 (21/11/09)" (English translation here) and Heide Crawford has composed a paper for the 2010 Kentucky Foreign Language Conference.

As she and the other articles reveal, not only was Tieck not the author of the story, but it was actually first published in 1823.

Here's what she has to say on the matter, also revealing a possible source of the error:
When Theodor Hildebrandt published the first German vampire novel Der Vampir oder die Todtenbraut in 1828, he was contributing to a long tradition of literary representations of the vampire in European poetry and prose that began with Heinrich August Ossenfelder's poem "Der Vampir" in 1748. Two years before Hildebrandt published his vampire novel, the popular dramatist Ernst Benjamin Salomo Raupach (1784-1852) had published the vampire story "Lasst die Todten ruhen" (1823), which has been erroneously attributed to Ludwig Tieck by American and British scholars of Gothic Horror literature since at least 1973 when Peter Haining published the English translation, "Wake Not the Dead" in his volume two of his Gothic Horror anthology Gothic Tales of Terror and named Tieck as the author.
I should note that "Relato" cites Popular Tales and Romances of the Northern Nations (1823) as the source of the error.

But, Tieck does have a saving grace: Crawford attributes the "earliest known German prose work that features a female vampire" to him, in the shape of his 1812 story, "Liebeszauber".

And thus, Tieck's place in the vampire genre is still solid. Even if it's for a completely different story.

Vampires in Bulgaria

S. G. B. St. Clair and Charles A. Brophy's Twelve Years' Study of the Eastern Question in Bulgaria (1877) is commonly cited as a source on vampires in Bulgarian folklore.

But what probably isn't as well-known, is that the book's actually a revised edition of their 1869 work, A Residence in Bulgaria, or Notes on the Resources and Administration of Turkey.

Compare an excerpt from the 1877 book against the 1869's chapter on Bulgarian superstitions.
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