Thursday, March 24, 2011

Evaluating Bane's Book List

I told a commenter that I was planning a write-up on Theresa Bane's 'Vampire research book list', so without further ado, here 'tis.

It's actually quite an interesting list, notable for the non-vampire books amidst the standard (albeit, useful) fare. Thus, we have Clifton D. Bryant's Handbook of death and dying (2 vols., 2003), Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal (first published in 1818), Moncure Daniel Conway's Demonology and devil-lore (2 vols., 1879, not '1897'), [R.E.L.] Masters' Eros and evil (1962; Bane lists a 1974 edition), Lewis Spence's Encyclopedia of occultism (first published in 1920), William Arens' The man-eating myth (1980) and Véronique Campion-Vincent's Organ theft legends (2005; translated from Légende des vols d'organes, 1997).

Bane also singles out a Hartl[e]y Burr Alexander's contribution (1917) to The mythology of all races (13 vols., 1916-32), but I'm not 100% on her citation. Might ask her to elaborate on it.

The vampire books she recommends are all sound. However, despite its title, Pëtr Bogatyrëv's Vampires in the Carpathians (1998) has practically nothing to do with vampires, except for a coupla minor mentions. Still, it'd probably be useful in providing a context for the region's folkloric beliefs.

There are a few errors on the list, apart from misspelling Bunson's 1993 book as '[The] Vampire Encycloopedia'. Claude Lecouteux's 1999 work, for instance, was not called 'History of the Vampire', but Histoire des Vampires, autopsie d’un mythe. She probably confused it with its English translation, The secret history of vampires (2010), otherwise it's a bit odd that she didn't provide an English title for Adriene Cremene's 'Mythology du Vampire en Romanine' [sic] (Mythologie du vampire en Roumanie, 1981). Incidentally, I wasn't aware that the later book was published in any language other than French ('hard to find in a language not German'), so she might have the drop on me there.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Maberry's Vampire universe was actually published in 2006, not '1996' . There also seems to be some confusion over the publication date of Ornella Volta's The vampire, which Bane lists as '1963'. Volta's book - originally titled Le vampire : la mort, le sang, la peur - was first published in 1962. To my knowledge, the earliest English translations were published by Tandem Books (London) and Award Books (New York). The latter is undated, but the former was released in 1965.

Bane includes three vampire books by Montague Summers on her list, giving all of them a valued four pound (#) sign and vaunting them as 'MUST READ[s]', even though two of them are the same book. 'The Vampire in Lore and Ledgend [sic]' aka The vampire in lore and legend, is actually Dover Publications' 2001 retitled reprint of Summers' The vampire in Europe (1929).

I don't overly mind that Bane alternately abbreviates the titles of certain books in her list, but referring to Radu Florescu and Raymond T. McNally's Dracula: a biography of Vlad the Impaler, 1431-1476 (1973) as 'Florescu, Radu. “Dracula: A Biography,” 1972' seems a bit too curt.

Other than the issues I've outlined here, Bane's certainly given us an interesting set of resources to work with. It's a nice 'sampler' of diverse contexts, subjects, disciplines and fields we vampire scholars can draw upon, perfectly illustrated in works like Lavery's essay for Slayage.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Are You a Vampiroid?

I had a brief discussion about the term 'vampiroid' on The Supernatural World forum, in which I said that 'vampiroids' wouldn't be overly thrilled with the term. But it got me thinking, how would they actually handle it?

The context I specifically mention is the definition provided by Sean Manchester, i.e. 'Britain's only full-time vampire hunter':
Vampiroids are not vampires. Some actually believe themselves to be vampires. They are not. How could they be when the definition of a vampire, upon examination, is revealed to be a dead body that issues forth from its tomb in the night to quaff the warm blood of the living, whereby it is nourished and preserved? Vampiroids, therefore, cannot be re-animated corpses with an awful supernatural existence beyond the grave. People who either believe themselves to be vampires, or want to become vampires and affect what they construe to be vampiristic lifestyles, even when this is taken to extremes, are invariably vampiroids.
You might not agree with (or believe) Manchester's 'profession', but what do you think of the definition, itself? Is it 'politically incorrect' or accurate terminology? I'd love to hear from people who identify themselves as vampires, perhaps some who've (obviously) been contributing to the poll.

Terrorised by Vampires

This about as close to a real-life encounter with vampires (maybe sans motorbikes) as you're gonna get and it's brought to us courtesy of YouTube.

Monday, March 21, 2011

So You Wanna Publish a Vampire Novel?

Let's say you've written your vampire novel, where do you go from there? Send it off to a bunch of publishers and hope for the best? Well, there is another option.

Have you considered self-publishing? Joe Konrath's 'Live undead - marketing Draculas' and its associated links gives a brilliant insight into what it's like to publish and promote your book, along with the costs involved.

Its focus is on getting a lot of the work done online and encouraging a greater control over one's creative output. I'm sure budding authors will appreciate this process, in light of the dark age bookshops are presently experiencing.

Amazonian Spending Spree Continued and Other Updates

The day after I wrote the previous entry, the rest of my books arrived in the post. Time for more first impressions!

Despite what I've said about the vampire subculture, its place in vampire studies is now cemented by their coverage in mainstream media and books like...
6. Joseph Laycock's Vampires today: the truth about modern vampirism (2009)

If I could recommend any work on the vampire 'Scene', it'd be this one. I was quite impressed with his treatment of the subject, which he presents free from the sensationalism or 'look at these oddballs!' approach you usually find in such coverage. He treats it with impartiality and respect. Good on him. Certainly one of the great vampire books out there.

7. George A. Dunn and Rebecca Housel's (eds.) True blood and philosophy: we wanna think bad things with you (2010)

I haven't watched the show, nor have I read the books by Charlaine Harris (shock! horror!), so why'd I buy it? I knew it featured a contribution by Bruce A. McClelland, an author whose work in vampire studies I greatly respect. His contribution's called 'Un-true blood: the politics of artificiality' (pp. 79-90). You can read my interview with Bruce here, here, here and here.

However, his contribution wasn't the only reason I bought it. I get a kick out of the philosophical treatments on the subject, especially as it gives the Vampire Myth a scope beyond the show.
And the last book on the list? Drumroll, please.
8. Michelle Belanger's The psychic vampire codex: a manual of magick and energy work (2004)

It's a title that tends to crop up a lot in my book searches, so I thought I'd give it a crack. It also gives an interesting behind-the-scenes look into the vampire subculture.
And there you have it. There's a whole stack of other books on my 'wishlist', but those'll have to wait for now.


Last Wednesday, I received an interesting package. Turned out to be a t-shirt, poster and temp fangmark tatts. They were prizes for a competition I'd entered on Templar Publishing's website, in their promotion of the vampire entry in the Ology World series. The question? Who wrote Dracula. Piss-easy.

I completely forgot that I'd even entered the competition (the accompanying letter's dated 15/01/11), so it was a pleasant surprise. Sure, the shirt don't fit and appears to be a girl's cut, but hey, a nice souvenir all the same.


On the 14th, I decided to join hundreds and millions of other folk by opening a Facebook account. So, casual readers, followers and such, feel free to add me. Just don't bombard me with Farmville apps, eh?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Amazonian Spending Spree

Firstly, happy Labour Day, whether you're a fellow countrymen or not. Second, it's time for a run-down of my latest vampire-related purchases.

I've deprived myself of buying non-fiction vampire books for so long that I went a little crazy when I logged into Amazon a few weeks ago. On February 20, I thought I'd treat myself and order a coupla books. But hey, why not add a couple more. Yeah, might as well round it off...

Ladies and gentlemen, I bought eight. Not cheap, either, lemme tell ya. Grand total (including shipping)? AUD 395.46. Fu...dge. Thankfully, our dollar's been on parity with the US's. Might as well take advantage of it while I still can, eh?

Anyhoo, onto the books. A few of 'em have come in. I'll give each one my brief impressions as I obviously haven't had time to read them all. Let's start with the batch that arrived on the 7th:
1. ST Joshi's Encyclopedia of the vampire: the living dead in myth, legend, and popular culture (2010 [2011 copyright date])

I've been waiting to get my hands on this one for a while. I was expecting it to be a serious rival to Melton's vampire encyclopedia, especially in light of its editor's pedigree. However, despite its subtitle, its primary focus is on vampire fiction. I couldn't help but feel somewhat disappointed that the mythological/folkloric aspect of vampirism wasn't given more coverage. It seems to have more in common with Erwin Jänsch's Vampir-Lexikon (1995) than Melton's broad analysis.

Don't get me wrong, though, this isn't a bad book. It's well-written and has a lotta interesting sources to mine. It's just not what I was expecting.

2. Deborah Wilson Overstreet's Not your mother's vampire: vampires in young adult fiction (2006)

As I've said before, I love it when vampire books focus on a specific aspect of the vampire myth. Young Adult vampire fiction, to my knowledge, has never been given an overview of this depth. We tend to overlook just how huge that field is. Despite extensive fandom for one saga in particular, we tend to forget exactly what audience those books were written for. I'm sure Overstreet would've had no idea just how huge the phenomena would become when she wrote the book.

That said, it's kinda ironic that she obviously didn't write it for a teen market. It's quite a scholarly work. This'd be the kinda thing you'd use for researching a major assignment or a thesis. That also means it has much more academic value than your standard cover-all-the-bases pop culture trash.

3. Michelle Belanger's Sacred hunger: the vampire in myth and reality (2005)

In contrast with what I said about Overstreet's book, this one's squarely rooted in the vampire subculture. In fact, its author is a founder of the House Kheperu and practices psychic vampirism. Not exactly my bag.

So, why did I buy it?

Well, like I said, I'm interested in works that cover specific aspects of the vampire myth and from the extracts I've seen of this thing, it seems Michelle's still objective enough to give the field some interesting coverage. But we'll see, eh?
The next 'instalment' arrived on the 11th. Two books, this time, but both are invaluable contributions to vampire scholarship.
4. Theresa Bane's Encyclopedia of vampire mythology (2010)

A critic questioned my 'career path' after I had the sheer audacity to offhandedly label Bane's Actual factual: Dracula (2007) as a 'mere catalogue'. In my response to the charge, however, I praised this book. No, I wasn't suckin' up to her, I genuinely hold this book in higher regard than her previous effort. As I said, when used in tandem, they're great.

The problem is, there's a lot of those vampire 'field guides' out there that don't efficiently chronicle their sources. As a result, we're left with a giant cauldron into which everything is thrown in, rather than developing a cohesive representation of the vampire, at least, in keeping with its standing as an 'historical' entity. Admittedly, the more you try and define exactly what a vampire is, the more you unravel the very fabric of the vampire itself. So, while I might not (personally) agree with the 'universality' of the vampire, Bane's given us a great paper trail to follow with each of her entries. Thank you!

5. Erik Butler's Metamorphoses of the vampire in literature and film: cultural transformations in Europe, 1732–1933 (2010)

I've barely read this book, but I know it's brilliant. Whether you question my integrity for the following statement or not, I don't care, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say this is probably one of the best books on vampires ever written. From what I've seen, it's absolutely jam-packed with info, interesting observations and well-sourced. My view might be tempered by the time I actually get 'round to finishing it (heh heh), but in the meantime, I stand by my call.
Well, that's all I got for now. I'm still waiting on three more books. I'll let you know what they are when they arrive. If you're interested, have a gander at the other books I've got in my collection. However, I should mention that I haven't gotten 'round to chronicling all the vampire books I own, but that's a sizable portion.

Am I missing anything decent? Got any recommendations? Are you a fellow LibraryThing member and you wanna 'add' me? Feel free!
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