21 апреля 2009 | Автор: Admin | Рубрика: English литература » Художественная литература на английском языке | Комментариев: 0
Paul Barber, "Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality"
Yale University Press | 1988 | ISBN: 0300041268 | 244 pages | siPDF | 4.5 MB
Throughout the world there is a common belief that the dead may return to life. In Europe the most exotic form of this belief is the legend of the vampire. In this engrossing book, Paul Barber surveys centuries of folklore about vampires—from the tale of a sixteenth-century shoemaker from Breslau whose ghost terrorized everyone in the city, to the testimony of a doctor who presided over the exhumation and dissection of a graveyard full of Serbian vampires. Analyzing these reports, Barber offers for the first time a scientific explanation for the origin of the vampire legends.
The accounts compiled here by Barber of exhumations of suspected vampires include descriptions of blood on the lips of the dead body, how the corpse cried out when a stake was driven into its heart, and how the corpse partly rose from the grave. These descriptions led to further assumptions about vampires; that after coming to life again, they would prey on the living, sucking their blood or killing them in other ways. Barber studies the descriptions of exhumed cadavers in light of what is now known about forensic pathology and shows that they are clinically possible.
Barber thus argues that the lore about vampires is an elaborate folk-hypothesis that sought to make sense out of a wide variety of natural phenomena, including the events of decomposition. His book will be fascinating reading for scientists and anthropologists as well as for everyone interested in folklore.
From Library Journal
Barber has written a stimulating, authoritative discourse on the relationship between the historical concepts of vampires in folklore and fiction across the ages and throughout the world. To explain the underlying myraid interment and mourning practices designed to keep the dead at bay, he postulates a universal fear of the"vampire/revenant." Such fear was most probably based on universal lack of knowledge and control over fatal illness and disease, and misinterpretations of the natural (and varied) physical manifestations of death and decay in the human body. A lengthy bibliography accompanies the text. Best for academics, but for interested general readers too.
An armchair Dr. Van Helsing tracks down the real origins of the vampire legend. According to Barber - who skips right over the Vlad the Impaler hypothesis - stories of vampires rising from the dead are "an elaborate folk hypothesis" evolved to explain mysterious phenomena associated with death, especially the grisly facts of bodily decomposition. He begins by recounting vampiric folk tales from Serbia, Greece, and other haunted regions, and extracting their recurrent motifs. Vampirism can result, he finds, from suicide, sorcery, inauspicious birth, having a sleep-walking brother, and other rips in the social fabric. Unlike screen Draculas, folklore vampires are usually ruddy, bloated, lightly bearded peasants. To keep a vampire from leaving his grave, try mutilating the corpse, filling the burial site with food or knots (vampires can spend centuries happily untying knots), burying the corpse face-down (the vampire will chew his way to the center of the earth), etc. If the vampire escapes, recommended steps include staking, cutting out the heart, or cremation. After delivering this fascinating Baedeker of the living dead, Barber turns to an examination of human decomposition, explaining how each stage contributes to the vampire legend (bloating of the corpse, for instance, leading to reports of disturbances of the earth over a vampire's grave). In short, a "series of cognitive filters" turns a natural event into a tale of blood-seeking monsters. Learned, energetic, creepily absorbing study - definitely not for children.
Tags: Science, Anthropology, History, Literature, Folklore