Monday, October 20, 2014

Early Vampire Craze

Generally, we associate Dracula with Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic novel, but the compelling idea of the undead, the thought of eternal, though damned, life of drinking the lifeblood of the innocent, goes way back. In fact, the first fiction of this type is rooted in the vampire craze of the 1720's and 30's. Interestingly enough, the interest led to the exhuming of two "suspected" vampires, Petar Blagojevich and Arnold Paole, in Serbia, during the Habsburg monarchy. Of course they would be Eastern Europeans!

One of the first works to really have an impact is the short German poem, "The Vampire" by German writer, Heinrich August Ossenfelder, penned in 1748. The poem, is shown here, below:

My dear young maiden clingeth
Unbending. fast and firm
To all the long-held teaching
Of a mother ever true;
As in vampires unmortal
Folk on the Theyse's portal
Heyduck-like do believe.
But my Christine thou dost dally,
And wilt my loving parry
Till I myself avenging
To a vampire's health a-drinking
Him toast in pale tockay.
And as softly thou art sleeping
To thee shall I come creeping
And thy life's blood drain away.
And so shalt thou be trembling
For thus shall I be kissing
And death's threshold thou' it be crossing
With fear, in my cold arms.
And last shall I thee question
Compared to such instruction
What are a mother's charms?

Then there is the poem "Lenore" by Gottfried August Burger (1773), and "The Bride of Corinth" by Goethe (1797). Ahh, those Germans!

For the good of the season, you might want to look these up on-line, or better yet, buy them for your library! There's something about opening up a book, smelling the paper (or parchment, better yet), and letting the spirit of the story or characters out, that you just can't get with a Kindle!

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