Sunday, April 5, 2015

Vampires, Burial, and Death (Paul Barber)

Anyone with an interest in vampires needs to investigate this marvelous book by Paul Barber, a rare scholarly study that is written with verve, wit, and charm. Barber reminds us that the undead of folklore have precious little in common with Bram Stoker's Dracula or Anne Rice's Lestat -- those are completely modern concoctions. The traditional vampire is, in fact, a corpse. And not a corpse in any too good shape, either! Barber includes more information about the body after death than you could ever have imagined, and yet somehow manages to maintain a jolly tone while he discusses the details of decomposition and other potentially gut-churning subjects. I laughed out loud at lines like these: "However tragic your death may be, it would be far more tragic if you were to take me with you." This is a great book!

[I wrote this note quite a while ago, based on the original 1988 edition, and have not had the opportunity to look at the 2010 edition with a new preface. But you cannot go wrong with this book: it is sensational. Used copies of the earlier edition are available quite inexpensively at Amazon.]

Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality; With a New Preface (2010 Edition)

Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (1988 Edition)

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