Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality; With a New Preface

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In this engrossing book, Paul Barber surveys centuries of folklore about vampires and offers the first scientific explanation for the origins of the vampire legends. 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, his book is fascinating reading. A preface written for this reissue edition reflects on the book's impact in the twenty years since it was published and analyzes contemporary trends in the fascination with vampires, including the Stephenie Meyer Twilight novels.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Medical Association - R. Ted Steinbock

"This book is fascinating reading for physicians and anthropologists as well as anyone interested in folklore."—R. Ted Steinbock, MD, Journal of the American Medical Association

Independent - Hugh Barnacle

"Since this is essentially a scholarly work on human decomposition and historical attitudes to it, it is remarkable how often Paul Barber manages to be funny. . . . His insights, medical and cultural, hold a chastening fascination."—Hugh Barnacle, Independent

Nature - Roy Porter

"Barber’s inquiry into vampires, fact and fiction, is a gem in the literature of debunking. . . . Barber’s book is a convincing exercise in mental archaeology. . . ."—Roy Porter, Nature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300164817
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 909,454
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Barber is a research associate at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History, UCLA.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the 2010 Edition v

Preface xv

Introduction 1

I Peter Plogojowitz 5

II The Shoemaker of Silesia 10

III Visum et Repertum 15

IV De Tournefort's Vrykohkas 21

V How Revenants Come into Existence 29

VI The Appearance of the Vampire 39

VII Apotropaics I 46

VIII Apotropaics II 57

IX Search and Destroy 66

X The Vampire's Activity 82

XI Some Theories of the Vampire 98

XII The Body after Death 102

XIII Actions and Reactions 120

XIV Hands Emerging from the Earth 133

XV Down to a Watery Grave 147

XVI Killing the Vampire 154

XVII Body Disposal and Its Problems 166

XVIII The Soul after Death 178

XIX Keeping Body and Soul Apart 189

Conclusion 195

Notes 199

Bibliography 215

Index 233

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