Sunday, 13 October 2013

Vampires, Burial and Death

Dear Bishop Manchester, during these days I'm reading a book called "Vampires, Burial and Death" written by Paul Barber. Many people consider this book a masterpiece of the genre (non-fictional vampires) and I would like to know your opinion about it, if it's possible. Thank you. Alan (Italy).

The author is a research associate of the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at the University of California and his approach is purely scientific. Paul Barber surveys centuries of folklore about the phenomenon and offers only scientific explanation for the origins of the vampire legend. If you are looking to explain away this supernatural phenomenon as an exercise in social anthropology or forensic pathology, eg as a cultural abberation, this is the book for you. If you want to learn about the vampire as a demonic manifestation of supernatural evil, it is not. 

Paul Barber subtitles his book "Folklore and Reality," but it is his reality and he does not entertain any belief in vampires or, I daresay, much else considered supernatural. The book is well researched, however, and cites plenty of cases which, if you are not already familiar with them, will make it an engrossing, albeit dry, read. I found it somewhat boring and tiresome, probably because I am more than acquainted with all with the book's material. To those who collect folklore books of this nature, I would probably recommend it. Those wanting to learn about vampires and vampirism, however, should look elsewhere. Vampires, Burial and Death is a relatively light read which attempts to succinctly explain away vampires by relegating them to the status of a superstition and natural causes. The author is more interested in decomposition than demons, and is a million light years from such exemplary works as The Vampire: His Kith & Kin (1928) and The Vampire in Europe (1929) by Montague Summers who approaches the subject with scholarship, passion and a perspective very much akin to my own.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Bishop Manchester,
    thank you for your kind reply. I totally agree with your analysis. I collect book of this kind so i'm happy with my purchase also because "Vampires, burial and death" is well written in my opinion; that said i was already familiar with almost all the cases mentioned in the Barber's book and i'm a little disappointed by his approach. In my humble opinion Barber is a knowledgeable writer but at the same time his conclusions are a little close-minded sometimes.
    Montague Summers wrote two masterpieces, no doubt about it. Anyway, His Excellency is too humble, i would like to highlight that "The Highgate Vampire" and "The Vampire hunter's handbook" are essential to understand who and what is a vampire really.With friendship, Alan(Italy).