Monday, August 30, 2010
"Vice Pioneers" : Vampires
The Slavs are noted as the originators of modern vampire belief.
John Polidori, arguably the creator of the vampire genre in fantasy fiction writing.
Bram Stoker, considered the grandaddy of vampire lore.
There's no explanation needed on how popular vampires are. They are the most intriguing mythological beings ever conjured up. They are overtly sexual, mysterious, and they live forever--everything appealing to human desire. The background on the vampire is extensive and I cannot cover it all, but I will give an overview.
The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first appearance of the word vampire in English from 1734, in a travelogue titled Travels of Three English Gentlemen published in the Harleian Miscellany in 1745. Vampires had already been discussed in German literature. After Austria gained control of northern Serbia and Oltenia in 1718, officials noted the local practice of exhuming bodies and "killing vampires". These reports, prepared between 1725 and 1732, received widespread publicity.
Origin of Vampire Beliefs:
Although many cultures possess revenant superstitions comparable to the Eastern European vampire, the Slavic vampire is the revenant superstition that pervades popular culture's concept of vampire. The roots of vampire belief in Slavic culture are based to a large extent in the spiritual beliefs and practices of pre-Christianized Slavic peoples and their understanding of life after death. Despite a lack of pre-Christian Slavic writings describing the details of the "Old Religion", many pagan spiritual beliefs and rituals have been sustained by Slavic peoples even after their lands were Christianized. Examples of such beliefs and practices include ancestor worship, household spirits, and beliefs about the soul after death. The origins of vampire beliefs can in Slavic regions can be traced to the complex structure of Slavic spiritualism.
While even folkloric vampires of the Balkans and Eastern Europe had a wide range of appearance ranging from nearly human to bloated rotting corpses, it was the success of John Polidori's 1819 The Vampyre that established the charismatic and sophisticated vampire of fiction as it is arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century inspiring such works as Varney the Vampire and eventually Dracula.
However, it is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula that is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and which provided the basis of modern vampire fiction. Dracula drew on earlier mythologies of werewolves and similar imaginary demons and "was to voice the anxieties of an age", and the "fears of late Victorian patriarchy". The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, video games, and television shows.
Learn more about vampires here.