Vampires, Burial, and Death

By Paul T. Barber,

Book cover of Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality

Book description

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…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Vampires, Burial, and Death as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The figure of the vampire has become very familiar through portrayals in literature, stage, and cinema, but where does the myth itself originate?

Many have speculated on the roots of the vampire legend, ascribing it to various diseases, like porphyria or rabies. But Barber stripped away the cultural additions imposed on the legend by its fictional interpretation and looked for origins consistent with the bare, original legend.

A nice piece of folkloric detective work, and one that influenced my own book.

From Stephen's list on the unexpected truths behind myths.

This was a breakthrough in our (and my) understanding of vampires as an explanation for disease in the context of pre-industrial, agrarian societies. Everyone understood that there were (and to some degree, are still) persistent folk beliefs about vampires around the world, with Slavic and Balkan variants having gained a foothold in the popular imagination. Paul Barber explains the intricacies of belief, the particulars of that folklore, and illuminates one of humanity’s oldest tendencies that lies at the root of vampire stories—to blame death on the dead. There are gruesome anecdotes aplenty and Barber explains the logistics of vampire “attacks”…

From Kurt's list on making you a true vampire scholar.

This is an important book of vampire lore for several reasons. First, it goes in-depth into early modern texts about vampires and vampire hunting as well as vampire “panics” that were once common in communities in Eastern Europe. Second, it applies forensics to theorize why normal aspects of the decomposition process could have been interpreted as evidence of vampirism. The book is informative but also written in a way that is witty and humorous.

From Joseph's list on vampire lore.

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