[Marxism] Fwd: H-Net Review [H-SHERA]: Krys on Longinović, 'Vampires over the Ages: A Cultural Analysis of Scientific, Literary, and Cinematic Representations'

Andrew Stewart hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com
Tue Jul 30 11:50:10 MDT 2019


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From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review at lists.h-net.org>
Date: Tue, Jul 30, 2019 at 1:26 PM
Subject: H-Net Review [H-SHERA]: Krys on Longinović, 'Vampires over the
Ages: A Cultural Analysis of Scientific, Literary, and Cinematic
Representations'
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Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp at mail.h-net.org>


Toma Longinović.  Vampires over the Ages: A Cultural Analysis of
Scientific, Literary, and Cinematic Representations.  San Diego
Cognella Academic Publishing, 2012.  397 pp.  $116.95 (paper), ISBN
978-1-62131-538-4; ISBN 978-1-62131-819-4.

Reviewed by Svitlana Krys (MacEwan University)
Published on H-SHERA (July, 2019)
Commissioned by Hanna Chuchvaha

Tomislav Longinovic has compiled and edited a collection of primary
and secondary sources that reviews characteristics and
representations of the vampire--a cultural symbol known for its
longevity and global spread. Intended primarily as a textbook,
_Vampires over the Ages: A Cultural Analysis of Scientific, Literary,
and Cinematic Representations_ is comprised of two parts roughly
equal in length (approximately two hundred pages each): "Critical
Essays" and "Literary Representations." The "Critical Essays" part
contains an article on the etymology and history of the word
"vampire," several contributions that describe East European
folkloric vampires, the vampire epidemic among the peasants in
Central Europe (including an excerpt from a now classic vampire study
by Montague Summers), and theoretical texts that engage the vampire
image as an interpretative tool (Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud). "Critical
Essays" also includes two contributions by Raymond T McNally and Radu
Florescu--the Dracula and Vlad Țepeș scholars notorious for linking
Bram Stoker's fictional character to the fifteenth-century Wallachian
prince--and several articles regarding filmic representations of the
vampire by well-established scholars in the field of Gothic and
horror fiction (e.g., Nina Auerbach). Christopher Bolton's
contribution concerning vampires in Japanese anime films and Neil L.
Whitehead's article on dark shamans of Guyana (somewhat vaguely
linked to vampirism) round up "Critical Essays" and add a global
dimension to the critical discourse.

The primary texts in the "Literary Representations" part, some of
which are in translation, represent the Old World and the New World,
and feature European and American authors. "Literary Representations"
includes both renowned and lesserknown texts from the early
nineteenth century to, roughly, the third quarter of the twentieth
century (the most recent text by the American "dark fantasy" author
Charles L. Grant was published in 1979; the earliest text is by the
German Johann Ludwig Tieck, and it appeared in English translation in
1823). Most of the texts are written by male authors, but it is
refreshing to see three female authors featured in this compilation:
Mary Elizabeth Braddon (an English author of the Victorian era), Mary
E. Wilkins-Freeman (a nineteenth-century American author), and
Catherine L. Moore (an American science fiction and fantasy writer,
publishing under C. L. Moore). The texts range from a Romantic
tradition (Alexey Tolstoy, Théophile Gautier, James Malcolm
Rymer--the author of _Varney the Vampyre_, a famous-at-the-time but
now somewhat overlooked predecessor of Stoker's _Dracula_) to high
modernism and avant-garde (Oskar Kokoschka and August Strindberg) to
the twentieth-century American horror and science fiction (Fritz
Leiber or the above-mentioned Moore and Grant). "Literary
Representations" also contains Stoker's short story "Dracula's
Guest," considered to be a deleted chapter from his novel _Dracula
_(the publication date here is given as 1897 as opposed to 1914 when
it appeared as part of Stoker's posthumous collection _Dracula's
Guest and Other Weird Stories_). Curiously, the majority of the texts
focus on the female vampire figure. Its representations in these
texts include an old aristocratic lady set on prolonging her life by
all means (a loosely based reference to the historic female vampire,
Countess Elizabeth Báthory), an ancient courtesan (a reference to
Cleopatra), a deceased wife brought back to life by a grieving
husband, a murdered Gypsy girl, and a Medusa-like psychic female
spirit.

This eclectic collection of texts adds to previous efforts by Thomas
J. Garza and Jan L. Perkowski to academize the vampire figure by
using it as an angle to teach subjects in the fields of Slavic and
East European studies, folklore, English, film, comparative
literature, religion, and interdisciplinary studies.[1] The texts
from this volume could be used together or separately to address a
variety of course needs and subjects within these disciplines. The
primary texts in "Literary Representations" enrich the Anglophone
vampire canon with translations from French, German, and Swedish
authors. The noticeable lack of East European texts is puzzling, the
only exception being Tolstoy's novella _The Family of the Vourdalak_
(1884, Russian). For a compilation that focuses heavily on East
Slavic and South Slavic/European folklore in the "Critical Essays"
section, it would be beneficial to see more such texts in "Literary
Representations." The collection ends chronologically in the late
1970s, but if a second edition were planned, excerpts from _The
Finno-Ugrian Vampire_, a recent Hungarian novel by Noémi Szécsi
(_Finnugor vámpír,_ 2002), available in an English translation, or
excerpts from contemporary Ukrainian author Halyna Pahutiak's
historic vampire saga would be worthwhile contributions to this
volume.[2]

While Longinovic should be applauded for his efforts to publish a
course pack that colleagues can adapt to their classrooms, its lack
of a critical introduction to the featured texts leaves the reader in
the dark with respect to the organizational principle behind the
structure of and selected material in the collection. For instance,
the volume opens with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche that links the
vampire figure to questions of power, control, authority, and
submission. While the primary texts in "Literary Representations"
address this linkage roughly, it seems that the postcolonial angle
that would best correspond to Nietzsche's quote is missing. This
could be fixed by including more contemporary research on the
vampire, especially since some of the articles in "Critical Essays,"
while important, are congruent with outdated political situations due
to the time when they were published (e.g., before the collapse of
Yugoslavia) and without proper commentary might be confusing to
students.[3] Moreover, the order of the primary texts in "Literary
Representations" is unclear, as it is neither fully chronological nor
is it alphabetic: the opening texts and the closing texts represent
two set points within the selected time period (nineteenth-century
Romanticism and twentieth-century sci-fi), but the middle part is
jumbled; for instance, an excerpt from Rymer's _Varney _(serialized
in 1845-47) appears in the manuscript after Stoker's short story
(1897, published 1914). More recent literary representations and
examples from other narrative media (be it art, music lyrics, or
excerpts from graphic novels) would strengthen and broaden the
catalogue of primary texts, allowing readers to become familiar with
both traditional literary texts featuring the vampire and more
contemporary texts from alternative media. Finally, a short critical
introduction to each author selected for the literary representations
should be employed; currently this is done only for Grant (p. 373).
Such introductions would situate the texts within genre development,
cultural tradition, and literary canon. A brief version of the
syllabus or course description would be helpful to instructors who
wish to adapt this textbook to their courses, to show how the present
texts are utilized in the classroom.

Cognella Academic Publishing should do a more thorough proofreading
of the texts, as some show misplaced or missing punctuation. Also,
chapters taken from scholarly books in "Critical Essays" (e.g.,
Auerbach's contribution) include only abbreviated in-text citations;
full references should be added at the end. There are also odd page
numbers that refer to specific points in the original publications
from which the excerpts have been taken, but that are out of place
here (e.g., Freud's essay).

_Vampires over the Ages: A Cultural Analysis of Scientific, Literary,
and Cinematic Representations_, edited by Tomislav Longinovic,
presents the development of the vampire figure over the ages and
discusses its literary and cinematic adaptations. These portrayals
are mostly historical in nature and deal with foundational texts and
filmic narratives. The selection of essays represents various
literary styles and traditions of the vampire image and deserves
recognition from scholars who work on the vampire topic and
instructors who think of incorporating the vampire subject into their
teaching materials. The general public would also be entertained and
educated in reading this tome.

Notes

[1]. Thomas J. Garza, ed., _The Vampire in Slavic Cultures,_ rev. ed.
(San Diego, CA: Cognella Academic Publishing, 2010), and _Slavic
Blood: The Vampire in Russian and East European Cultures,_ 2nd ed.
(San Diego, CA: Cognella Academic Publishing, 2018); Jan Louis
Perkowski, _Vampire Lore: From the Writings of Jan Louis Perkowski_
(Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2006).

[2]. Noémi Szécsi,_ The Finno-Ugrian Vampire,_ trans. Peter
Sherwood (London: Marion Boyars Publishers, 2012). See an excerpt in
English translation from Pahutiak's vampire novel, _Sluha z
Dobromylia_ [_The Minion from Dobromyl'_] (Kyiv: Duliby, 2006). For
this novel, Pahutiak received the Shevchenko National Prize in 2010,
the highest state prize in Ukraine for works of culture and arts:
Halyna Pahutiak, "The Minion from Dobromyl' or The Vampire's Son,"
trans. Michael M. Naydan, _Metamorphoses_ 20, no. 1 (Spring 2012):
218-37.

[3]. See a recently published anthology of critical literature
dealing with the vampire: J. Gordon Melton and Alysa Hornick, eds.,
_The Vampire in Folklore, History, Literature, Film and Television: A
Comprehensive Bibliography _(Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015).

Citation: Svitlana Krys. Review of Longinović, Toma, _Vampires over
the Ages: A Cultural Analysis of Scientific, Literary, and Cinematic
Representations_. H-SHERA, H-Net Reviews. July, 2019.
URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=53205

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
License.




-- 
Best regards,

Andrew Stewart



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