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I got this book at treadwells when I was there a couple weeks ago. I had remembered reading Montague Summers book on witchcraft, and I thought enjoying it, so I thought it would be fun to see what he had to say about Vampires. I ended up enjoying the book a great deal. In many ways it was exactly what Id hoped the Golden Bough was going to be and wasnt. It was a very charming collection of folk lore, often told as interesting stories. The authors agenda seemed to be much smaller, and while he did occasionally slip from the topic and take some rather strange diversions, they were almost wholly very entertaining. The edition I bought had a brief introduction and history of the author, I was surprised to see that he lived and wrote so recently, there is a wonderful archaic writing style, as well as seeing that he was rather a devout catholic, though the more I read of the book the more obvious this became. The book looked at Greece and Rome, Britain, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, modern Greece (which was the least interesting) and lastly Russia, Romania and Bulgaria. The book had some rather wonderful passages. It contained the first chapter of Varney the Vampire which seemed terribly overdone but quite fun. There was a great extract from Apulius that had a very long story about a young man who had to guard a corpse overnight from witches. It also had huge chunks of Latin, Greek and French, a lot largely un-translated which made Bill happy, and made me happy I have someone to translate for me! There was a great list of 18th century sources published about Vampires all from Leipzig which made one author refer to the vampire as the le diable a leipzeig which because of Treffen I found extra funny. My favourite quote of the book though came from the chapter on Russia which began, It is no matter for surprise that in so sad and sick a country as Russia the tradition of the Vampire should assume, if it be possible, an even intense darkness. (282). Which reminded me again that I really do need to read more Russian literature! In many ways this book reminded me of the zhi guai tales of the strange that I am so fond of reading in China. It was obvious in this book that despite being a 20th century English man Summers still believed in the stories he was talking about and thought the examples he was using were credible. This is interesting as lately scholars such as Glen Dudbrige and Robert Ford Campany have been arguing that the Chinese stories should not be viewed as fiction but representative of peoples beliefs and ordinary lives, (as if the supernatural element must be believed then the day to day details must also be accurate). It was nice to see a modern example where this was clearly the case and could possible give further arguments against the tales being written as fiction. It was a very enjoyable book and I think I shall have to track down more Montague Summers for further reading. This book was actually a sequel to one he wrote earlier called Vampire Kith and Kin which I shall have to find.

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