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The lovely [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313 spotted this book in a charity shop and kindly bought it for me, and I read it mainly while on last year's DracSoc holiday to the Czech Republic (LJ / DW). Other editions of the same book are entitled Vampire and Werewolf Stories, which is considerably more accurate, given that it actually alternates stories about the two throughout. The table of contents runs thus:

'Dracula' (an extract) by Bram Stoker
'The Werewolf' by Barbara Leonie Picard
'The Vampire of Kaldenstein' by Frederick Cowles
'Freeze-up' by Anthony Masters
'Drink my Blood' by Richard Matheson
'Terror in the Tatras' by Winifred Finlay
'Day Blood', by Roger Zelazny
'Getting Dead', by William F. Nolan
'The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
'The Werewolf' (an extract) by Clemence Housman
'Mama Gone' by Jane Yolen
'Revelations in Black' by Carl Jacobi
'Gabriel Ernest' by Saki (H.H. Munro)
'The Horror at Chilton Castle' by Joseph Payne Brennan
'Count Dracula' by Woody Allen
'The Werewolf' by Angela Carter
'The Drifting Snow' by August Derleth
'Howl' by Alan Durant

Obviously I'd read some before, and I skipped the extract from Dracula (which covers Lucy's staking) for that reason, but generally I just re-read anyway, on the grounds that it had been a while with most of the others. And although I don't generally tend to seek out werewolf stories, I was quite glad of their inclusion, a) because I hadn't read any of those, b) because many of them were pretty good and c) because it later turned out to put me in a much better position to appreciate Gail-Nina's talk on werewolves at the DracSoc Whitby weekend in September (LJ / DW). I'm not going to try to comment on every story in the collection, especially since some were fairly average and forgettable, but these are some responses to those which most struck me:

'The Werewolf' by Barbara Leonie Picard - this was the one I was most glad of having read when listening to Gail-Nina's talk. It's basically a translation / retelling of this medieval French werewolf legend, and as such represents the genre in an early form (not, of course, the earliest - ask Petronius). Unlike many later werewolf stories, it says nothing about how people become werewolves: the main character just is one, and his condition isn't affected by the moon either. Rather, he goes off as a wolf for several days a week, but can only become a man again when he puts on his clothes - very symbolic! It's a simple tale, simply told, but very much worth reading if you're interested in the evolution of werewolf mythology.

'The Vampire of Kaldenstein' by Frederick Cowles - this story would have been fine if it had been written any time before 1897. Instead, it was written in 1938, and yet is nothing more than a collection of staple Gothic horror tropes. I ended up feeling profoundly irritated both by the fact that it had been written and by the fact that I had wasted half an hour of my life reading it.

'Drink my Blood' by Richard Matheson - I've read this one before, but I really like it and am glad to have the opportunity to say so here! It was published in 1951, and I don't know of any earlier example of story about someone who is inspired by vampire fiction to want to become a vampire themselves. In this case, our hero is a young boy called Jules who sees Universal's Dracula at the cinema (it has to be theirs because of the publication date), and thereafter becomes fixated on trying to become a vampire himself. In fact, in this respect it is a forerunner of Aickman's 'Pages from a Young Girl's Journal', which I wrote about yesterday, and which likewise (on one level anyway!) presents a heroine whose willingness to become a vampire is probably strongly influenced by Lord Byron and his ilk. Matheson is also a little ambiguous about Jules' fate, but unlike Aickman he allows his character to recognise the range of possible outcomes for him, giving him a moment of stark horror when it occurs to him for the first time that the bat which he has let loose from the local zoo may not actually be Count Dracula after all: "Suddenly his mind was filled with a terrible clarity. He knew that he was lying half-naked on garbage and letting a flying bat drink his blood." He also uses an omniscient narrative voice to specify in the closing lines that the bat really was the Count, now freed and restored to human form thanks to Jules' blood. Whether Jules then simply dies, or dies and becomes a vampire, is a matter for the reader. As for Matheson, his tale of a kid inspired to irrational actions by vampire fiction was proved remarkably prescient by the case of the 'Gorbals Vampire' three years later - though that is generally considered to have been inspired by horror comics, rather than films.

'Day Blood', by Roger Zelazny - a nice little tale with a twist from 1985. We follow a male character who seems at first to be a human vampire-protector, but proves in fact to be their apex predator, keeping them alive so that he can feed on them in spite of their attempts to ward him off with a sprig of mistletoe and a statue of Cernunnos. It probably seemed cleverer on initial publication than it does now, but it's still worth a read.

'The Werewolf' (an extract) by Clemence Housman - an extract from an 1896 novel which is probably the best werewolf story in this collection. It is basically a chase to the death through the snow, with a female werewolf pursued by a human hunter bent on revenge for the way she has seduced his brother. The way Housman captures the wild landscape, the relentlessness of the pursuit, the growing pain as the human hunter ploughs onwards and his steely determination to see through his goal is beautiful. I wouldn't cast aside the full novel if it came my way.

'Mama Gone' by Jane Yolen - a strangely affecting story from 1991 which I hadn't come across before, about a little girl whose mother dies in childbirth and soon begins plaguing the village from beyond the grave. It had quite a lot of raw stuff about the family processing their loss, which certainly struck home with me. Indeed, that's what the story is 'really' about, under the cloak of vampirism - a little girl coming to terms with her mother's death, until it moves from a thing of horror to a memory of love. All this culminates powerfully in the girl going to the mother's grave at night to confront the grey corpse who rises from it, and to reach across the gulf between living and dead to ask her to stop harming them. It's a leap of faith which could as easily end in disaster as success, but the power of their family bond cuts through. The mother hears her plea, gives herself over to the sun and fades to become the Good Dead, rather than the Bad.

'The Werewolf' by Angela Carter - short but good, as you would expect from the author. It's basically Little Red Riding Hood, except that the grandmother is also the wolf. The young girl triumphs.

That'll do for this collection, I think. Good to read, and good to mull over here. Another one to sit on my shelf of vampire short story collections... :-)

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  • 24 Nov 2020, 09:10
    Ciao caro.
    Ho ascoltato la canzone Domine Salvum Fac su youtube. Ripete la parola Domine due volte dopo che segue Salvum Fac e non capisco oltre. Ma mi sembra che il testo non corrisponda del tutto…
  • 8 Nov 2020, 13:25
    I think just 'not being Trump' proved to be enough!
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    Yes, that's it. Just having someone in charge who isn't actively making things worse for the world is a big relief.
  • 8 Nov 2020, 11:34
    There are many, many doubts and worries. But still, there is an enormous rock of anguish that has been weighting on my soul since the first days after that monster's election which has now lifted.
  • 8 Nov 2020, 11:32
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