Haunted On Ghosts, Witches, Vampires, Zombies and other Monsters of the Natural and Supernatural worlds by Leo Braudy is an amazing book published by Yale Press.
I guess that after that you will have read this book you will find other material if you want to continue to discover these haunted creatures because this author is extraordinary in the descriptions and inter-connections created in every chapter spacing from middle age, modernity, movies, authors in an aesthetic tourbillon of situations, facts, anecdotes and... haunted creatures.
But what causes fear? It's a strong questions and each historical period and human condition contains the proper answer, like also the devoted haunted creatures venerated during the various centuries.
At the moment vampires. It will says realistically something of the state of things of the society don't you think so?
What we don't know, what we can't see, can be and it is often reason for feeling fear and terror although these two feelings have different shades as you will see.
What is there under the bed? What if the kid switches out light? A monster or a creature of the other world creating devastating harm on him? Or just, nothing else than the darkness, a condition where the impossibility of seeing clearly create imaginary creations? Connection between sex and the most profound sphere of the unconscious is also taken in consideration thanks to Freud and Jung.
Fears are often associated to disasters. A quake, every quake, (I remember the one of Norcia, Italy, two years ago) brings with it the idea of a divine punishment for what caused by disgraceful and corrupted men. It happened to Lisbon when a quake centuries ago was seen as a sign of divine punishment for the depraved acts of men.
At the same time if people were diffident regarding horror stories, thanks also at original stories and new characters like The Vampyre by Polidori and later the one by Stoker Dracula, Frankenstein by Shelley, Jekyll and Hyde by Stevenson, people started to become affectionate to the genre, and what was born just as a literary product at first became later something else, involving also the rest of mediums, movies and TV series first of all.
There are various kind of monsters. The ones created by traditions; let's remember witches and other creatures of the ancestral imaginary world devil including.
Vampires are an affectionate demoniac creatures of our times. The non-dead person spending time in a coffin during the day. Once night arrives he goes out, wandering in this world, searching for some "victims" and fresh blood to suck, his only possibility of surviving in this other state of limbo. Who is a vampire?
A demoniac creature: substantially he is not dead, but can't be completely considered alive, because he can't eats, he can't drinks, he can't see the light of the sun, he is damned in a condition of non-life but life is still there for him and darkness is his only friend.
If Polidori started to give a shape to the vampyre thanks to what he saw staying close to Lord Byron, Bram Stoker changed the character of the vampire creating a dissolute creature, plenty of sexuality finalized at his main and more urgent purpose: sucking blood for survive and causing harms and illnesses to other ones.
Not just vampires, but also serious illness like swine flu, Ebola and AIDS have been seen in the past as a sort of divine punishment.
Monsters are not just outside us, but also within us and a chapter is dedicated at the case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, passing through the monsters created by men in another one.
Mr. Braudy is absolutely enchanting in this book that mixes religion with movies, literature, history, psychology, old creeds, legends.
I highly suggest it to everyone!
I thank Yale University Press for the physical copy of this book.
Anna Maria Polidori