Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Interesting Shorts: The Blood Drinking Corpse

Whilst the first known English translation of this short story dates to 1913 (confirmed), therefore suggesting that it didn’t influence the developing vampire genre in the 19th Century, the interesting thing about this short tale is that it has been dated back to 1679.

Written by P’u Sung-ling (1640-1715) it never mentions the word vampire and is very short indeed (as are many of Sung-ling’s collected tales). It follows three merchants who are forced to sleep in a barn due to lack of available beds in a village. One of them cannot sleep and so he becomes witness to the other two attacked in their sleep by a girl.

At first described as her giving a sleeping merchant a long kiss, the description becomes one of “eyes, from which a red flame was shining, and sharp teeth, half-exposed in a ferocious smile, which opened and shut by turns on the throat of the sleeper.” She is recognised as drinking their blood.

The conscious merchant flees but is chased. The next morning he is found drained but the corpse of the woman is also found, blood from her mouth spilt down her clothing and her fingernails embedded in a tree. She is recognised as the chief of elders daughter, who had not been buried as they were awaiting an auspicious astrological alignment for the burial.

So a Chinese tale that shows us tropes that are familiar, dated back to the seventeenth century.

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