Thursday, April 24, 2014

Interesting Shorts: The Vampire

The Vampire by Jan Naruda is an odd little story, which appears in anthologies from time to time. I wanted to look at it here as, despite various sources suggesting it was published in 1920, it is a piece of pre-Dracula 19th century literature and one that hails from the Czech Republic.

Naruda was born in 1831 and died in 1891 and was a journalist by trade. I have seen an approximate date of 1884 for his tale. The vampire of the title does show supernatural powers but is not your typical undead. He is a Greek artist, perfectly at ease in the sunshine. The story takes place on the Island of Prinkipo (off the coast of Turkey, near Istanbul) and the narrator is holidaying.

The boat the narrator arrived on also carried the Greek and a Polish family. The daughter of the family is ailing. An hotelier tells the narrator that the locals call the artist the Vampire as “he sketches only corpses”, however he always sketches them immediately prior to their death. In this case it was the daughter of the Polish family.

Is the man simply, and unerringly, drawn to the dying? Or, perhaps, it is he who kills them, an energy vampire maybe? The story is silent and so it could be either. I did like the fact that the author was Czech and it was an interesting pre-Stoker dip into vampirism.

You can read the story here.

No comments: