Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Interesting Shorts: Graour the Monster

Graour the Monster was a short story from 1903 by Camille Debans and can be found reproduced in English in the volume the Misfortunes of John Bull, translated by the inimitable Brian Stableford.

It starts with an introduction that discusses the brucolaca, the Greek revenants known in Western Europe as vampires and tells us “a man—or a woman—has just died, and is buried. Soon, the rumor spreads that he emerges nocturnally from his tomb and goes to isolated houses to suck the blood of the living, especially that of young women and young men. In reality, he is not entirely dead. His heart, it is said, is still palpitating and he strives to renew life by gorging on that blood, which causes his arteries to pulse.” He even ties in Charles Nodier and some of his material and mentions the idea that in the Carpathians a lunar eclipse is caused by a vampire eating the moon.

Our story is set in Vidra, Romania, and starts proper with mountain men running through the countryside shouting “Brucolaca! Brucolaca!” as they chase an Englishman. They are led by a muscular dwarf, as wide as he is high, called Graour.

The Englishman is Doctor Mathews and he makes monsters. Indeed Graour was one of his creations (essentially by placing a growing boy in a “mould” to retard upward growth, a little like a bonsai I guess). Graour is seeking revenge and looking to free any of the Doctor’s experiments he can find and has tricked the mountain men into joining him by suggesting a vampire when there isn’t one. So what we have is essentially belief in vampires. However we do get professed lore.

Whilst it is suggested that they are nocturnal, the Mountain Men are not 100% sure that this is accurate and we also hear that they feed through the victim’s chest and “that brucolacas suck the blood of their victims with such fury and in such great quantity that it emerges thereafter from all their pores.” To destroy one, “two or three infallible means existed of rendering a vampire impotent. One was to pierce the heart of the dead man with a sharpened stake; the second was to plunge the cadaver into quicklime; the third was to crush it beneath an enormous cube of granite so that it could no longer budge—but the last procedure was not very certain.”

It is interesting to note that the story mentions a castle razed in the reign of Vlad… IV.

This was an interesting misadventure, which hinged on the belief in vampires even if the monsters were man made. The page for the Blackcoat Press volume is here.


Unknown said...

Sounds interesting story.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

:) glad you like the sound of it