Friday, October 16, 2015
Milovan Glišić’s 1880 vampire story Posle Devedeset Godina, or After 90 Years, had been on my radar after seeing the film based on it, Leptirica. However the story had – as far as I knew – never been translated into English.
James Lyon, as well as writing the vampire novel Kiss of the Butterfly, was in a unique position being a vampire fan and author, living in Serbia (indeed he is an expert in Balkan history), who has actually visited the water mill central to the legend the story is based on… and I might have suggested that the story desperately needed translation.
You might ask why? The vampire originates, through the vampire panics, in Serbia – Arnold Paole originated from Ottoman controlled Serbia and the word vampire reached Western Europe, and more specifically entered into English, through descriptions of his case. The insights that a folk derived piece of literature can offer the student of the vampire (both in folklore and the media vampire) are important and, in many ways, quite unique.
This story does not feature Paole but the folktale vampire Sava Savanović and the lore that the story uses is lifted from Slavic folk tradition. The aforementioned film follows the story fairly accurately – though the characters are somewhat different in motivation – until the film grafted on a large coda not present in the story. But with the release of the translated book you can discover just how close for yourself.
I’m not going to mention lore particularly in this article as I cover that in the foreword for the translation, which I wrote.