Vampires ‘visit’ Six and Twenty Club

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Hostes Patti Cook entertained the Six and Twenty Club with a Halloween themed afternoon.

A skeleton wearing a witch’s hat greeted members. There were pumpkins, witches, goblins and a flaming caldron to get members in the mood.

Program leader Karen Buckley continued the theme with the history of vampires.

Vampires are a relatively new type of spooky monster according to Nick Groom, author of “The Vampire: A New History.”

The bureaucrats of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were sent to investigate a strange happening in the Balkans during the early 18th century. They took testimony of witnesses and created and circulated reports about the man who had allegedly returned from the grave and attacked the living.

The townsfolk caught the evil-doer, cut off his head, staked his body and burned it.

The strange incident was widely discussed among the clergy (Roman Catholic and Protestant), the intelligentsia (Enlightenment philosophers such as Voltaire and Rousseau) and government functionaries. All decided (for differing reasons) that vampires were not real.

But similar episodes were reported in Eastern and Central Europe during the next years and the public gave some credence to the stories.

In 1816, John William Polidori wrote “The Vampyre” with a villain embodying many traits of our modern vampire and the story became a sensation. The Victorians loved tales of blood and gore and vampires were popular subjects.

In 1897, Bram Stoker, a British theater manager and writer, published Dracula and vampires as we know them became popular stars of stage and screen. Actors such as Bella Lugosi and Christopher Lee made careers playing vampiric characters.

The vampire could be used as a device to examine many literary themes. They inspired fashion (slinky and modern), comics (“The Addams Family”), many movies and TV shows (“Dark Shadows”, “True Blook”, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and so on).

They were an inspiration for the Goth subculture and Emo music. Ms. Buckley has circulated Deborah Harkness’ “A Discovery of Witches” in which the male hero (a thoroughly modern tall, dark and handsome Christian and conflicted vampire) falls in love with a witch descended from the first witch executed at Salem.

We needed some fun for the season.

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