Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Vampires! At Hill!

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

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LSU Libraries Special Collections is expanding upon and growing a new collecting area — we are looking at the world of Vampires!  This collection builds on vampire fiction by Louisiana authors or with a Louisiana setting already held in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collection (LLMVC), of which there are more than 100 titles, including DVDs (True Blood) and other works of fiction.  Recent acquisitions include over 400 volumes of Anne Rice vampire fiction translated into numerous languages.  Special Collections’ growing Vampire Collection also complements the library’s existing holdings of 18th and 19th-century Gothic fiction, tales of mystery and the macabre, science fiction and fantasy, early occult science, and “outsider” literature (i.e. the Codrescu collection).  Academic fields of study that it would support include literature, history, folklore, psychology, religion, foreign languages, art history, graphic design, GLBT studies, film studies, and popular culture.

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Vampire literature is a publishing phenomenon that has been growing since at least the 1720s.  Originating in central Europe, it spread to England in the mid eighteenth century. The first major work on vampires published in English, in 1759, was a translation of the French Benedictine monk Augustin Calmet’s treatise on apparitions and vampires. The work proved popular and was retranslated in 1850, helping to cement the notion of vampires in the Western European consciousness.  Special Collections holds both of these volumes.

 

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The late eighteenth century saw the rise of Gothic fiction. In the early 1800s, Robert Southey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lord Byron were including vampires in their poetry. The first major work of vampire fiction in English was The Vampyre, a novella published in 1819 by Bryon’s personal physician, John William Polidori.  Special Collections recently acquired a copy of the work.

Vampires appear in many works of Victorian fiction, culminating in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).  The genre was popular in France and Germany as well, important examples including Paul Féval’s Le Chevalier Ténèbre (1860), La Vampire (1865), and La Ville Vampire (1874);  Marie Nizet’s Le Capitaine Vampire (1879); and Hans Wachenhusens Der Vampyr – Novelle aus Bulgarien (1878).

In the twentieth century, vampire literature crossed from traditional Gothic fiction into science fiction.  As early as 1908, we find vampires in outer space in Gustave Le Rouge’s Le prisonnier de la planète Mars.  Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954) is set in a futuristic Los Angeles.  Multi-volume vampire epics, of which more than 200 have been published in English alone, trace their origin to Marilyn Ross’s Barnabas Collins series, published from 1966 to 1971.  Anne Rice’s 10-book Vampire Chronicles (1976-2003) has sold 80 million copies worldwide.

Scholars in a variety of disciplines use vampire literature to explore a myriad of themes, from feminism to post-colonialism.  Gay vampire fiction is largely a recent development, but vampire fiction has always been charged with sexuality, and even Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 novella Carmilla featured a female vampire with lesbian inclinations.  The genre has also crossed into juvenile literature, comic books, and graphic novels.  Several magazines have been published, featuring interviews with actors, stories about vampire films, and news of book releases and vampire-related events.  To see a bit more about the Vampire Collection at Hill Memorial Library, watch our new and exciting YouTube video.    For questions about the collection, contact Michael Taylor, Assistant Curator of Books.

Ghost Stories at Hill! Join us!

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

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Join us on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 for a talk and reading with Folklorist and LSU Professor Emeritus Frank Decaro. A book signing and halloween candy reception will follow. The talk will begin at 5:30 pm. This event is free and open to the public. Frank de Caro is professor emeritus of English at Louisiana State University. A folklorist by training, he served as president of the Louisiana Folklore Society and editor of the Louisiana Folklore Miscellany.

Originally printed in 1944, DeCaro reintroduces this classic volume, Ghost Stories of New Orleans, by Jeanne deLavigne (d. 1962), which has been republished by LSU Press (October 2013).

Drawing largely on popular legend dating back to the 1800s, deLavigne provides vivid details of old New Orleans with a cast of spirits that represent the ethnic mélange of the city set amid period homes, historic neighborhoods, and forgotten taverns. Combining folklore, newspaper accounts, and deLavigne’s own voice, these phantasmal tales range from the tragic—brothers, lost at sea as children, haunt a chapel on Thomas Street in search of their mother—to graphic depictions of torture, mutilation, and death.

Folklorist and foreword contributor Frank de Caro places the writer and her work in context for modern readers. He uncovers new information about deLavigne’s life and describes her book’s pervasive lingering influence on the Crescent City’s culture today.

A New Orleans native, Jeanne deLavigne (d. 1962) also collaborated with Jacques Rutherford on the novels And the Garden Waited and Fox Fire.

A small exhibition of ghostly items from Hill Memorial Library will be on display just for this event!

See more about this book at: http://lsupress.org/books/detail/ghost-stories-of-old-new-orleans/#sthash.Ea4KUsFz.dpuf

Reading, Writing, and Louisiana Lit

Friday, November 9th, 2012

The exhibition “Louisiana for Bibliophiles: A History of Reading in the Bayou State” is now online.


Excerpt from the exhibition section “Women’s Reading & Novels”:

Proper young ladies read works that contributed to their moral character, spiritual growth, or development in the domestic sphere; novels were often condemned as corrupting influences.

Sarah Wright wrote her daughters Esther and Mary, in school at the Female Institute in Mansfield, Louisiana, and cautioned them against reading novels.  Her admonitions prompted Esther to write in response:

I am very sorry I ever touched a novel. I begin to feel the effects of it. I have promised not to read any more while I am going to school, and hope I’ll not wish to read any afterward.  When I get to reading any beautiful poetry, or other things, I sometimes think, I could not read a novel.

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Image from Harvey Newcomb, The Young Lady’s Guide to the Harmonious Development of Christian Character. New York: M. W. Dodd, 1853.


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