Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New Englands Vampires

ISBN 10: 0786708999 / ISBN 13: 9780786708994
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Synopsis: Forget Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula. In nineteenth-century New England another sort of vampire was relentlessly ravishing the populace, or so it was believed by many rural communities suffering the plague of tuberculosis. Indeed, as this fascinating book shows, the vampire of folk superstition figures significantly in the attempt of early Americans to reasonably explain and vanquish the dreaded affliction then known as consumption. In gripping narrative detail, folklorist Michael E. Bell reconstructs a distant world, where on March 17, 1892, three corpses were exhumed from a Rhode Island cemetery. One of them, Mercy Brown, who had succumbed to consumption, appeared to have turned over in her grave. Mercy’s family cut out her heart, which still held clots of blood, burned it on a nearby rock, and fed the ashes to her ailing brother. To Mercy’s community she had become a vampire living a spectral existence and consuming the vitality of her siblings. From documents written as early as 1790 to a recent conversation with a descendant of Mercy Brown, Bell investigates twenty cases in which the vampiric dead were exhumed to save the ailing living. He also explores a widespread folk tradition that has survived generations, as ordinary people today strive to battle extraordinary diseases like Ebola or AIDS with a deeply rooted belief in their power to heal themselves. “Bell’s absorbing account is ... a major contribution to the study of New England folk beliefs.”—Boston Globe “Filled with ghostly tales, glowing corpses, rearranged bones, visits to hidden graveyards.... This is a marvelous book.”—Providence Journal

About the Author: MICHAEL E. BELL was the consulting folklorist at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission in Providence. He has served as a scholar or consultant on numerous projects for the media, particularly those concerned with folklore, folk art, oral history, and humanities programs for young adults. He splits his time between Pawtuxet Village, Rhode Island and McKinney, Texas.

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Michael E. Bell
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Bell, Michael E.
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Bell, Michael E.
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Book Description Carroll & Graf, New York, 2001. hardcover. Book Condition: Fine copy in fine dust jacket. Illus. with photos (illustrator). 1st edition.. 8vo, 337 pp. Bookseller Inventory # 071718

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Michael E. Bell
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Bell, Michael E.
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Book Description NY. 2001. Carroll & Graf., 2001. yellow & black hardbound 8vo. 8º (octavo). dustwrapper in protective plastic book jacket cover. very fine cond. mint cond. looks new. like new. as new. binding square & tight. covers clean. edges clean. contents free of all markings. dustwrapper in fine cond. not worn or torn or price clipped. nice clean copy. no library markings, store stamps, stickers, bookplates, no names, inking , underlining, remainder markings etc ~first edition so stated. first printing (nap). b&w frontis. illustration. xiv+337p.+ "about the author". b&w map. 2 appendices. notes. works cited. index. american history. folklore. mythology. religion. psychology. ~Has Michael E. Bell discovered the remnants of a ghoulish superstition, or a reasoned attempt to vanquish a terrible plague? Close your eyes and imagine' a vampire: Your mind's eye may conjure up Count Dracula with bared teeth and a shiny tuxedo. But; another kind of vampire was believed to live in rural New England long ago. Author and folklorist Michael E. Bell has spent twenty years pursuing this forgotten vampire tradition. His discoveries will surprise and enthrall skeptics; believers; and all readers of this engaging book. Bellís odyssey began in 1981 when Rhode Islander Everett Peck told him a family story passed down for generations. In 1892; months after young Mercy Brown succumbed to tuberculosis; her body was exhumed from a local graveyard. Relatives cut out her heart; burned it on a nearby rock; and fed the ashes to her dying brother; hoping to cure him of the wasting disease. They feared that Mercy had become a vampire; sapping her siblingís Vitality to provide sustenance for her own spectral existence. Or; had she become a scapegoat; blamed for the baffling affliction ravaging her family? While such writers as Henry David Thoreau; H.P. Lovecraft and Amy Lowell drew on portions of this tradition in their writings; Bell captures the tale in its entirety for the first time. He takes readers on the road throughout New England; as he visits legend trippers and outright skeptics, old cemeteries, and small town museums. With humor, insight, and sympathy, he uncovers story upon story of dying people who some believed were food for the dead~the source of life after death for their vampire kin. Bell introduces us to ordinary people confronted with an extraordinary illness that pre~modern medicine could neither explain nor cure. Bell also makes comparisons to seemingly inexplicable forces in our own midst, like Ebola mad cow and AIDS, showing that while times have changed; our need for answers has not. He shows that our vampire~seeking ancestors battled disease with the most potent tools they possessed~an instinctual belief in their power to heal themselves, aided by their folk customs. Bookseller Inventory # 5111503

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Bell, Michael E.
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Book Description Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2001. Hard cover. Book Condition: Very Good+. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good+. Yellow / black hardcovers with gilt titles to the spine. In very good** condition, tightly bound with a bright, clean interior. Spine end bumping. The DJ is unlcipped with a small tear to the middle of the front spine hinge and flap edge. In very good condition. ". In gripping narrative detail, folklorist Michael E. Bell reconstructs a distant world, where on March 17, 1892, three corpses were exhumed from a Rhode Island cemetery. One of them, Mercy Brown, who had succumbed to consumption, appeared to have turned over in her grave. Mercy's family cut out her heart, which still held clots of blood, burned it on a nearby rock, and fed the ashes to her ailing brother. To Mercy's community she had become a vampire living a spectral existence and consuming the vitality of her siblings. From documents written as early as 1790 to a recent conversation with a descendant of Mercy Brown, Bell investigates twenty cases in which the vampiric dead were exhumed to save the ailing living. "; 1.25 x 9.32 x 6.35 Inches; 337 pages. Bookseller Inventory # 9486

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