The Vampire, a Literary Fairy Tale Adaptation

I’ve posted a new translation to Ephemera, a literary fairy tale called “The Vampire.” It’s another find from Ganso y Pulpo, the archive of forgotten nineteenth century Spanish literature. The tale is by an author that I’ve not translated before: the journalist, essayist, playwright, and author of short stories, Ramón García Sánchez (c.1840 – 1885).

ElVampiro

  • The Vampire (El vampiro): When a mysterious rich old man moves into an ancient castle, healthy young men from the surrounding villages begin to vanish. Their disappearances coincide with the occurences of wild but unexplained festivities in the castle. Finally, the young women of the village unite to solve the mystery and combat the evil that has come amongst them.

“The Vampire” is a variation of folktale type ATU 514, commonly referred to as A Shift of Sex. Folktales of this type feature a young woman who must disguise herself as a man to complete a quest; the transformed “hero” then becomes the object of amorous affection for another woman in the story. The interesting part is that in many folktales of this type, the disguised heroine magically becomes a man, and marries the woman who loves him! That doesn’t happen here, but it’s still a fun and interesting tale.

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The Devil’s Rosebush

Here’s an interesting combination: a pastiche of an eighteenth century German gothic “deal with the devil” story, written by a nineteenth century Spanish author, featuring a protagonist with the not-terribly-Germanic name, “Dick.” How could I resist translating that?

Rosal Del Diablo

This is another odd little tale from Pedro Escamilla, courtesy of that treasure trove of forgotten nineteenth century Spanish periodical literature, Ganso y Pulpo. I’ve just put it up on Ephemera.

  • The Devil’s Rosebush (El rosal del diablo): Our hero Dick is in love with the innkeeper’s daughter, Federica. He’s so desperate to win her hand that he even ventures into the Black Forest on St. John’s Eve, a night when they say the devil is out, looking for souls, and willing to bargain for them. Will Dick gain his heart’s desire?

Unlike, say, Poe’s “Metzengerstein” (“A Tale in Imitation of the German”), or even L.A. Wilmer’s “Spukenswald,” “The Devil’s Rosebush” doesn’t feel in the least like a German story. One gets the impression that Escamilla was only familiar with German gothic to a limited degree, but it’s still a fun piece. I hope you enjoy it.


Illustration for “El rosal del diablo” from El Periódico para Todos, No. 26, 1875. Illustrator unknown. Source: Hemerotica Digital (Digital Periodical Archive), Biblioteca Nacional de España.

Featured image: Vintage rose illustration, artist unknown. Source: Rawpixel Ltd.

The Stories of Pedro Escamilla

Although he was one of the most prolific Spanish authors of the 19th century, Pedro Escamilla seems little known today, even (as far as I can tell) in Spain. Not even the dates or circumstances of his birth and death are certain; the website Ganso y Pulpo estimates that he was born around 1840 and died around 1890.

Retrato Escamilla
Pedro Escamilla
Source: Ganso y Pulpo

And yet he is said to have published something like 400 stories, 35 or 40 plays, and at least 34 novels. some of them under the pen name Félix X. He was also rumored to have ghost-written works for other authors.

Today, he is probably best remembered (if at all) for his short stories in the fantastic and horror genres, which have been compared to the work of Poe and of Erckmann-Chatrian.

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