In this Book

Food for the Dead
summary
For nineteenth-century New Englanders, "vampires" lurked behind tuberculosis. To try to rid their houses and communities from the scourge of the wasting disease, families sometimes relied on folk practices, including exhuming and consuming the bodies of the deceased. Author and folklorist Michael E. Bell spent twenty years pursuing stories of the vampire in New England. While writers like H. P. Lovecraft, Henry David Thoreau, and Amy Lowell drew on portions of these stories in their writings, Bell brings the actual practices to light for the first time. He shows that the belief in vampires was widespread, and, for some families, lasted well into the twentieth century. With humor, insight, and sympathy, he uncovers story upon story of dying men, women, and children who believed they were food for the dead. This Wesleyan paperback edition includes an extensive preface by the author unveiling some of the new cases he's learned about since Food for the Dead was first published in 2001.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-1
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. iii-iv
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Preface to the Wesleyan paperback edition
  2. pp. ix-xxxviii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xxxix-xl
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  1. Prologue
  2. pp. xli-xliii
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  1. 1. This Awful Thing
  2. pp. 1-17
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  1. 2. Testing a Horrible Superstition
  2. pp. 18-38
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  1. 3. Remarkable Happenings
  2. pp. 39-57
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  1. 4. The Cause of Their Trouble Lay There Before Them
  2. pp. 58-80
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  1. 5. I Am Waiting and Watching For You
  2. pp. 81-108
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  1. 6. I Thought For Sure They Were Coming After Me
  2. pp. 109-133
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  1. 7. Don't Be a Rational Adult
  2. pp. 134-155
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  1. 8. Never Strangers True Vampires Be
  2. pp. 156-177
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  1. 9. Ghoulish, Wolfish Shapes
  2. pp. 178-201
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  1. 10. The Unending River of Life
  2. pp. 202-225
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  1. 11. Relicks of Many Old Customs
  2. pp. 226-251
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  1. 12. A Ghoul in Every Deserted Fireplace
  2. pp. 252-278
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  1. 13. Is That True of All Vampires?
  2. pp. 279-295
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  1. 14. Food for the Dead
  2. pp. 296-303
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  1. Appendices
  2. pp. 305-305
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 306-322
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  1. Works Cited
  2. pp. 323-331
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 332-337
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  1. About the Author
  2. pp. 339-339
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  1. Images
  2. pp. 340-347
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