Monday, 10 July 2017

Vampires, Zombies, and Christianity

"Christian archetypes in vampire and zombie myths/texts" is how I worded one topic idea in my ongoing "Research Ideas & Writing Topics" file that I carry around on my mobile phone. I've always had a thing for vampire movies, and although I'm not that into zombie film, I would occasionally watch one. The Korean movie "Train to Busan" (2016) was quite good.

"Gog and Magog consuming humans."
—Thomas de Kent's Roman de toute chevalerie,
Paris manuscript, 14th cent.
A couple of years back it occurred to me that vampires and zombies are actually reconstructions of Christian themes. Drinking the blood of Christ in order to obtain immortality may have been part of the inspiration for the Gothic vampire genre, and the biblical eschatological reference to the Gog and Magog which some have interpreted as a resurrected army of the damned who come to attack the saints and the City of God, which is part of the final battle between God and Satan in the Book of Revelation. In some of the later Alexander myths, such as Thomas of Kent's "Roman de toute chevalerie", Gog and Magog are depicted as zombie-like cannibals that hide in the dark (caves).

In any case, it turns out I'm not the only literature scholar to have noted the connection between these Gothic genres and Christianity. Oxford University Press just published a book by English literature professor Greg Garrett, called "Living with the Living Dead: The Wisdom of the Zombie Apocalypse".

I have not yet read his book, so I'm not sure how much his ideas and my own overlap, but I did listen to an interview with him, in which he discusses his book and the obsession popular culture has with zombie apocalypses and how it connects with religion. You can listen to the interview here: Zombie Time with Greg Garrett

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