István Pivárcsi’s 2012 book, Just a Bite is subtitled “A Transylvania Vampire Expert’s Short History of the Undead.” Yet at the time I profiled the book for an “Upcoming Books” instalment, it was the “First time I’ve heard of him” (Hogg 2012). After all, his name hardly ranks alongside such luminaries as Augustin Calmet, Montague Summers, Paul Barber, Jan L. Perkowski, Bruce A. McClelland and such folk. I certainly wasn’t aware of anything Pivárcsi had written previously.
Until now. A few days ago, I stumbled upon a 2003 book called Drakula gróf és társai: nagy vámpírkönyv in the Library of Congress catalogue, written by “Pivárcsi István”. And that’s when I remembered Hungarian first names and surnames names are reversed (Dreen-hu 2013). So Pivárcsi has been right under my nose all along. Whether this means he qualifies as a “vampire expert” depends on the quality of his book, which, due to my unfamiliarity with Hungarian, I’m unable to vouch for.
But to be fair on Pivárcsi, I haven’t got a copy of his 2012 English language book, either. It’s in my Amazon Wish List, though—which is already bursting at the seams. So, I’ll defer to a reviewer’s overview of the thing in the meantime:
I’ve been looking a long time for some kind of paranormal anthology, one that had all the vampire legends ever recorded and listed explicit details about those legends: what abilities vampires have, what weaknesses, where they come from, etc, etc, etc. As a writer, I want to know about all of vampirism’s little quirks. I want to know where well-known concepts like staking come from, but I also want to know about the little-known, obscure, local color legends, because dashes of that kind of information are what make characters interesting.
Unfortunately, Just a Bite was not that book (Spivey 2012).
But she added:
However! Reading the book for what it is instead of what I wanted it to be, I think that it is a good and useful guide for those just getting into the world of vampires. Pivarcsi writes about the historical facts and the folk tales with the same tone, and doesn’t seek to fully explain one with the other, which I think lends just a tiny bit of whimsy to the whole discussion.
So there may be hope for it yet. All up, though, it sounds an awful lot like M. J. Trow’s A Brief History of Vampires (2010) which also gives Vlad the Impaler substantial coverage—Spivey notes “The second section” of Pivárcsi’s book “is exclusively about Dracula/Vlad Tepes and major other historical figures in the vampire taxonomy, like Elizabeth Bathory.” I really wish authors would stop cramming Vlad into vampire books. He’s been done to death.
Dreen-hu. 2013. “Hungarian Name Order.” Skype Community. Accessed September 21, 2013. http://community.skype.com/t5/Mac/Hungarian-name-order/td-p/1794783.
Hogg, Anthony. 2012. “Upcoming Books 2 & Update.” The Vampirologist, February 24. http://thevampirologist.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/upcoming-books-2-update.html.
Spivey, Cait. 2012. “Research Review: Just a Bite by Istvan Pivarcsi.” Review of Just a Bite: A Transylvania Vampire Expert’s Short History of the Undead, by István Pivárcsi. Cait Spivey, December 11. http://caitspivey.com/2012/12/11/research-review-just-a-bite-by-istvan-pivarcsi/.
I Empire. 2010. “A vámpírok szláv eredete.” Szláv Virtus, February 1. http://szlawirtus.blog.hu/2010/02/01/a_vampirok_szlav_eredete.