The Peasant and the Corpse is a Russian folk-tale by Alexander Nikolaevich-Afanasyev published as part of a collection of various Russian folk-tales. The account is an early record of the vampirical idea and what it meant as a part of Russian storytelling. 


The story begins with a peasant walking with a cart full of pottery. He arrives upon a graveyard and decides to take a rest and allow his horse to graze. While laying down, he cannot find the ability to sleep, although he is tired from his long journey. He suddenly feels the ground begin to shift below him and jumps to his feet. The grave he had been sleeping on opens up, and a corpse covered in a white shroud emerges. The corpse walks to the nearby church with the coffin lid in his hands and sets it there. The corpse then walks towards the local village, unbothered by the peasant. The peasant decides to find out the mystery of this living corpse and steals the coffin lid. When the corpse returns he begins to desperately search for his coffin lid. He finds the peasant and demands that he give it back. The peasant requests to know where the corpse had gone. The corpse then explains that he went into the village and killed a couple of children. The peasant tells him that he will give him the coffin lid back only if the corpse tells him how to bring the children back to life. The corpse tells him to take a piece of his white shroud and burn it in the home of the dead children, and then they will be brought back to life. The corpse then quickly grabs his coffin lid and hurries to avoid the break of dawn. The peasant then goes into the village and helps bring the dead children back to life. At first they accuse him of killing the children, but he takes them to the corpse and they drive a stake through its heart so that it will never harm them again. 

Historical Relevancy:

Being one of the first stories about vampires, this tale is extremely interesting to look at when looking at the development of the vampire over the years in stories and media. We see the classic stake through the heart, yet are missing pieces of classic vampire lore, such as the need for blood. 


W. R. S. Ralston, Russian Folk-Tales (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1873), pp. 309-311

Aleksandr Afanasyev, v., pp. 142-144. "From the Tambof Government."

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