"The Young Man and His Vampire Brother" is an Eastern European folk tale.


The story's header in Tales from the Heart of the Balkans.

Plot Edit

A young man leaves his father's home and comes to a new town. He finds a dead body in the marketplace, who is being spit upon by passersby because of his debts to other townspeople. Feeling pity for the dead man, the young man buries him.

Later, while passing by the cemetery, the young man meets a vampire in disguise. The vampire tells him to stand guard over the coffin of the recently deceased daughter of the town's pasha (a government official) for three days and three nights, but not to look away from the Bible while doing so. On the third night, the daughter rises from her coffin and the man lies in it, bringing her back to life. In gratitude, the pasha allows the man to marry his daughter.

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Pashas were high-ranked Turkish government officials.

On a visit home, the man visits a tavern and is swindled out of all his possessions by two mysterious strangers, later revealed to be vampires. He is forced to become a swineherd to survive, but is found by his vampire “brother,” who has taken all his possessions back from the vampires, as well as their own things. The vampire asks that their earnings be divided between the two, including the man’s wife. He splits the man’s wife in two, and a snake crawls out of her. The vampire kills the snake and reveals that he was the dead man who was buried by the young man, and aided him as thanks for his good deed. With his forty days on Earth up, the vampire then parts ways with the young man.

Themes Edit

Unlike many vampires in the folktales of its time, the vampire in “The Young Man and His Vampire Brother” is a benevolent figure who aids the protagonist. This is different from other folktales such as “Bucket of Blood,” which depict vampires as unholy creatures who feast on unwary peasants. The only similarity between this vampire and the classical depiction of vampires, in fact, is its undead status. This idea of a more civilized vampire may have contributed to Bram Stoker’s character of Dracula, who also broke away from the original folkloric idea of the vampire.

Relation to Monster Culture: Seven Theses Edit

The Young Man and His Vampire Brother is a short story that departs from several prominent vampiric and fantasy themes at the time. In the case of Jeffrey Cohen’s "Monster Culture: Seven Theses" [1], the story basically defies most of Jeffrey’s theses. For example, the monster in this story is at first expected to be the vampire but it turns out that the vampire is the mentor to the Young Man and is referred to as his vampire brother by the end of the story. This is in direct conflict with thesis II, which theorizes that the monster always escapes. However, in a sense, the vampire is not the monster, and several different characters play this role. At first, it is the wicked stepmom who banishes the young man from their house after their Dad decides he would rather have her over his child. The next monster is the evil serpent who possesses the wife that tempts the Young Man to take his eyes off of the scripture. In this sense, there is a strong semblance of the tree of life story from genesis [2]. Lastly, the final monster is the Vampires that steal all of his belongings. It is later revealed that vampires in Romany’s universe are simply recently dead beings that roam the Earth for forty days from their date of death. This is also a belief of orthodox Christians [3]. Once this is revealed, it is easy to realize why the story contains vampires who steal and play games, and others that help. In this way, the reader can examine how a recently deceased version of themselves may act.

Trivia Edit

The vampire’s mentioning of its “forty days on Earth” is a reference to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which believes that spirits roam the Earth for forty days before going to Heaven.

References Edit

Bucket of Blood." Origins of the European Vampire. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 21-22. University of Arizona D2L. Web. 4 Apr. 2017.

Marshall, Bonnie C., and Vasa D. Mihailovich. "The Young Man and His Vampire Brother." Tales from the Heart of the Balkans. Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, 2001. 83-86. Print.

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