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Vikram and the Vampire; Classic Hindu Tales of Adventure, Magic, and Romance   By: (1821-1890)

Book cover

Vikram and the Vampire: Classic Hindu Tales of Adventure, Magic, and Romance by Richard Francis Burton is a captivating collection of stories that intertwines Hindu folklore, mythology, and literature. Burton, a renowned British explorer and linguist, translates these ancient tales into English with amazing precision and elegance, ensuring that readers can fully appreciate the richness and depth of Indian storytelling.

The book is centered around the character of King Vikramaditya, a wise and fearless ruler known for his bravery and intelligence. Vikram, as he is commonly referred to, finds himself entangled in a complex series of events when he travels to a deserted cemetery at the behest of a mysterious sage who challenges him to fetch a corpse hanging from a tree.

As Vikram bravely approaches the tree to retrieve the corpse, he becomes the newfound companion of a wicked vampire who was once a powerful king. The vampire, named Betaal, symbolizes the immense challenges and moral dilemmas faced by Vikram throughout the book. Every time Vikram successfully captures the vampire, Betaal narrates to him a fascinating story from the vast world of Hindu mythology. These stories cover a wide range of themes including love, honor, loyalty, revenge, and sacrifice, and serve as valuable life lessons for Vikram and the readers alike.

Burton’s translation not only captures the essence of the original tales but also includes his own scholarly notes and explanations, providing readers with valuable insights into Hindu culture, customs, and beliefs. This added layer of context enhances the reader's understanding and appreciation for the stories, making them even more accessible for those who may not be familiar with Hindu mythology.

The level of detail in Burton’s translation is astounding. His mastery of language shines through in the lyrical prose, painting vivid pictures of mystical landscapes, majestic battles, and enchanting characters. His ability to capture the original charm of these tales while making them readable for a wider audience is commendable.

Moreover, through these tales, Burton showcases the rich diversity and complexity of Hinduism. Each story is imbued with religious and philosophical undertones, presenting readers with an opportunity to explore and understand the multifaceted nature of Hindu thought.

However, one criticism of the book is that it may appear overwhelming for readers who are not well-versed in Hindu mythology. The sheer number of deities, characters, and references can be confusing at times, making it challenging to fully grasp the interconnectedness of the stories. To address this, a glossary or an introduction providing a brief overview of Hindu mythology would have been helpful.

Overall, Vikram and the Vampire: Classic Hindu Tales of Adventure, Magic, and Romance is a remarkable compilation of stories that not only entertain but also educate readers on the intricate tapestry of Hindu literature. Richard Francis Burton’s impressive translation skills bring these ancient tales to life, making this book a must-read for anyone interested in mythology, adventure, and the beauty of storytelling.

First Page:

Captain Sir Richard F. Burton's Vikram and The Vampire Classic Hindu Tales of Adventure, Magic, and Romance Edited by his Wife Isabel Burton "Les fables, loin de grandir les hommes, la Nature et Dieu, rapetssent tout." Lamartine (Milton) "One who had eyes saw it; the blind will not understand it. A poet, who is a boy, he has perceived it; he who understands it will be his sire's sire." Rig Veda (I.164.16).


Preface Preface to the First (1870) Edition Introduction

THE VAMPIRE'S FIRST STORY. In which a Man deceives a Woman

THE VAMPIRE'S SECOND STORY. Of the Relative Villany of Men and Woman

THE VAMPIRE'S THIRD STORY. Of a High minded Family

THE VAMPIRE'S FOURTH STORY. Of a Woman who told the Truth

THE VAMPIRE'S FIFTH STORY. Of the Thief who Laughed and Wept

THE VAMPIRE'S SIXTH STORY. In which Three Men dispute about a Woman

THE VAMPIRE'S SEVENTH STORY. Showng the exceeding Folly of many wise Fools

THE VAMPIRE'S EIGHTH STORY. Of the Use and Misuse of Magic Pills

THE VAMPIRE'S NINTH STORY. Showing that a Man's Wife belongs not to his body but to his Head

THE VAMPIRE'S TENTH STORY... Continue reading book >>

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