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Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2019 08:41PM
Yluos Wrote:

> [science.howstuffworks.com]
> strange-creatures/ghoul4.htm
>
> It's very brief and there aren't so many sources,
> but the author confidently states that the
> original Arabic ghuls were not grave-diggers,
> confirming some of what you shared.

Mr. Lamb, the author of your article, is way off base.

Galland did not invent the "Tale of Sidi Nouman". He collected it (and wrote it up) from a Syriac-Christian storyteller named Hanna Diab, who also provided him with "Aladdin" and "Ali-Baba".

Hence "Sidi Nouman" is at least 300 years old, if not older, and from a genuinely mid-eastern source (Hanna Diab). You would be hard pressed to find many mid-eastern tales about "ghouls" that you could prove are older and more authentic than "Sidi Nouman".

Moreover, Mr. Lamb admits that ghouls are associated with hyenas, in those sources he regards as genuine. But striped hyenas -- the kind of hyenas that are found in the same areas as ghoul legends -- are nocturnal burrowing scavengers that dig up and eat corpses. If ghouls are associated with hyenas (as Mr. Lamb admits) then how could they NOT be associated with digging up corpses???

Moreover, Mr. Lamb writes as if the original [i]Thousand and One Nights[/i] contains a large number of ghoul legends that are more authentic than "Sidi Nouman". However, there is only one such story: "The Tale of the Vizier Who Was Punished", which is "more authentic" in the sense that it can be proved to be 300 years older than Sidi Nouman and part of the oldest known texts of 1001 Nights.

Other ghoul legends were added to the 1001 Nights, after Galland, and in response to the demand for mid-east legends created by the success of Galland. But I am not aware that these legends, collected more recently, are more genuine than "Sidi Nouman".

Moreover, the part of "Sidi Nouman" which is almost certainly an insertion by Galland is the part where he explains, for the benefit of European readers, that ghouls' normal habit is to haunt desolate places and ambush travelers for fresh meat (a reference back to the she-ghoul from "The Vizier Who Was Punished"). So blaming him for the misconception that ghouls are exclusively associated with corpses and graveyards does not seem fair at all.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2019 10:04PM
Moreover, although Galland's translation of the Thousand and One Nights has been accused of inaccuracy, these inaccuracies had nothing to do with altering those "weird" elements of the tales (like ghouls) that had to do with magic, mystery and folklore. Rather (1) he cut out, or made less explicit, the pornographic interludes; (2) cut out, or reworked into prose, the untranslatable poetry; (3) inserted things, like the definition of a "goule", that would help European readers understand the story.

In the case of "The Tale of Sidi Nouman" we don't have Hanna Diab's original to compare it to. But there is no reason to assume his approach was any different. I would imagine, though, that Hanna Diab spared him the poetry and the porn, so there was probably less for him to adapt.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 27 Oct 19 | 10:07PM by Platypus.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Yluos (IP Logged)
Date: 28 October, 2019 02:54PM
I wondered about the mention of hyenas myself, and because of the near lack of sources I didn't take this article too seriously, especially since the rest of it seems more concerned with ghouls in modern pop culture. I hope I wasn't too exasperating for your good sense, but I enjoyed seeing a true expert manhandle a less sophisticated article.

I still haven't found that book (it seems downright nonexistent so far), but here is a truly folkloristic essay on the history of ghouls. Whether or not it's accurate I can't say for sure, because Arabic history has never been my prime interest, but at least it's written with greater depth and with more references to other sources, and it even comes with a critical response from another scholar. I assume you'll know better than I; perhaps you even know most of this already, but at least it might interest some people here with less ghoul knowledge.

[www.ocf.berkeley.edu]

It would be nice to see more authors handling ghouls in their original Arabic context. The snarling grave-diggers which even Smith wrote about are fun and have their own symbolic strength, but I'd really like to see those shape-shifting tricksters of the desert again.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 28 Oct 19 | 03:21PM by Yluos.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 31 October, 2019 08:56AM
Fresh Guy (1958) by Edwin Charles Tubb, a scifi story, more funny than horror, about a werewolf, a ghoul and two vampires sitting at a log-fire and remembering nostalgically the good old days, before the nuclear war, when Earth was populated by people (who are living underground now, because the surface is full of radiation etc.). To be honest, I did not like it much ...

[www.isfdb.org]

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 31 October, 2019 12:17PM
Yluos Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I still haven't found that book (it seems
> downright nonexistent so far), but here is a truly
> folkloristic essay on the history of ghouls.
> Whether or not it's accurate I can't say for sure,
> because Arabic history has never been my prime
> interest, but at least it's written with greater
> depth and with more references to other sources,
> and it even comes with a critical response from
> another scholar. I assume you'll know better than
> I; perhaps you even know most of this already, but
> at least it might interest some people here with
> less ghoul knowledge.
>
> [www.ocf.berkeley.edu]
> ume8/vol8_article3.html

In case the link stops working, this refers to "The Mythical Ghoul in Arabic Culture", by Ahmed Al-Rawi.

The article contains what I suppose must be a decent survey of ghoul-references in ancient Arabic literature. Apart from that, I don't think much of it.

Firstly, he obviously assumes that ghouls must be Arabic in order to be genuine, and never mentions Persia or Syria at all. But ghouls are as much Persian monster as they are an Arabic monster, and 1001 Nights is, in origin at least, as much a Persian text as an Arabic one.

Then Al-Rawi goes on to assume that anything not recorded in his brief survey of ancient Arabic sources cannot be authentic; and concludes from this that Galland must have made up the Sidi Nouman tale.

But this is pure nonsense. Folkore is a predominently oral phenomenon. Very little of it gets written down, and I suppose very little of what does get written down ends up being preserved for future generations. The idea of writing down and preserving folk legends for posterity, seems to be a mainly European idea, and Galland might be considered one of the pioneers of that field. Even the 1001 Nights was not particularly respected in Arab culture, AFAIK. It is probably not a co-incidence that the oldest surviving text of the 1001 Nights is the copy obtained by Galland, and now preserved in a Paris library.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the German folklorist Hans Stummer collected a set of folk-tales from North Africa, which he published in Arabic and German. These included at least 2 tales about ghouls (Udea and her Brothers; and The Story of Halfman). These tales also have their own unique elements and details about ghouls, which are likewise unreflected in Al-Rawi's survey of older Arabic literature, and some of which might be regional. Must I assume that these stories are also fraudulent? According to Al-Rawi's logic, they must be.

Al-Rawi actually mentions Hanna Diab, but seeks to downplay Diab's role, saying Diab may have "inspired" those parts of The Tale of Sidi Nouman that might be authentic. What parts, if not the whole thing? Then, having belatedly credited Diab, he feels compelled to label Diab an "Arab", which is sort-of true, but which is rather like calling Sinead O'Connor an "Englishwoman" merely because she speaks English. But what should matter is that Diab (a Syriac-Christian from the Arabic-speaking city of Aleppo in Syria) is a native of those regions from whence ghoul legends come.

Al-Rawi accuses Galland of making ghouls male, in contrast to Arabic ghouls who tended to be female. Where does he get this from? There are only 2 ghouls in Galland's text, and both are female. The first is explicitly female, and the mother of a brood of little ghouls; and the other, Amina's goule-friend, is strongly implied to be female by the genders used in Galland's French text. Nor does Galland ever tell his readers that goules are "male monsters", as Al-Rawi claims. Rather Galland tells his readers that goules may be of either sex. Which is surely accurate enough.

I did however enjoy some of the anecdotes, such as the fellows who killed a "ghoul" which on examination by the less ignorant turned out to be a hyena; and also the fellow who consulted the Prophet Mohammed about the ghouls who were breaking into his storehouse and eating his dates. It is perhaps worth mentioning that striped hyenas like to supplement their carrion diet with fruit. Al-Rawi may be on to something when he suggests these particular ghoul anecdotes are more "authentic". But his article purports to be about the "mythical ghoul"; not the "authentic" ghoul who is probably a hyena.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 4 April, 2021 08:36AM
Hello.

Does anybody know if there are any ghouls in the stories by Washington Irving? I am asking because there is a passage in the short story "Far Below" by Robert Barbour Johnson that reads as follows:

"And ask him to show you that skull, half human and half canine, that came out of an Indian mound as far away as Albany, and those ceremonial robes of aboriginal shamans plainly traced with drawings of whitish spidery Things burrowing through conventionalized tunnels; and doing other things, too, that show the Indian artists must have known Them and Their habits. Oh yes, it's all down there in black and white, once we had the sense to read it!
" AND even after white men came—what about the early writings of the old Dutch settlers, what about Jan Van der Rhees and Woulter Van Twiller? Even some of Washington Irving's writings have a nasty twist to them, if you once realize it! And there are some mighty queer passages in 'The History of the City of New York'—mention of guard patrols kept for no rational purpose in early streets at night, particularly in the region of cemeteries; of forays and excursions in the lightless dark, and flintlocks popping, and graves hastily dug and filled in before dawn woke the city to life. . . ."

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 7 April, 2021 09:41AM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hello.
>
> Does anybody know if there are any ghouls in the
> stories by Washington Irving? I am asking because
> there is a passage in the short story "Far Below"
> by Robert Barbour Johnson that reads as follows:
>
> "And ask him to show you that skull, half human
> and half canine, that came out of an Indian mound
> as far away as Albany, and those ceremonial robes
> of aboriginal shamans plainly traced with drawings
> of whitish spidery Things burrowing through
> conventionalized tunnels; and doing other things,
> too, that show the Indian artists must have known
> Them and Their habits. Oh yes, it's all down there
> in black and white, once we had the sense to read
> it!
> " AND even after white men came—what about the
> early writings of the old Dutch settlers, what
> about Jan Van der Rhees and Woulter Van Twiller?
> Even some of Washington Irving's writings have a
> nasty twist to them, if you once realize it! And
> there are some mighty queer passages in 'The
> History of the City of New York'—mention of
> guard patrols kept for no rational purpose in
> early streets at night, particularly in the region
> of cemeteries; of forays and excursions in the
> lightless dark, and flintlocks popping, and graves
> hastily dug and filled in before dawn woke the
> city to life. . . ."

I've read most of Irving's stuff, and recall no creature I would call a ghoul. In "The Adventure of the German Student", the title character is called a "literary ghoul, feeding on the corpses of decayed literature", which is only a metaphor. But it does foreshadow a pretty ghoulish story, involving a corpse, which may or may not have been animated by an evil spirit.

But I have not yet read Diedrich Knickerbocker's THE HISTORY OF NEW-YORK, which I will have to do.

Re: GHOUL STORIES IN ENGLISH (1706-1943)
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 8 April, 2021 11:38AM
Thank you very much for answering me.

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