Dracula by Bram Stoker, Irish (1847-1912)
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW VAMPIRES?
The first thing you need to know about vampires is that they are “undead”! That’s right; these evil beings hover between this life and the next, sucking the blood from live victims, and turning them into vampires. Vampires sleep in their coffins between sunup and sundown. At night, they take the form of other creatures, especially bats and wolves, roaming the countryside for hapless victims. They do not eat human food, hate garlic, Christian crosses, and are powerless in sunlight. A vampire can only be destroyed by plunging a stake through its heart and cutting off its head–not an easy task.
THE NOVEL DRACULA
I have to admit that due to my general aversion to horror films and books, I never read Dracula when I was young. Friday the 13th cured me of ever wanting to watch another horror movie (except The Omen, The Shining, and Jaws). Of course, I read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I was not sure what to expect when I turned the first page of Bram Stoker’s epic novel, Dracula.
Stoker wrote the novel as a series of journal entries and letters by different characters, making the story more personal. Jonathan Harker, a London solicitor, travels to Transylvania (Romania) to complete paperwork with Count Dracula, who has bought property in London. Jonathan soon realizes that though the Count treats him as a revered guest, he is a prisoner in the Count’s castle. Strange things begin to happen (cue the scary music). For example, while shaving, Jonathan notices that the Count does not cast a reflection in his dresser mirror. Also, the Count never joins him for dinner. One night, Jonathan watches the Count emerge from a window and climb sideways, on all fours, down the steep castle walls. After a terrifying visit by three female vampires, Jonathan plans his escape back to England.
I knew I must search the body for the key, so I raised the lid and laid it back against the wall; and then I saw something which filled my very soul with horror. There lay the Count; but looking as if his youth had been half-renewed, for the white hair and mustache were changed to dark iron-grey; the cheeks were fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby-red underneath; the mouth was redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over his chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst swollen flesh, for the lids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the whole awful creature were simply gorged with blood; he lay like a filthy leech, exhausted with his repletion. (Stoker)
The story then moves to London and involves characters who are either victims or hunters of the elusive Count Dracula. With the aid of a vampire hunter, Professor Van Helsing, Jonathan, his wife Mina, and three other friends set out to track down Count Dracula and destroy him. Van Helsing vows, “We shall follow him; and we shall not flinch; even if we peril ourselves that we become like him.” Bram Stoker takes the reader on a treacherous and horrifying adventure through church tombs, crypts, a mental asylum, then back to Transylvania. Oh, and there is lots of fog and howling wolves–just for effect! The story has many twists and turns, but in the end, good triumphs over evil. I can proudly don an “I survived Count Dracula” T-Shirt (if one exists), for the novel is not scary at all; instead, it is psychologically disturbing! I highly recommend this Gothic thriller. I look forward to reading Stoker’s other works, especially The Lair of the White Worm, and The Jewel of Seven Stars. Stoker’s imagination knows no bounds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bram Stoker, one of seven children, was born in Ireland in 1847. In 1868, Bram graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, with an honors degree in math. While participating in Trinity’s Philosophical Society, he met Sir William and Lady Jane Wilde, parents of Oscar Wilde, who invited him to their literary salons. Bram and Oscar competed for Florence Balcombe’s hand in marriage; Bram was the victor. Bram Stoker’s passion for the theater and long-term friendship with the stage actor, Henry Irving, led to his becoming the manager of the Lyceum Theater, London. During his first two decades of writing, Bram concentrated on short stories, which he published in various magazines. He worked on Dracula for ten years, and it is now his best-known novel.
Did you enjoy this book review and audio clip? I would value your opinion in the comment box. Thank you.
Would you like to receive future audio clips and reviews? Please type your email in the sidebar and click the gray “Join Copley Classics” button. That’s it!
Sarah M. Fredericks © 2015
Carpe Librum!Seize the Book, and let the page-turning begin!