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Dracula - Bram Stoker

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This is one of those odd situations where you're sure you've read a book but it turns out you haven't. I must have been confusing film with book that's all I can say but I quickly realised as I was reading that I certainly had *not* read Dracula before. Hardly anything about it was familiar and I think that's because it's written in diary form and thus, to my mind anyway, is quite unlike any of the movies.


The story begins as Jonathan Harker, representing his Exeter firm of solicitors, is on the way to Transylvania for a meeting with Count Dracula. His subsequent experiences scar him for life and he's lucky to escape with said life intact. In the meantime the count has set off for England with his boxes of native earth in tow. Harker's fiancé, Mina, is in Whitby with her friend, Lucy, when the count's ship lands up there with all hands dead. Lucy has a deadly encounter with Dracula in the churchyard and thus begins her decline. Dr. Van Helsing from Holland is called in to help and joins forces with Lucy's fiancé, Lord Godalming, Dr. Seward, a doctor in mental health, Quincy Morris, a friend, Mina herself and Jonathan on his eventual return from Europe. Together they hatch various plans to ensnare the clever and evasive count and there are many twists and turns before they finally have to pursue him back to Transylvania.

I was really quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this one. It was creepy, full of suspense and beautifully written. There were times, I have to admit, when I thought, 'How can they be that stupid?' But many books rely on the stupidity of its characters, so that's okay... there would be no stories if everyone used their common sense. I very much liked the 'diary' format of the book, I think it was used a fair bit back then (late 1800s) in supernatural writing - not so much now perhaps. It enables you to get the story from many points of view in a way that works very well and Stoker gets the voices right, imo - even down to Van Helsing's not quite correct English. The blood transfusions made me smile. I've no idea when the medical profession started doing those but I'm thinking that in 1897 they didn't know about different blood types! But, small nit-picks aside, this is such a good read and I honestly have no idea why I never bothered to read it before.

I feel fully prepared now to read Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, looking forward to it in fact and intrigued as to how it connects to the events or people in Dracula.

Comments

I read Dracula during my summer break from college. I had to sit outdoors in the sunshine after the first chapter or two in order to finish it.
LOL. You know, I completely understand. I was reading it late at night sometimes with the windows open and every now and then had to stop and look around and listen. ;-)
I read that book in high school, and it terrified me. I've re-read it at least twice since then, and it never fails to give me chills. Stoker's writing is so foreboding.

Which movie version do you prefer? I've seen the Lugosi classic, but actually like the 1979 version with Frank Langella as the Count.
It is foreboding, and for once I had no idea who would make it at the end and who wouldn't.

I don't recall any of the movie versions all that clearly, so I'll put that right sometime. I know I didn't like the more recent one which I *think* (not sure) starred Gary Oldman. I thought it rather disturbing. I'm thinking I probably liked the same one as you the last time I saw it.
I've tried to watch the most recent one, which did indeed star Gary Oldman, but like you, I find it very unnerving. I think the only way I could watch that one would be with a group. I have way too much imagination to watch that alone, especially in the evening.
'Dracula' is one of my favourite books ever :D

Having said that, I couldn't get past page 30 of 'The Historian' - but if you like travel/descriptions of scenery it might appeal - unfortunately that stuff tends to send me to sleep unless it's done exceptionally well :-/
Well, I shall definitely be reading The Historian this month. Yes, I do like travel books so it will be interesting to see how I get on with it.

I need a gothicky icon...
I've been a Dracula fan from my first viewing of the Bela Lugosi film in childhood — at a time when American children were allowed to see anything horrific (except sex, of course... heh!) and, from what I hear, England rightly put an age restriction on viewing violence and horror.

But Dracula is mostly about sex, vampires being just a euphemism. There's a good novel called The Dracula Tape (1975) by Fred Saberhagen, in which he takes on telling the Count's side of the story, and he insists that Lucy Westenra probably weakened and died, not from Vladimir's "affections," but from unmatched-type blood transfusions, which Van Helsing insists upon several times in the story.

I've re-read both books a few times, and each time noticed things that slid by me before. Glad you enjoyed Dracula!
But Dracula is mostly about sex

You're completely correct. Most Dracula fiction authors are aware of this of course and have emphasised this to the limits. I haven't read huge amounts of vampire stories, have you? I did like the early St. Germain books by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Sunshine by Robin McKinley, which I loved. But really, I've yet to be really bowled over by any of it. I shall have to go on a search for brilliant stories.

I've made a note of that other book and will keep an eye out for it.
I'm nowhere near reading as many books as you have, even on subjects that I truly enjoy. The St. Germain books and even Robin McKinley's contribution to the vampire genre have slipped on by me. While I've read some entertaining vampire stories, most of them were unremarkable, and some have been utter crap as well, which makes me want a refund of the TIME I've spent on them, never mind the money!