๐Ÿ“š Dracula (Bram Stoker)

Read Dracula

Dracula is a novel by Bram Stoker, published in 1897. As an epistolary novel, the narrative is related through letters, diary entries, and newspaper articles. It has no single protagonist, but opens with solicitor Jonathan Harker taking a business trip to stay at the castle of a Transylvanian noble, Count Dracula. Harker escapes the castle after discovering that Dracula is a vampire, and the Count moves to England and plagues the seaside town of Whitby. A small group, led by Abraham Van Helsing, hunt Dracula and, in the end, kill him.

Dracula was mostly written in the 1890s. Stoker produced over a hundred pages of notes for the novel, drawing extensively from Transylvanian folklore and history. Some scholars have suggested that the character of Dracula was inspired by historical figures like the Wallachian prince Vlad the Impaler or the countess Elizabeth Bรกthory, but there is widespread disagreement. Stoker’s notes mention neither figure. He found the name Dracula in Whitby’s public library while holidaying there, picking it because he thought it meant devil in Romanian.

It is interesting to return to the original text after living life through various interpretation, such as Hotel Transylvania. One thing that stood out to me in reading Dracula was the place of technology throughout the novel and what that might it might mean for the novel to be written today.

The entire novel is presented in the form of letters, diaries and newspaper cuttings: so the scientific method of observing and recording information is integral to both the structure of the book itself, and to the attempts of Van Helsing and his friends to destroy Dracula. Set against this atmosphere of scientific advance, however, are the intangible concepts of religious faith and the supernatural. Van Helsing may use blood transfusions in an attempt to keep Lucy alive, but he also resorts to garlic flowers and crucifixes to hold the vampire at bay.

It was also interesting to read about some of the history associated with the novel and the removal of so many pages.

When the novel was finally released on May 26, 1897, the first 101 pages had been cut, numerous alterations had been made to the text, and the epilogue had been shortened, changing Draculaโ€™s ultimate fate as well as that of his castle. Tens of thousands of words had vanished. Bramโ€™s message, once concise and clear, had blurred between the remaining lines.

In the 1980s, the original Dracula manuscript was discovered in a barn in rural northwestern Pennsylvania. Nobody knows how it made its way across the Atlantic. That manuscript, now owned by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, begins on page 102. Jonathan Harkerโ€™s journey on a train, once thought to be the beginning of the story, was actually in the thick of it.

This raises a question: what was on the first 101 pages? What was considered too real, too frightening, for publication?

Another book read by Christopher Lee.

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