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Dracula (first edition)

The classic 1897 gothic horror novel, written by Irish author Bram Stoker, about the vampire Count.

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

  • Aug 16, 2009
Rating:
+3
I was prompted to read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” after the recent success of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series of romantic vampire novels. Vampire folklore apparently goes back to the 1700’s, and the story of the suave captivating vampire apparently began with John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” in 1819. However it is Stoker’s 1897 novel that is remembered today as the one that launched the modern day vampire horror story genre. As a point of interest, the vampire bats native to South America do not occur in Europe, and apparently the bats are named after the monsters of folklore rather than the other way around. The book is an epistolary novel meaning it’s narrated from entries in the diaries and journals of the characters as well as through telegrams, newspaper stories, and letters. This approach allows the reader to get multiple points of view throughout the story.
 
Jonathan Harker is a newly minted solicitor who is dispatched to Transylvania to visit Count Dracula at his castle and go over paperwork for Dracula’s purchase of an old abbey in London. Not long after his arrival, it becomes apparent that Harker is being held captive by the Count, who is a rather unusual old guy. The castle is also home to three seductive female vampires one of whom almost manages to seduce Harker before Dracula intercedes. Harker escapes from the castle and recuperates in Budapest where his fiancée Mina Murray travels to nurse him back to health and marry him. Mina’s friend Lucy Westenra back in London has received proposals of marriage from three men in one day: the American Quincey Morris, Dr. John Seward, and Arthur Holmwood. Lucy accepts the wealthy Holmwood, but her tendency to sleepwalk gets her into trouble when she encounters Dracula who has arrived (in the form of a dog) on a ship that set sail from Varna and landed in Whitby. Lucy begins to suffer an odd illness characterized by extreme pallor, and Seward enlists the aid of his old professor Dr. Abraham Van Helsing from Amsterdam. Unfortunately, Lucy is well on the road to becoming a vampire herself and after “dying” starts feeding on children in the London area. Van Helsing and Holmwood are forced to put an end to Lucy’s nocturnal escapades by opening her tomb during the day, driving a stake through her heart, cutting off her head and stuffing her mouth with garlic. It seems somewhat harsh, but at least her soul can rest in peace now that she is no longer one of the “un-dead.”
 
A fair portion of the book drags on somewhat tediously, but the final sequence in which the group chases down Dracula as he attempts to have his coffin moved by boat from England back to Transylvania is very suspenseful. The suspense is heightened by the fact that Mina is partially under the influence of Dracula because he has fed on her several times and has forced her to feed on his own blood. It is not clear whether or not Mina is doomed to become a vampire herself and whether she is consciously or unconsciously abetting Dracula. Mina and Van Helsing are making their way to the castle by land as are Morris and Seward. Holmwood and Harkin are chasing the boat that is carrying Dracula’s coffin up the Sereth River by means of a steam launch. Ultimately, Quincey Morris and Mina’s husband Jonathan overtake the wagon with Dracula’s coffin just as it is approaching the castle at sunset (when the vampire would be free to move about on his own). Just in time, the two manage wrench open the coffin, stab his heart with a Bowie knife and slash his throat. He crumbles to dust, and the world is saved from any further proliferation of vampires.
 
Dracula by Bram Stoker

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December 10, 2009
Good review. Victorian writing may be a bit slow for modern readers, but Stoker's novel is a good treatment. Don't say Stephanie Meyer in the same sentence, please. She rewrote the entire mythology. Sparkling in the sunlight? Oh Please!!
June 01, 2010
I have to agree. Stephanie Meyer's Twilight is an embarrassment when held up alongside Bram Stoker's classic.
June 01, 2010
Agreed. Now we have a generation of kids who won't get the whole 'night only' and 'garlic' and 'stakes' routine!
 
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More Dracula (novel) reviews
review by . May 06, 2013
A towering and gloomy masterwork of gothic splendor, scholarship and imagination.
In rereading Dracula-my "October" book-I discovered many nuances and subtle flaws the eluded me upon my first reading of it. They included physical descriptions of the characters and incorrect journal entry dates. However, they are so minor they are not even worth mentioning, and they do not detract the reader from the all engulfing story that Dracula has the power to ensnare people into, for it is a mesmerizing literary work that encompasses an assortment of global vampire mythologies …
review by . July 09, 2011
A Treatise on Vampires
The character of Dracula is depicted as a blood-thirsty vampire. The opening scene is priceless.   An old time carriage is seen traversing a winding road until reaching the infamous castle   where Count Dracula resides. En route, the neighboring villagers warn the travelers of the dangers   inherent in the neighborhood of Dracula's Castle.      The scene is eerie and one wonders why anyone would travel to the castle essentially unaccompanied   …
review by . January 18, 2008
FYI: This is the Barnes and Noble "Collector's Library" edition, one of a series of inexpensive but nicely-bound hardback editions of the classics that are produced specifically for sale in the chain bookstore; hence it would only be available used through Amazon. I reviewed it since it is the edition I read.    The dictionary definition of lurid, overwrought Victorian melodrama, Bram Stoker's Dracula is the authentic source of every recognizable cliché mined in the derivative …
Quick Tip by . June 27, 2011
My favourite vampire - one who never apologises for who or what he is.
Quick Tip by . November 11, 2010
I recently re-read this to kick off my Year of Bloody Vampire Reading, This is so completely a classic Gothic Victorian novel.The Victorian fascination with the "scientific method" and deductive reasoning are in full evidence, as are concepts of Christian morality, and the dread of foreigners and disease. Modern readers eyes may glaze over at the amount of exposition; bear in mind this was written long before writers were entreated to "show, don't tell". But oh, the strange dark seduction of the …
Quick Tip by . January 10, 2011
Every single vampire novel, film, television series or comic that has been produced owes a huge debt to this wonderful classic of both horror and literature in general.
review by . June 22, 2010
Bram Stoker's Dracula is the original.  If you like all the vampire stories written today, then you definitely should go back to the source.  This book is rich with description, its dark, creepy and intriguing.       I first read Dracula when I was a teenager.  I loved it then and still do.  Its not for the faint of heart, but not nearly as explicity graphic as some books today (not that there is anything wrong with that!)      …
Quick Tip by . October 12, 2010
The book that began it all! before edward cullen and count chocula there was Dracula.
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2010
Read this before watching any vampire movies or TV shows. Impossible, right?
Quick Tip by . July 24, 2010
i read this the first time in the 4th grade and ive read it countless times since then, it never ever gets old.
About the reviewer
Steve DiBartola ()
Ranked #159
I was invited to join Lunch by one of the developers, who apparently read some reviews I posted on Library Thing. My interests are books, music, and movies. I enjoy both classical and contemporary fiction, … more
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Author: Bram Stoker
Genre: Horror Novel, Gothic Horror, Classic Fiction, Vampires, Literature
Date Published: 1897
Format: Novel

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