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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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Bram Stoker's Dracula

  • Jan 18, 2008
Rating:
+3
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 and increasingly insipid generations of vampire books and movies which have followed it. Garlic, stakes to the heart, "sacred" (not silver) bullets, reflectionless mirrors--they're all here.

Still, Stoker tells an interesting story, perhaps at this remove as interesting for its unconscious fears and fashions as for its drama, romance, and horror. Stoker uses the convention of a written record that in the brief coda the surviving team members fear will not be believed because most of it is typewritten, and thus will be considered inauthentic! Yes, these brave warriors used the latest of technology to battle their ancient enemy--typewriters, phonograph recordings, telegraphs, revolvers, modern medicine, trains, and steam launches--but finally best him with the traditions (stakes and garlic, certainly a gastronomic delight) and faith of the past).

Along the way, Stoker reveals the fear of powerful and empowered women who enjoy their sexuality openly, as the vampiric women are depicted, in opposition to the proper pale frigidity and coquetry of the favored Victorian breed of woman. The power of Dracula is largely an erotic one, most explicitly expressed in the story when the once-bitten and not quite twice-shy heroine is made by Dracula to lick the blood off his chest, an obvious metaphor for forms of sexual conduct obviously not spoken of in the best parlours.

Interestingly, it is Dracula and his all-female vampiric converts who are described in terms most appealing to us today. They are passionate, active, open, cynical, ironic, and ruddily healthy (all that red meat--er, blood--in the diet, you know), while the "good guys" seem pale, standoffish, and mannered to the point of too-cool lifelessness, a word which is both richly ironic and pointedly accurate in its description.

But that's all under the surface. The story framework "as told by" journals, letters, newspaper clippings allows Stoker to give many characters first-person place in the story, sometimes describing scenes from two first-person perspectives. This convention keeps the story moving quickly, and Stoker's transitions are plausible and drive the action, which is surprisingly deeper and broader than the secondary-source movies most of us have referenced at some point in our cultural history.

Only a small percentage of the story at beginning and end is set in Dracula's castle, an eerie set piece in Transylvania that the movies have captured well. Most of the action takes place in London, where Dracula has bought property to be close to a fresh food supply and converts to his undead army. The unsuspecting Jonathan Harker, who was the unwitting enabler of this relocation, is the first of the "good guys" to be drawn into the battle, but unlike often depicted in the movies, this is not a mano a mano battle; Jonathon is joined by his wife, her best friend's widowed husband and two male friends (a love quadrangle fraught with sexual titillation even after she turned down the two friends for her eventual husband), and a noted doctor. We have a lawyer, psychiatrist, doctor, explorer, and royalty (all men, of course) and the genteel women whom they pursue--not a peasant amongst them. The class divide is evident as the story develops; money and time (nobody in this crowd is bothered with working, careers, or even maintaining themselves or their households; that's for the presumably under-the-stairs servants) will among the modern weapons arrayed against old-school Dracula (whose piles of money in the castle are neglected and never used in a dust filled room).

So the net is a fun horror-filled ride through London and Transylvania, with enough cultural and historical interest irony and subtext to sustain humor and interest the whole way through.

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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
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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   …
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.
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
This is the only vampire book I've ever read, so I can't really compare it to any others. But it's a pretty fun novel to read.
About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #38
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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Details

Author: Bram Stoker
Genre: Horror Novel, Gothic Horror, Classic Fiction, Vampires, Literature
Date Published: 1897
Format: Novel

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