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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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A towering and gloomy masterwork of gothic splendor, scholarship and imagination.

  • May 6, 2013
  • by
Rating:
+5
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 as well as a plethora of historical figures who inspired the notorious Count Dracula; those who possessed the vampire-like evil and blood lusts and fetishes for the occult, most notably were: Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, Prince of Wallachia (brought to life via the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceau'escu for tourist dollars) and Erzsébet Báthory, the Blood Countess from Hungary, who drank, bathed in and murdered for blood. Additionally, there was also an eighteenth century bohemian princess by the name of Princess Eleonore von Schwarzenberg from the Czech Republic, a woman who had a penchant for being an occult practitioner. Lastly, though minor, was nineteen-year-old Mercy Brown of Exeter, Rhode Island, the last North American vampire. Dead because of consumption, it was feared that she was harming her dying brother, Edwin, from beyond the grave. That compounded with demons like Lilith from Jewish mythology whom Satan corrupted or Kali, the Hindu goddess with a skull necklace, they, taken as a whole, offer a frightening picture of what a blood drinking undead monster could be like.

Written in an epistolary format, clear and concise, Dracula starts with English solicitor Jonathan Harker's journey through Buda-Pesth and then through the Carpathian Mountains to the Castle Dracula. Much to the dismay of the local peasantry who fear the castle and what it represents, they give Jonathan a crucifix for around his neck. Scoffing at the act as a superstition from the lowest common denominator, he takes it. But as the novel progresses, he slowly changes his tune, especially when he walks through the doors of the castle and becomes a complete prisoner, witnessing unearthly happenings and vile deeds that could cause the most hardened sceptic to shudder with fear. On the other side of the world is Mina Murray, Jonathan's fiance, an intellectual school mistress who is staying at the abode of her dear friend, Lucy Westenra, a beautiful and free spirited young woman who is yearning for life and love, especially marital bliss, and she has three suitors who are more than interested in her. They are Dr. John Seward, Arthur Holmwood (later Lord Godalming) and Quincey Morris, a Texan. All desire her hand, and when she chooses her suitor, all still remain friends. What should be the happiest moment of all their lives becomes the exact opposite. Lucy falls into severe ill health, suffering from a kind of anemia, and everybody, Dr. John Seward most of all, is at a loss as to where the blood loss is stemming from. Hence, Abraham van Helsing gets called into the scene; he sees what the others cannot. He is also a bit more open-minded to the supernatural, the un-dead.

As Lucy gets worse, the circle becomes tighter, a group of banded warriors fighting the unknown. Unfortunately their heroics are pointless to save Lucy who ultimately becomes a member of the undead; at night she roams the English parks, abducting children and feeding off their blood. It is only when she returns to her tomb that the others begin to see the light of day. But they are stubborn. That is one component that makes Dracula so frustrating. The readers can see the obvious, but the characters who must see are too unbelieving to acknowledge any of the gruesome happenings. When Jonathan Harker enters back into the scene, they all compare notes and realize that they must work collectively to stop Count Dracula from creating a city of vampires, for that is why he initially wanted to move to the bustling city streets of London: to expand. The battle ensues, especially when Mina gets infected with the vampire blood, and with her "second sight" she is able to guide the men to a battle royal with the count himself.

Though readers are familiar with the Dracula story, through films especially, the novel is nothing like any of the movies. It is far better! What is ironic is that Count Dracula is hardly even seen throughout the novel, and when he is, it's only in passing. What lingers throughout is his essence and the sexually charged energy after he lunges determinedly into the throats of his chosen victims. His presence, however slight, is a strong one.

What is more amazing is Bram Stoker himself, a workaholic who was the Lyceum Theatre manager for Sir Henry Irving, the latter being the most popular and accomplished actor of his day. Stoker's work on behalf of the actor was all consuming, and with that as a fact, it is stunning that Stoker ever found the time and energy to write a book like Dracula. Fortunately he was an excellent library researcher with one heck of a dark and brooding imagination. Some have even speculated that Sir Henry Irving was the model for the count, and Stoker wanted his novel to be performed on the stage. With a demanding boss like Irving, I can understand the parallels between him and Count Dracula, for they are obvious. To me, Bram Stoker was a lot like Andre de Lorde, a mild-mannered French librarian at the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal who wrote plays of horror and had them featured at Le Theatre du Grand Guignol, the Parisian playhouse of horrors. Bram Stoker was a man with two sides, and fortunately we received the literary half. A great read!
A towering and gloomy masterwork of gothic splendor, scholarship and imagination.

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More Dracula (novel) reviews
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.
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.
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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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