Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Special Note: I had planned on reviewing Dracula Un-Dead with Rebecca this week but life happened to get in the way coupled with no net for the past few days so I got a bit behind on things especially my reading. Grr. So, since I'm like one of the five people in the world who hadn't read Dracula until now, I decided to read it before the sequel. Here are my thoughts of the original granddaddy vampire that started the phenomenon, Dracula. And a special review for the other four people. ;-)

-Rae



My edition of Dracula is the tie-in for Francis Ford Coppola's movie. It includes a wonderful intro by Leonard Wolf and some black and white glossy pics from the movie (which I didn't mind because the costumes, makeup and setting were gorgeous despite the muddled adaptation). I really liked the intro that gave an overview of the history of vampire literature including the effect that Dracula had on mainstream culture (including all silver screen incarnations).

Today's audiences know the pop culture ideal of Dracula and his effects on vampire lore. Thus the great reveal isn't so great but the classic vampire story still holds up today. As a historical gothic horror, it's an amazing piece of work for setting a mood for a spooky tale as the inhabitants of Yorkshire are effected by Dracula's presence. Although not the first in vampire literature, it's easy to see how the influence was great in overall vampire culture. The style of journal entries revealing the character's fear and inner thoughts offers a type of storytelling that still seems fresh today in the age of 'found footage'.

One interesting aspect is Jonathan Harker's opening meditation on the various nationalities among the Carpathian mountains which reveal a lot of British thoughts toward "the other" immigrants of the time. Dracula himself is an exotic representation of such a background as well as the darkness of humanity. Mina Harker (nee Murray) turned out to be a pretty smart and strong yet vulnerable character. She's right there with the guys trying to dissect and figure out the deaths and mysteries surrounding their town and even gets armed with her own revolver towards the end climax.

I wish I had a chance to read this in depth when I was younger. I knew it in passing, from lightly flipping through it, and from pop culture but never had a chance to read it fully until now. I had studied the real life inspiration (Wallachian prince Vlad Tepes III aka Vlad Dracul aka the Impaler) and enjoyed all the behind the scenes docs on the book and historical figure. It was interesting seeing how much of real history Stoker incorporated in Dracula. I'm sure I would have eaten this book right up along with Interview With the Vampire. Modern audiences may think the story is a bit slow moving since most of the action takes place off screen and is talked about via the diary entries afterward. Still, the emotion is strong, the characters are multifaceted, the mood is dark and the dialogue is snappy. This is a definite new favorite of mine and will take it's place right next to the Vampire Chronicles and my The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories paperback.

10 comments:

jennifer said...

and it sure doesn't hurt that in the movie the men are hot lol

Rebecca Royce said...

LOL to Jennifer's comment. Rae, I had no idea you hadn't read the first one. I'm so glad you read it now. I loved it when I first read it. It really opened my mind and imagination to things I'd never even dreamed of before. To me, it's a love story between Mina and Jonathan.

jennifer said...

and i'm of the thinking it was a love story between mina and dracula.

J Hali said...

Liked jennifer's comment too - hot men never hurt a story!

I'm a fan of Gary Oldman's Dracula and I so felt the connection with him and Mina. OMG, my heart bled when he lay on the chapel floor and she held him. Oh, It was definitely their love story.

Annie Nicholas said...

*raises hand* I am one of those four but I did see the movies.

I too thought the romance between Mina and Dracula. One across time and death, and very sad.

Sapphire Phelan said...

You should read the original book. The Cappaola version has changed it some.

Rae Lori said...

Yes some folks call the Gary Oldman version the Bram Stoker's Francis Ford Coppola's and every one else including the producer's version of Dracula since so many hands were in the pot! I have to agree with Rebecca that I really loved the love story between Mina and Jonathan in Stoker's book and I LOVED that Mina was one tough and whip smart cookie.

I wouldn't mind seeing a new faithful edition of Dracula on the big screen someday. I think it would work especially since there are so many historical fans and vampire fans already. We just need to mesh them together. :-D

Sandra Sookoo said...

Yeah, I've never read it either, but did like how Mina's character was portrayed in the movie League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Liena Ferror said...

I've seen the movie but never read the original story. I think I should after this great post!

Liena~

Rae Lori said...

You guys should read it! If you like gothic historical fiction with a dash of paranormal, you'd love it. :-)