Werner's Reviews > Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker
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Apr 11, 08

bookshelves: classics, supernatural-fiction, vampires
Recommended for: Any fan of vampire fiction, or of supernatural fiction in general
Read in January, 1990

Actually, I read Dracula in a different edition than the Norton one (and so can't comment on that edition's critical features). I'd read a dumbed-down kid's adaptation of it as a child; but when I was in the process of writing my own vampire novel, I wanted to read the real thing, just to experience the roots of the literary tradition. I'm glad that I did!

Of course, Stoker's isn't the first treatment of the vampire theme in literature, though it became the first one to have world-wide popularity, and thus the fountainhead from which most of the subsequent treatments came. He drew on the work of earlier writers, especially John Polidori and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and like them he treats the vampire as an inherently evil entity, one whose human values and conscience are wholly replaced by a ruthless blood thirst, coupled with cunning. But much more than his predecessors, he brings out the Christian symbolism of the legend, inherent for instance in the vampire's fear of the cross and of Communion wafers. Dracula serves very well as a symbol of Satan; while Dr. Van Helsing, loyal son of the Church, is an archetypal Christian warrior against evil. Their struggle for the soul of Mina Harker --bitten by Dracula, but not wholly turned to evil-- becomes a spiritual tug-of-war, emblematic of the spiritual struggle for each of our own souls in the real world (where supernatural evil is just as real).

Not much of the violence here is directly described, nor does Stoker go out of his way to stress the erotic elements that are also inherent in the legend. This reticence is a feature of his Victorian style; so is the novel's epistolary structure and old-fashioned diction, which won't be to every reader's taste. But if you're not scared off by either his subject matter or his style, you'll find this a great read!
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Comments (showing 1-11)




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message 11: by Joy H. (new) - added it

Joy H. Werner, Thanks for the background info on Dracula. I recently tried listening to a Dracula audio disc of the Dracula story by Bram Stoker. Turns out it sounded too spooky for me, with the sounds of people screaming in the distance. :) So I didn't get very far. Perhaps I shouldn't have listened to it in the dark at night. :) I wasn't in the mood for spooky stuff. Funny how our moods determine what we read.


Werner You're welcome, Joy! I've never tried listening to Dracula on an audiotape (though I've seen a live stage version, back in the early 70s), but I can see how the audio effect would enhance the eerie quality. You're right that it's not an ideal book to listen to (or read) in the dark of night --unless you are in the mood to be deliciously scared. :-)


message 9: by Joy H. (last edited Oct 20, 2009 07:17AM) (new) - added it

Joy H. Werner wrote: "You're welcome, Joy! I've never tried listening to Dracula on an audiotape (though I've seen a live stage version, back in the early 70s), but I can see how the audio effect would enhance the eeri..."

Werner, I have a DVD of "Dracula" (1931) on my Netflix queue. I'm waiting to be in the mood to watch it. See the Netflix description at:
http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Dracula/...
Part of the description says: "Bela Lugosi turns in a landmark horror performance in this 1931 adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic vampire novel."


Werner Joy, that's one that I've never seen, though I've seen a number of horror films from the black-and-white era (of course, I've heard of it many times --and seen the Mel Brooks take-off on it, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, which is one of Brooks' better efforts :-)). Whenever you do watch it, I'll look forward to reading your reaction on our movies thread in the Glen Falls group. (Assuming that it will fit into the titular "good movies" category!)


message 7: by Joy H. (new) - added it

Joy H. Werner, maybe I should remove the word "good" from the title of the section! LOL I never thought of the limitations which the word "good" poses. :)

I LOVE Mel Brooks' work. So I've added that movie to my Netflix queue, to be viewed after I view the original "Dracula". Thanks for telling me about it!
Below is a link to the Netflix description of the Brooks movie:
http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Dracula_...

I'll follow up sooner or later. :)


Werner You're welcome, Joy! Hope you enjoy it --watching the original first will probably help you appreciate the take-off even better than I could. :-)


message 5: by Doug (new)

Doug Lamoreux You might also appreciate the Mercury Theater on the Air version with Orson Welles. (The same folks who did the famous War of the Worlds radio play.) Dracula was their first show and it can be downloaded free at the Mercury website. Though they make substantial changes to the story for time and the radio medium, it's a fun listen... with the lights on.


message 4: by Doug (new)

Doug Lamoreux BTW, I enjoyed your review of Stoker's original. Thanks.


message 3: by Joy H. (last edited Jul 09, 2012 04:26AM) (new) - added it

Joy H. Doug wrote: "You might also appreciate the Mercury Theater on the Air version with Orson Welles. (The same folks who did the famous War of the Worlds radio play.) Dracula was their first show and it can be downloaded free at the Mercury website. ..."

Thanks for the suggestion, Doug.

I see that the 1931 version of Dracula with Bela Lagosi is now available for streaming at Netflix. I've put it on my Instant Queue at Netflix.

BTW, for Netflix users, you've probably noticed that Netflix has changed its screen appearance. Note the difference between the following two presentations of the same movie (Dracula 1931):
http://movies.netflix.com/movie/Dracu...
and
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Dra...

I still have to get used to the new screen format. I hate change! :) The old format is more compact and requires less scrolling. I can't understand why they've changed it.


message 2: by Joy H. (last edited Jul 09, 2012 04:26AM) (new) - added it

Joy H. Doug wrote: "You might also appreciate the Mercury Theater on the Air version with Orson Welles. (The same folks who did the famous War of the Worlds radio play.) Dracula was their first show and it can be downloaded free at the Mercury website. ..."

BTW, here's the Mercury Theater website:
http://www.mercurytheatre.info/


Werner Doug, thanks for the tip, and the kind words!


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