Concannon's Reviews > Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker
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Jul 09, 08

bookshelves: srs-bsns-aka-literature, classics, vampires, own
Read in July, 2008

[Please note that this is not so much a review as it is a collection of my various thoughts upon finishing the book.]

Okay, so, here's the thing. I was just browsing through other reviews, and most of them start with, "I don't usually read horror novels..." or something to that degree. But I feel like Dracula isn't really horror, even though it is categorized as such. Classically it is, of course it is. It's a prime example of a Gothic novel. But never at any point while I was reading it was I horrified. I'm sure part of this is due to being steeped in the modern genre of horror, slasher movies and their dime store paperback equivalents - I've been desensitized to the subtleties of a novel over a century old. The most distressing thing I encountered in reading was the description of Dracula himself, and that was only enough to make me curl my lip in distaste.

Though really, I gotta say, man am I glad that the hairy palms thing never found a home. Because ew.

Anyway.

Something else that I find interesting about Dracula is its epistolary frame. It allows for close observance of the events within the novel, while not promising anything regarding the ending, and I give Stoker props for that. But I feel that such a frame is also an ideal way to explore characterization, which Stoker does not do. I understand that the point of Dracula is not the individual characters, but I vaguely resent the fact that he has this fantastic way to dig into the workings of these different people and he doesn’t utilize it. He could go into their different methods of coping with the situation, what they’re specifically afraid will happen, whether they feel this is retribution for something or if it’s just fate, and so on.

Instead, they’re like cookie cutter people. One of them will present an idea, and everyone else will chorus, “Jolly good!” and back the idea one hundred percent. I think there’s one occasion when Godalming suggests something, and Van Helsing immediately reprimands him, at which point Godalming says, “Oh, yes, you’re right, I was being a dumbass, I shan’t have an original idea ever again.” THIS IS NOT HOW PEOPLE WORK. Van Helsing is a strong leader, yes, and can rally them to him. But they’re not going to behave like sheep up until that point – they should get angry, they should argue. All we get are sad, tired people; did Stoker forget that when people are backed into a corner, they fight?

Despite my nitpicking, it’s a good book and definitely worth reading.
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message 1: by Joe (new)

Joe Lipham I as well agree that Dracula is a definitive novel of the Gothic book genre. It most definitely fits every aspect of the said genre especially in the lengthy details department as Stoker seems to use vivid and sometimes long detailed paragraphs to describe just one event. I also do agree that the novel was never really terrifying in any way shape or form however, it is safe to say that back in the 19th century when Stoker released the novel the story that lay within the bindings had never been fully seen before and was probably a horrifying spectacle to anyone who read it. The characters in the novel are never really elaborated on however Stoker does seem to spend a rather curious amount of time describing Johnathan Harker's history and background. I do personally believe that Stoker did a fantastic job with the sensory details used to describe the Count however some were rather eccentric such as the hair on the palms. Overall i believe Bram Stoker managed to write one of the most endearing and well renowned novels of the past few centuries as even today the tale of Dracula is still a widely known story that I think will be able to stand the test of time. All in all I think Dracula is worthy of an 8/10.


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