Jesse's Reviews > Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker
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Apr 10, 2009

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Read in March, 2009

Admire it, certainly, but I can muster up precious little affection for Stoker's famous novel, for despite its reputation as the central progenitor of an enduring mythology I can't but help but find it more as a closing off point than anything else. It discards a lot of the more fascinating elements of vampire mythology that had been developing (I'm thinking specifically of Sheridan le Fanu's Carmilla, read just before), instead establishing precedents that are comparatively dull in their clean, unambiguous delineations (undead=evil, strict heterosexuality, etc). Nina Auerbach, whose Our Vampires, Ourselves I was reading concurrently, states many of my basic objections much more eloquently than I could:
"Dracula is less in love with death or sexuality than with hierarchies, erecting barriers hitherto foreign to vampire literature; the gulf between male and female, class and class, England and non-England, vampire and mortal, homoerotic and heterosexual love, infuses the genre with a new fear: fear of the hated unknown."

But there were things I did like: the structure and form, with its attempt at a kind of "scientific objectivity" that instead forms a chorus of shifting, perhaps even unreliable narrators; also, in retrospect, I've become more and more impressed with the character of Mina, who kind of inadvertently becomes this kind of omnipotent, mystical fusion of domestic goddess and "the modern woman" by the end of the novel (what couldn't she do? Unexpected talents and skills unveiled with each new plot development!).

An important text, without a doubt, but also, if I'm honest, disappointing.


"You do not let your eyes see or your ears hear, and that which is outside your daily life is not of account to you. Do you not think there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see thing that others cannont?"
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message 1: by Rebecca (last edited Apr 10, 2009 02:30PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rebecca "But there were things I did like: the structure and form, with its attempt at a kind of "scientific objectivity" that instead forms a chorus of shifting, perhaps even unreliable narrators"

You should read The Woman in White for more of the same. *nods* Plus, it explores gender with a masculine heroine and a feminine villian and the attraction between them.

Plus, Mina admiration? Really? *quotes the bint*
"But to think he keeps anything from me! And now I am crying like a silly fool, when I know it comes from my husband's great love and from the good, good wishes of those other strong men..."

Seriously. This is typical Mina. And no short-hand skills can redeem her.


Jesse I have a hard time imagining myself reading Woman in White... *shakes fist at Andrew Lloyd Webber*

Your description intrigues me though.


Rebecca *joins fist shaking*
Maybe all the desecrated literary characters will one day avenge themselves on Lloyd Webber. *hopes*
*patents idea for musical* ;)
*casts Lloyd Webber as moustache-twirling villiany*




message 4: by Kelly (new)

Kelly He didn't pretty much already cast himself as that when he agreed to that horror show of neon suits hosted by Graham Norton with the casting for the Technicolor Dreamcoat?

Oh god, my eyes.




message 5: by Jesse (last edited Apr 11, 2009 10:14AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jesse I think a musical where characters exert their revenge on Lloyd Webber is a fantastic idea--somebody must do it!

And on Mina: after seeing her in the original film version of Dracula of character (where's she's reduced to a simpering and wan Victorian shrinking violet) I began to see that she's a much more interesting--and strong--character than I had originally given her credit for. Besides, what's not to love about a character who can unexpectedly spout off the train schedule for all of Eastern Europe when all the hapless men can't figure out what to do next? Or whose first reaction upon reading her husband's journal about being preyed on by a monster is to cooly transcribe it and make several copies? :)


message 6: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Well, I happen to be a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber! If I weren't such a shrinking violet, I'd give you a piece of my mind...


message 7: by Rebecca (last edited Apr 11, 2009 01:24PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rebecca "Besides, what's not to love about a character who can unexpectedly spout off the train schedule for all of Eastern Europe when all the hapless men can't figure out what to do next?"

To be honest, I found the memorised time tables so ridiculous I assumed it was intended comically. At least, my reaction was a laughing 'you sad bastard'. Mina's character was virtuoso simpering with a side order of trainspotting. Did Wino praise her big strong male protectors with the same fervour? :p And as for the film incarnation, tragic heroines >>>> anoraks. :p

*serenades Sarah with pitchy rendition of Memory*


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