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Author Topic: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker  (Read 3445 times)

cavalier973

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Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« on: February 02, 2022, 11:10:23 PM »
It was fine. Not really scary, but maybe it was terrifying when it came out. There are some interesting sections, interspersed with tedious passages involving declarations of how everyone is just the wonderfulest friends anyone can have.

I had watched the Lugosi flick years ago, and don’t really remember it, to compare. It seems that they merged a couple of characters for the movie. I have heard that the Mexican version (filmed in the same studio at the same time as Lugosi’s version, only at night) is superior to the American version. I haven’t seen the more recent movie versions. I understand that the newer versions are heavy on the sexual themes and visuals, but these elements seem absent from the novel, though there are sections containing mild sensuality.

Dracula himself is an abhorrent character, not a romantic figure, and his victims are appropriately tormented and terrified by him.

My favorite part of the book was the beginning, which is the journal of Jonathan Harker, which contains the account of Harker’s visit to Castle Dracula.

My least favorite part was the aforementioned declarations of friendship and admiration. It seems that anytime there is a potential for a serious break in the company, it is immediately resolved by one character and pledging his life to the cause, and everybody else backs down and recommits to the fellowship. There is a lot of crying. It made me laugh aloud.

cavalier973

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2022, 11:24:10 PM »
SPOILERS




One of my frustrations with the story is how little insight the characters have, even the vaunted Prof. Van Helsing. They (eventually) know that they are dealing with a vampire, and have lost one companion to him already, but take no precautions for themselves, which results in a second victim.

“Mena was looking a little paler than usual this morning; naturally, I am mildly worried about her, but I need to focus on figuring out who the vampire is going to target next.”

Well, maybe no *exactly* like that, but close.

Mena, herself, isn’t much better. “Dear diary: I am having fearful nightmares, just like my friend Lucy had when she was being attacked by a vampire. Much weirdness. I’d better not tell anyone because I don’t want them to worry.”

cavalier973

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2022, 11:29:45 PM »
One interesting tidbit has a character stating that he used his “Kodak” to get some pictures of a house for a customer. I looked up “Kodak”, and saw that the company was started in 1892, while the novel was published in 1897.

Pat

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2022, 02:07:38 AM »
I found the epistolary structure of the novel interesting. It creates a certain distance between the reader and the characters.

Agree about the non-romantic nature of Dracula. The descriptions of him are often inhuman, and not in a positive sense. The part where he crawls down the wall sticks with me.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2022, 02:13:44 AM by Pat »

cavalier973

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2022, 07:41:57 AM »
I found the epistolary structure of the novel interesting. It creates a certain distance between the reader and the characters.

Agree about the non-romantic nature of Dracula. The descriptions of him are often inhuman, and not in a positive sense. The part where he crawls down the wall sticks with me.

I agree about the form of the story. It adds a small mystery to the reader: who, exactly, is collecting these letters and memoranda?

Part of the frustration I have is that Stoker could have used an editor (or, a better one, if he already had an editor). I can imagine the different ways that the story could have gone. I am not from that era, and I guess what Stoker’s contemporary readers would have found compelling I find contrived. The example of any threat of conflict within the anti-Dracula league to be immediately resolved within the same conversation. I would have had John Seward try to commit Van Helsing to his asylum, for example. Van Helsing’s actions and explanations, no matter how weird and unsatisfying are accepted almost without challenge. His, “I would DIE for Riley!” seems to shut down any arguments, every time. The part about Lucy’s mother undoing the work he did to protect the girl was good, but it should have made him even more cautious with the others. “We need to all wear a garlic necklace when we go to bed, even the men, as a precaution.

HappyDaze

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2022, 07:52:39 AM »
SPOILERS




One of my frustrations with the story is how little insight the characters have, even the vaunted Prof. Van Helsing. They (eventually) know that they are dealing with a vampire, and have lost one companion to him already, but take no precautions for themselves, which results in a second victim.

“Mena was looking a little paler than usual this morning; naturally, I am mildly worried about her, but I need to focus on figuring out who the vampire is going to target next.”

Well, maybe no *exactly* like that, but close.

Mena, herself, isn’t much better. “Dear diary: I am having fearful nightmares, just like my friend Lucy had when she was being attacked by a vampire. Much weirdness. I’d better not tell anyone because I don’t want them to worry.”
How long is the spoiler window going to be for this?

Godfather Punk

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2022, 08:08:23 AM »
I had watched the Lugosi flick years ago, and don’t really remember it, to compare. It seems that they merged a couple of characters for the movie. I have heard that the Mexican version (filmed in the same studio at the same time as Lugosi’s version, only at night) is superior to the American version. I haven’t seen the more recent movie versions. I understand that the newer versions are heavy on the sexual themes visuals, but these elements seem absent from the novel, though there are sections containing mild sensuality.
There was a Youtube video comparing all versions of Dracula movies and tv series to the Bram Stoker novel (Both Nosferatu movies, Bella Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Frank Langela, Gary Oldman, maybe even Leslie Nielsen... Mexican and Turkish versions...). The most faithful was the FF Coppola version with Gary Oldman; not saying it was the best movie, but it got the most story beats right. (Edit: nope! The BBC series took first place, but FFC was the runner up).

Edit: goddit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9D74m628gQ
« Last Edit: February 05, 2022, 08:17:17 AM by Godfather Punk »

cavalier973

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2022, 08:39:25 AM »
SPOILERS




One of my frustrations with the story is how little insight the characters have, even the vaunted Prof. Van Helsing. They (eventually) know that they are dealing with a vampire, and have lost one companion to him already, but take no precautions for themselves, which results in a second victim.

“Mena was looking a little paler than usual this morning; naturally, I am mildly worried about her, but I need to focus on figuring out who the vampire is going to target next.”

Well, maybe no *exactly* like that, but close.

Mena, herself, isn’t much better. “Dear diary: I am having fearful nightmares, just like my friend Lucy had when she was being attacked by a vampire. Much weirdness. I’d better not tell anyone because I don’t want them to worry.”
How long is the spoiler window going to be for this?

The rest of the thread may contain spoilers.

What I actually did was listen to the unabridged audiobook on YouTube. Stephen Red Fox Garnett. He has several book on his channel. He did a good job, but I think his interpretation of the dialogue colored my perception of the story.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2022, 09:25:46 AM »
You might be interested in reading The Dracula Tapes by Fred Saberhagen. It recounts the events from Dracula’s perspective.

cavalier973

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2022, 11:29:33 AM »
You might be interested in reading The Dracula Tapes by Fred Saberhagen. It recounts the events from Dracula’s perspective.

That does sound interesting. The anti-Count group became annoying enough to me that I was almost rooting for Dracula to win.

Dracula’s problem was that he picked the wrong girls to mess with. Had he gone for some lower-class women, he could probably have lived comfortably for some years.

cavalier973

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2022, 01:01:42 PM »
I had watched the Lugosi flick years ago, and don’t really remember it, to compare. It seems that they merged a couple of characters for the movie. I have heard that the Mexican version (filmed in the same studio at the same time as Lugosi’s version, only at night) is superior to the American version. I haven’t seen the more recent movie versions. I understand that the newer versions are heavy on the sexual themes visuals, but these elements seem absent from the novel, though there are sections containing mild sensuality.
There was a Youtube video comparing all versions of Dracula movies and tv series to the Bram Stoker novel (Both Nosferatu movies, Bella Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Frank Langela, Gary Oldman, maybe even Leslie Nielsen... Mexican and Turkish versions...). The most faithful was the FF Coppola version with Gary Oldman; not saying it was the best movie, but it got the most story beats right.

Edit: goddit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9D74m628gQ

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Stephen Tannhauser

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2022, 03:35:37 PM »
What I always found most interesting about Dracula as a novel was the fact that it plays out, in practice, almost like a technothriller or a science fiction story, in that it's about the clash of two very different worlds and ways of thinking, and the ways in which the modern characters have to think of how to use the newest technologies and innovations they can find in order to counter the mysterious, overwhelming power of this outside intrusive force.

It's also, in a way, about rediscovering the virtues of that previous way of thinking as well: 1890s England thought of itself as very civilized and sophisticated, and had a very large streak of condescension and ironic flippancy about the old-fashioned courtly virtues of previous ages (Ivanhoe, which is basically the world's biggest take-the-mickey on mediaeval romance, was published in 1819). When the characters swear loyalty to each other and weep in distress and happiness the way old-fashioned knightly romantic heroes would, it's the positive dimension of the past breaking back into the present, as Dracula himself is the negative dimension.
Better to keep silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. -- Mark Twain

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Omega

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2022, 06:46:14 PM »
One interesting tidbit has a character stating that he used his “Kodak” to get some pictures of a house for a customer. I looked up “Kodak”, and saw that the company was started in 1892, while the novel was published in 1897.

You were probably reading one of the various 'modernized' versions. Or even a edited version.
This is something to keep en mind with say the english versions of 20000 Leagues. The translators/editirs for the book and I velieve Mysterious Island changed and added some things here and there. Theres a few online sites that enumerate the differences. Even more modern books like Harry Potter have been edited for US readers because they are apparently too stupid to understand some word differences or what a Philosophers Stone is.

Dracula the story comes across as scary or not depending on how inured to this stuff one is now. Modern readers expect gore and blood everywhere. This was even commented on in a vampire book from the 80s or 90s were someone in the story was complaining that biting the neck and sucking the blood in a movie wasnt how movie vampires are supposed to work. They are supposed to rip out the throat and blood gushing everywhere.

cavalier973

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2022, 07:13:55 PM »
Folding pocket cameras had been invented by 1897, and so are not an anachronism, I’ve discovered.

https://www.liquisearch.com/eastman_kodak/history/timeline/1880_to_1900

Trond

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Re: Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2022, 11:08:35 PM »
I always meant to get to this novel, but it's never been at the top of my list. I did get through another "Gothic" novel a while ago: Phantom of the Opera. I wonder if they are comparable in style.

That's interesting info on the cameras.