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Just finished the novel “Dracula” by Stoker

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cavalier973:
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:
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:
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:
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.

cavalier973:

--- Quote from: Pat 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.

--- End quote ---

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.

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