Count Dracula has inspired countless movies, books, and plays. But few, if any, have been fully faithful to Bram Stoker’s original, best-selling novel of mystery and horror, love and death, sin and redemption. Dracula chronicles the vampire’s journey from Transylvania to the nighttime streets of London. There, he searches for the blood of strong men and beautiful women while his enemies plot to rid the world of his frightful power.
Today’s critics see Dracula as a virtual textbook on Victorian repression of the erotic and fear of female sexuality. In it, Stoker created a new word for terror, a new myth to feed our nightmares, and a character who will outlive us all.
Nothing like I thought it would be! I was expecting endless detail of blood and murder and a stalking vampire, enough to frighten me in my dreams and turn them into nightmares!
However, I am not saying that this novel was not chilling. There were moments of pure terror that I had to put the book down for a few minutes and turn on lights. Everything about this novel involves repression – of sexuality, sensuality, religion, science – and I can certainly say the some of the most terrifying images involved these repressions. Take blood transfusions: we do this all the time in order to test for disease, disorders, and give blood to another to save lives. However, in 1897, this was extremely new and controversial; blood types were not yet discovered, and one false transfusion would involve death! Luckily this did not happen in the novel, but I was intensely fearful that the act of transferring blood from one person to another would lead to a vicious death. Another image was also extremely erotic and dually disgusting: Dracula’s act of ripping off his shirt so that Mina would suck the blood from his chest. While an extremely sensual image – and well-acted in various plays when the Dracula character is played by an attractive young man – it is also revolting, for Dracula is an old, withering, smelly aristocrat with hairy palms.
This is quite the adventure novel, as well! Old World meets New World, science meets religion, the most advanced technology of the time (phonographs to record diary entries, women learning to type, blood transfusions) meets folklore – it’s all here. This novel can easily be adapted to modern times, and I think this is why our fascination with vampires (particularly Dracula) continues today.
Goodreads: 3.87 of 5