Rummanah Aasi
  Bram Stoker's masterpiece, Dracula, has captured the imaginations of many and have spawned an endless fascination of vampires in our pop culture. I really don't think you can call yourself a vampire lover without reading the book. I read Dracula for the first time this year during Halloween and really enjoyed it.

Description: When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck; and a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his 'Master'. A battle of wits between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries ensues with the safety of England is at risk.

Review: I only knew a few things about the original story of Dracula, mainly the names of the characters involved and a good sense of the book's plot. What I didn't know, however, is that the book is solely composed of journals, letters, telegraphs, newsletter clippings, etc from a variety of characters' points of view. I found the structure of Dracula to be absolutely fascinating more so than the book's plot.  
   Dracula as a narrative is deeply embedded in the cultural consciousness. The main male characters have larger sections of the book that details interesting tidbits about the setting and specifically trying to understand the human psychology. With the minor exception (but not all that much) of Mina Murray, the other women in the book are one dimensional either portraying the overly sexed female or the virtuous Victorian female who is easily seduced by the dark side. Though Dracula is the title character of this masterpiece, he doesn't appear very often in the book. We aren't really given any background information about him at all, which would usually annoy me but it works for this book. Dracula becomes more than a character. He is an allegory of all what the Victorians feared: sexuality (specifically women's sexuality), paganism, and the paranoia of the "other". Often times it is hard to distinguish the character's personalities from the Count himself, creating the doppelganger of the character's evil/dark side.
  Gothic and darkly atmospheric, Stoker plays with his audience, manipulating the multiple perspectives of the characters in his novel to play the reader's knowledge and recognition of danger against the character's obliviousness. The different narrative voices are for the most part distinctive from one character to the next and the telling of the story through primarily diary entries as well as letters and newspaper articles is used to its benefit. After reading Dracula, I can now understand why certain vampire characteristics are so commonly used by writers today.  Dracula could be read as a Gothic pulp thriller or an examination of the phobias of the Victorian time period, regardless of how you read it you can't deny its everlasting impact on our culture today.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are some disturbing scenes in the book. Sex is indirectly mentioned by the use of euphemisms and other literary devices. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, Dracula, My Love by Syrie James, Dracula in Love by Karen Essex, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
8 Responses
  1. You might be interested in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge at Man of la Book. Dracula is the first book on the list. :)
    http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=3937


  2. Missie Says:

    *hangs head in shame*

    Okay, so I've kind of read Dracula... butnotreally! I know, I'm such a loser!

    I think the problem was I attempted it at too young an age or something. Since then,I've read it in sections for class assignments, you know the whole 'the use of blood as semen' argument. But I'd like to attempted it again soon, especially to get a sense of that common lore you mentioned.


  3. I've wanted to read this book, but I have a harder time with classics. Yes, I know, I think I just got hit with a stash of tomatoes, but it's true. The language a lot of them are written in are difficult for me to find my reading rhythm. Your review makes me want to pick it up, though. It sounds so interesting, especially with the journal entries and newspaper clippings.


  4. LoriStrongin Says:

    Aww, the crux of my love of vampires! I remember reading this one in sixth grade and being hooked on the genre ever since. True, while the majority of females *are* plot vehicles rather than fully developed characters, that was also the writing style of the time, so I just take the women in Dracula with a grain of salt. Certainly didn't stop me from upgrading to Anne Rice shortly thereafter!


    Smiles!
    Lori


  5. I've always been curious about this book - or at least since I started getting into vampire books. Is it a pretty easy read - as classics go? Or does it get bogged down in the overly flowery language of the era?


  6. Jenny Says:

    I must hang my head in shame along with Missie, I've never read Dracula either! Really, I should have gone back and picked it up since I love vampires so very much, I don't now why I haven't done it yet! It would be fun to see just how much this one has influenced all the vampires to come after it.


  7. Small Review Says:

    I've read the first third of the book, but then I put it down. It was way too much symbolism when at the time I just wanted straight entertainment. I liked the narrative styles though. Someday I'll finish it.


  8. Missie: It took me a while to read the "serious" vamp books too. I was just very curious about this one.

    Jen: Reading classics is difficult. The pace tends to be slow and it takes a while to warm up to the characters. I just like the complexity to the story. And yes, the format of Dracula made it a lot easier to read.

    Alison: I would say the second half got a bit too heavy with the Christian symbolism for me, which is what slowed me down otherwise I would have finished it a lot sooner.

    Jenny: It was really cool looking back and going, "Oh, so that's where that comes from!"

    Small: I felt the same way with the ending which is suppose to be the "thriller" part of the story. I also took notes while reading the book too. I'm such a nerd!


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