In preparation for Hallowe’en I’m tanking myself with Gothic Horror as part of R.I.P. Head over to Stainless Steel Droppings to join in and get your spine tingled.
The first part of the novel has always been my favorite. It’s a study in slow burning terror. The following scenes in Whitby do not compare to Dracula’s Castle and the sinister behavior of its master.
Re-reading I also found a new respect fro Johnathon Harker. He was firmly stuck in my head as an impotent Keanu Reeves, losing his vivacious wife to a charismatic blood sucker. Not so. The man scales a wall (twice!) and keeps up his hope and spirits throughout the whole book, despite being submitted to the worse kinds of mental torture.
First Date Etiquette.
In fact if you do ship Mina and Dracula (#Mracula? #Dracuina?) reading this book will put you off. His attack of her is erotic, but the mere fact that it is erotic makes it all the more flesh-crawling. I’ve also been reading The Monk and a similar scene occurs when Ambrosio breaks into the heroine’s room while she is asleep, only without the metaphorical blood sucking to hide his intentions behind.
That complicated juxtaposition of desire and disgust is irrefutable evidence that sneaking into a woman’s bedroom when she is unconscious is not sexy. Take note, Mr Cullen. It’s been done. It was creepy and wrong then; it is creepy and wrong now.
Dracula himself, is sadly off page for most of the later part of the book. The way he is described is the same mix of attraction and repulsion used above. Even off page, his presence looms large over the action. And the way Van Helsing talks about him gave me a new found respect for what the Count is trying to accomplish and how much effort has gone towards him leaving his own superstitious Romania in order to make a better/safer life for himself in London.
Of course, that isn’t quite how Van Helsing tells it. I’m reading between the lines, but Dracula is a pioneer of vampire-kind, seeking to over come his (super)natural restrictions and improve both himself and his quality of life.
Van Helsing was the only character I found myself frustrated by. Lucy is turning into a vampire! Just tell them already! My modern sensibilities did not appreciate the good hearted reasons behind the old boy’s coyness. It made that part of the book drag a tiny bit, but not so much to ever make me want to stop.
The Buffy of the 1890s?
The Scooby Gang of Victorian Gentleman rallying to take on the Count was a great race against time. Especially when they got over their noble sentiments and actually let Mina (who had previously pulled out her typewriter and organised their flaky, love sick arses into some course of action) be involved in the proceedings.
I have plans for my own fanfiction focusing on the Lucy Westenra Memorial Foundation for the Eradication of the Undead. Young Quincey Harker spends his summer holidays travelling Europe with his parents hunting vampires. Lord Goldaming stumps up the money and Dr Seward provides medical expertise on locating vital organs.
Stoker’s characters were all real and distinct. They made a strong impression on me, as did their friendship forged under fire.
Modern sensibilities firmly locked in a trunk under my bed; I also really wanted Harker and Mina to make their marriage work (#Hina? #Marker?) There is real strength in their love and devotion to each other. No, please, don’t vomit. You don’t go to the trouble of memorizing a train time table for a man if you don’t love him.
In conclusion, if you have any interest in vampires at all, you need to read this book. It has so much to offer in terms of both horror writing, character and the origins (sorry Polydori) of a genre. You’d be mad to leave it languishing in it’s crypt a moment longer.