(Author: Bram Stoker) + (Year: 1897) + (Goodreads)
NOTE: This re-read(first read: 2009) of the book and the following review are the result of the fact that a couple of weeks ago I finally visited amazing Romania and spent a couple of days in the heart of Transylvania, went to the most beautiful place I have seen so far – castle Peles and the surrounding town of Sinaia, with their astonishing nature and architecture. I also had the pleasure of visiting castle Bran, dubbed as Dracula’s castle, though that’s not historically accurate. After that, I had an immense desire to read the book again, and see if my feelings about it would change, now that I’ve visited the lands of Vlad the Impaler.
Like most of you, I assume, I don’t even remember the first time I was introduced to the story/myth about Dracula. That name has been embedded into our minds by pop-culture and to be honest, I don’t see it fading from there any time soon. Generation after generation we are being introduced to the character of the Transylvanian vampire Count Dracula, as well as the subsequent thousands of stories about vampires that have become part of our everyday life by now. It’s equally as normal to discuss vampires as it is to talk about politics and the weather. TV shows such as The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Supernatural, Grimm, Dracula and many more, books and series, movies coming out each year(most recently Dracula Untold), Discovery and History Channel’s shows, comic books, merchandise, fake teeth, Anne Rice groupies, all of those things are all around us every single day.
And they were all inspired by a single book – Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Yes, the myth about vampires, strigoi, upir, you name it, has been around for hundreds, probably thousands of years, but I am a million percent sure that if it weren’t for Stoker’s book, the vampires wouldn’t have become nearly as popular as they are today.
Many have heard and talked about vampires their whole lives, but never even read Dracula. Do you even realize the value of this ground breaking book? For more than 100 years the vampire has haunted the world like in no other time before that, and the reason for it is one man: Bram Stoker.
From the cultural values of this book to its place in our everyday world, it is of course not without its minuses, but what actual meaning do they have in a book so influential? I, for example, didn’t like two things, firstly, all of the characters are entirely too black and white, not enough of their inner motivations are revealed, even though the book is mostly excerpts of diaries, and second – the little information there is about Dracula himself. Although it’s revealed that he was a Transylvanian count, not once is it mentioned that he is the same person as Vlad the Impaler, nothing is said of his real actions – instead there is only vague information about his wars against the Turks. And also, the author is just too laconic when explaining how Dracula became a vampire. But in a book as old, I wouldn’t expect as thorough knowledge of history as we have today, so either way, Stoker omitted much, either due to lack of information, or because he didn’t want it to be a part of his book.
However, I find that there is much that catches the attention in the real life of Vlad III. From historical point of view, I think Dracula Untold is the most informative Hollywood movie there is, and that’s only due to the fact that it tries to tell at least something about the origin of Dracula. If you really want information, I suggest you instead look at a history book or two, of find the documentaries by Discovery Channel and History Channel, which give different information on certain facts, but at least tell the story of the actual Dracula. Among my favourite facts(as grotesque as they are) about Dracula are that he made his men nail the turbans to the heads of the Ottoman envoys because they told him that they can’t remove their “hats” because of anyone but the sultan, also, because he loved putting the impaled corpses everywhere, the stench was unbearable and a Polish nobleman who was visiting Vlad complained about it – as a result Vlad had the nobleman’s nose cut off and then he had him impaled and put on a higher stake than the rest so that he can be above the foul smell. Not to mention that he had 20.000 people impaled and put on stakes around his castle – a sight so grizzly, the usually cruel Ottoman army retreated before the evil of this monster. The vampire myth probably comes from the fact that he liked to dip bread in bowls filled with the blood of the men he had impaled and then he’d eat the bloody bread, probably to show how powerful he is, and not as the result of his vampiristic inclinations, but never mind that.
On the topic of the book, I’d like to remark on the fact that even though most of vampire lore has been created on the grounds of whatever is said in Stoker’s book, a giant misconception must have arisen, because the vampires in the book, and especially Dracula, are completely capable of walking in the daylight. I must have missed that the first time I read it and it took me a while to get it through my brain, but it’s not impossible for vampire to be out during the day, they are simply weaker and Dracula, who has a bat form, mist form and who knows what other forms, cannot use them during the day and must stay in the shape of a man. That is made absolutely and crystal clear by the note Mina sends, explaining that at 12.45 PM Dracula is walking around during the day. The entire vampire fiction-verse has been based on someone reading the book wrong?