Dracula

by Bram Stoker

Hardcover, 1992

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

Barnes Noble Books (1992), 418 pages

Description

Having deduced the double identity of Count Dracula, a wealthy Transylvanian nobleman, a small group of people vow to rid the world of the evil vampire.

User reviews

LibraryThing member kambrogi
Whether you have read the book or not, no doubt you know the basics of this classic 1897 novel. Although it wasn't the first Gothic or the first vampire literature, it set the stage for every vampire story that followed it. You’ll already know what Dracula looks like, where he lives, what he is about, his strengths and his weaknesses. What you may not know – as I did not – is:

1. Although we do visit Castle Dracula in Transylvania, the bulk of the story takes place in England, where our villain pursues innocent women, and is pursued by a noble band of strapping heroes that include The Imprisoned Solicitor, The Lordly Aristocrat, The Charming American, the Thoughtful Psychologist and The Elderly Dutch Doctor, whose wisdom guides them all. Not only them, but:

2. A wonderful, strong woman – the most inspiring I’ve met in 19th century literature – takes her place among them. The wife of The Imprisoned Solicitor, Mina is a teacher and aspiring journalist who carefully records her experiences and impressions, is fascinated by technology, travels on her own, takes charge of difficult situations, reads feminist literature, makes decisions so brilliant the men often follow her lead – and carries a gun when she must! At the same time, she demonstrates the sensitivity and tenderness, the vulnerability, and the absolute devotion to Home and God that the age (and the Count) demanded of its women. She’s got it all.

3. The tale is told entirely through fictional “primary sources” -- diaries, medical records, telegrams, newspaper articles and letters. Thus, almost every detail is told in the first person, mostly by the primary characters, and each voice is wonderfully true to type, including the “foreign” syntax of the Dutchman’s speech and the irrepressible “slang” of the American.

The book is long and sometimes a bit drawn out, when we are so anxious for resolution, but it is a surprisingly modern classic on many levels, with everything a thrilling adventure requires. Those who read a lot of grisly contemporary horror literature may find it tame, but on a dark autumn evening, tucked into a warm chair by a flickering fire, I found it just perfect.
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LibraryThing member TadAD
In a way, you know what's going to happen; this story has been part of our culture for too many years (and too many movies) not to know. On the other hand, that didn't spoil it.

I'd divide this book into three parts. The first part (until Lucy's story is done) and the last part (once the active chase for Dracula starts) I found delightfully creepy and suspenseful. It was easy to see how this spawned over a century of horror stories. It was also fun to see the antecedents of all the little details of our current vampire mania—Eric gets Sookie to drink his blood so he can track her and hear her thoughts?...ahem, been there, read that.

The middle portion of the book was a tiny bit of a slog. It was light in the adventure department and rather high in both the protagonists-must-be-stupid and the people-must-pontificate departments. Oh well, it was another era and another standard of what is enjoyable in a story.

I recommend giving it a try; the very lack of modern "polish" lets this book conjure up a nice sense of darkness and terror.
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LibraryThing member brenzi
Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel “Dracula” has never been out of print since it was originally published in 1897. That means the book has been available to readers for over a hundred years. It took me almost that long to give it a whirl and now that I’ve finished it all I can say is, “Wow!” It was not at all what I expected. There was some blood and gore, sure, but the story was so much more than that.

Told in epistolary form, the book opens with young solicitor Jonathan Harker preparing for his trip to Transylvania, where he will oversee the transfer of a piece of property in London to a certain Count Dracula. But then some very strange things start happening to him while he’s in the castle and soon he realizes that he is imprisoned there and running for his life.

“The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.
But I am not in heart to describe beauty, for when I had seen the view I explored further; doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all locked and bolted. In no place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit.
The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!” (Page 25)

Meanwhile his fiancé doesn’t know where he is or what’s happening.

From that point on we meet the vampire, the vampire killers, the lust for blood, wolves, three wanton female vampires and a resident of an insane asylum who serves as a sensor as to the whereabouts of the Count. Stoker provides an engaging story of the hunt for Count Dracula after establishing he is, indeed, a vampire, systematically identifying his prey among the friends of Jonathan Harker.

The book is teeming with symbolism and explores the themes of the role of women in Victorian London, the promise of Christian salvation, the consequences and advantages of the advancing Industrial Age. A surprisingly enjoyable read that once again has me shaking my head wondering why I took so long to get to this gem. Very highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member girlunderglass
If we're going to thoroughly analyze this, we have to mention that, though it doesn't matter much in the end, yes, there are many flaws with Dracula. My personal pet peeve is the underdeveloped characters. First, there is no difference between the voices of the male characters - five different persons sound, feel, think, act as one and the same, to the degree that you have to keep checking whose narrative you are following. Stoker tries to differentiate his characters through superficial features such as nationality: Van Helsing speaks with what is supposedly a Dutch accent - though this is not consistently sustained throughout the whole book - and the American always speaks "laconically". That dreadful word was used so much in relation to Quincey it was getting ridiculous. "Count me in, Professor", said Quincey Morris laconically. "Me too", said Quincey Morris laconically. "What shall we do exactly?" asked Quincey Morris laconically. You can see the very beginning of a character sketch (Quincey: doesn't speak much, always ready for action; Van Helsing: the leader, has all the answers etc.) but then the author just stops, seemingly content with those very basic descriptions. He makes no effort to give depth to his characters and provide them with individual personalities. They were all "gentle, noble, true, kind, brave, manly" etc. Next, when it comes to Mina, the female protagonist, Stoker starts out well enough: he bestows on her a degree of intelligence, independence and resourcefulness unusual for the era he was living in and quite daring. (though, of course, he acknowledges this is not typical of the weaker sex: "her great brain which is trained like man's brain but is of sweet woman".) As the story progresses, however, she too ends up as a stereotype. Soon enough she assumes the typical role of the Angel - the embodiment of goodness, with no character flaws allowed in her. She represents for each and every one of the five men the Ideal Woman that they must protect at any cost: pure, honest, bashful, gentle, loving, vulnerable. The only character exempt from the boredom of being completely good or completely evil - and more interesting for that reason - was Renfield, who kept switching from barking mad, to extremely intelligent and "cured", to an evil man with a plan, to a mere victim of circumstances.

But let's forget about the characters for a second. The bad guys/good guys format is kept throughout the novel, and though it leaves no room for ambiguity, the truth is it enhances the action just fine. The greatest thing about Dracula is that, even knowing as you do what is going to happen - from countless movies and parodies - the sense of suspense is surprisingly maintained until the very end. Stoker never has to resort to gory details, which today's audience supposedly "needs", to make his story interesting. The format and writing style are great aids in this accomplishment, of course, but the author also had other ways of jolting his readers. Let's not forget that this is the Victorian era we're talking about, which means that the mere fact that women were presented as lustful, cruel and sexual (when under the influence of vampires) was shocking to many readers of the time. ("Lucy Westerna, but yet how changed. The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness.") The writing flows very well and, excluding some less than fascinating moments in the middle of the book (letters between Lucy and Mina) the reader is kept happily in suspense for the whole duration of the story. Another plus: there's a contemporary feel to Dracula which could be attributed I think to the format it employs (it is written in diary and letter form) and the often mention and use of the technological advances of the time. (phonographs, telegrams) The protagonists keep mentioning how "in this scientific era" it is very hard to believe in supernatural things - a statement the modern reader can easily identify with. I don't think I'm exaggerating in saying this is the ultimate Gothic novel. At least not since Wuthering Heights have I read a book so exemplary of Gothic literature, with its typical blend of romance and horror elements. And while the repeated compliments, declarations of love and vows of loyalty between the six characters did get a bit tiring, the horror parts on the other hand were done to perfection. This might be because they weren't so much horrifying or scary as extremely suspenseful and exciting: the book felt a lot like a very atmospheric detective story.

The biggest compliment I think I can give the book is this: horror is possibly my least favourite genre, when it comes to both books and movies, closely followed by romance. Considering that this book combines my two least favourite genres, it's a testament to the novel's power and timelessness that I enjoyed it as I did.
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LibraryThing member SqueakyChu
Vampires and classic novels are not my thing. The odd part of this equation is that I just finished reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula and loved it! Epistolary novels, in this case a novel told in diary and journal entries, don’t thrill me too much either. What was it then that grabbed me right from the start and wouldn’t let go?

Perhaps I was just in the right mood, since I’d just finished another novel that put me in gear for something mysterious. Maybe it was that this book had been recommended to me a while back after I had read The Historian. Whatever it was, this book was the right choice at the right time.

This is the story, not of Dracula, but of Jonathan Harker and his girl-friend Mina. Jonathan is a solicitor (lawyer) who was sent by his boss to the home of Count Dracula to complete a real estate transaction for a property in England. Jonathan travels alone to the castle of the Count in Transylvania, discovers that all is not right in the home of his host, and ends up imprisoned within the castle. Meanwhile, back in England, Mina becomes worried when Jonathan does not return.

The pacing of this book is phenomenal. It’s not scary or gory or anything that I’d imagine a Dracula story to be. It’s a well thought out mystery that pulls into play much Dracula lore that is still used in literature and other media today.

This is not a particularly easy read. It is detailed and moves from the writing of one person to the next. The story takes place through the narratives of its various characters. One of these, a psychiatrist from the Netherlands who comes to England to help resolve problems that have developed, speaks a broken English. Throughout the book, I was careful to read very slowly what this Dr. Van Helsing had to say. I didn’t want to miss any of his expertise.

For my careful reading, I was richly rewarded. I could not guess the outcome of this story even when I was within a few pages of its end. This was an entirely satisfying read. Now, for the first time ever, I can say that I’ve enjoyed a classic novel about a vampire. How unlike me!
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LibraryThing member Foxen
More my thoughts than a review:

What a good book! The spookiness, the creeping awareness of the situation, and the anguish of the transition from rational men of science into people who can and must believe in something occult are all extremely well done. I would recommend this book to everyone. I also liked and found interesting how the terror of the situation is conveyed almost entirely as a religious and moral horror that is almost overpowering, rather than relying on actual physical peril- yes Dracula has an impregnable fortress and hordes of wolves at his command, but for the majority of the book he is in a relatively weak position and he's totally helpless during daylight hours. That the book is so effective in making him a formidable and frightening enemy without relying on Dracula's physical attributes shows good writing and really shows that that is the focus of the novel. Vampires are not just scary monsters, they are a threat to the integrity of the human soul, and that should be, and is, terrifying.

I also like the presentation of the story through the letters and diaries of the characters. Depending on how well it's done I either find epistolary novels annoying or fantastic, and Dracula is definitely in the fantastic category. It's very effective for only slowly revealing what's going on and conveying the misgivings and perceptions of the characters. From a point of view of thinking about archives and documentation, which I've been doing a lot recently, I also really liked the "Note" section at the end (no spoilers) which noted that most of their documentation for the events of the story (i. e. the diaries and letters you've just been reading) aren't authentic and have no provenance- they're typeset copies of the handwritten documents which no longer exist, and therefore wouldn't be accepted as historical proof of their exploits. That pleases me as an archival aside and also ties in with the believability of the occult theme. Really, the whole thing is very well thought out and wonderfully executed. Dracula definitely deserves its literary status.
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LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
I started this in highschool, and put it down not far into it. Looking back, I have to think that I either didn't have the patience, or just wasn't quite old enough to appreciate it. More than a decade after that false start, I'm thankful to have finally restarted and allowed myself to fall into this fascinating book.

Something like fifty pages in, the book had entirely engaged me with its language, its characters, and its subtle power. A hundred pages in, I was on the phone with my fiance, fascinated and discomfitted by how much the book had me hooked and unhinged. I couldn't understand how, having known the basics of the story and the character for years, the book could still manage to bother me--one way or another, it got into my head. All I can say is that this book carries so much atmosphere with it--in language and subject--that it manages to be timeless and powerful, no matter how familiar you may think you are with the legends and the story. Stoker's understanding of the human psyche, and terror, combined with a page-turning and fluent structure, make this book not only classic, but unforgettable and worth every page. If you get fifty pages in, you'll be used to the structure and entirely hooked. I strongly recommend it, with the note that the best experience will come if you read this when you've time to really soak into the book in long stretches, instead of taking it in small doses in doctor's offices or etc.… (more)
LibraryThing member avidmom
Leviticus 17:14 “ For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.”

Dracula has been on my TBR pile for a while but when my son rented the movie, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” I was so unimpressed by it that I had to know if what was presented in the film version matched the novel. So Dracula moved up a few notches.

Everybody knows who Dracula is, the Un-Dead, King of the Vampires. I thought I knew what to expect here – vampires chasing people, people chasing vampires around tombs, ancient castles and cemeteries. (Maybe I watched too many Scooby Doo cartoons as a kid.) That does happen here but it makes up a surprisingly small part of the story. There was much more to the story than I expected. Dracula is at first a psychological mystery, then a medical mystery which then slowly evolves into a creepy cat and mouse game.

The book opens with Jonathan Harker traveling to Transylvania to handle some real estate transactions with Count Dracula. Once there, Harker witnesses some strange goings-on and eventually finds himself imprisoned in Dracula’s castle. He manages to escape, but not unscathed, as he becomes physically ill with “brain fever” and begins to wonder if what he witnessed at the castle was a result of his illness. Or is it the other way round? Jonathan had kept a journal during his stay at the castle but wants so badly to hide the horror from himself that he entrusts the journal to his fiancé, Mina. She is not to read it unless circumstances make it absolutely necessary. While Mina is away tending to her fiancé, her best friend Lucy falls ill. Young, vibrant and happily engaged Lucy is becoming increasingly weaker and pale. No one can understand why. Dr. Seward, Lucy’s jilted suitor, runs a lunatic asylum next door and is baffled by Lucy’s condition. He asks for the help of his old medical school professor, Professor Van Helsing. Although Van Helsing is a medical doctor and a lawyer, it is not his knowledge of medical science that sheds light on Lucy’s situation but rather his knowledge of folk lore, superstition and his faith in the supernatural that is key to unlocking the mystery.

One of the things that caught my attention, mostly because I didn’t expect it, is all the references to Christianity. It seems as though Stoker took the basic tenets of the Christian faith and put them in front of a mirror. Like the reflection of letters in a mirror, things are the same, just reversed. Christianity, at its most basic level, is about death, resurrection and blood. It doesn’t take too much to see that Dracula is Stoker’s picture of the opposite Christ. In the New Testament, Jesus gives His blood freely so that others may have life; Dracula selfishly takes it so that he himself may live. To partake in the blood of Christ is to reconcile the believer with God; here to partake in the blood of the vampire is to be separated from Him. Sometimes the allusions to the New Testament are quite apparent, at other times they are more subtle. “Alas! how can I disbelieve! In the midst of my thought my eye fell on the red scar on my poor darling’s white forehead. Whilst that lasts, there can be no disbelief” It is hard to read that and not have the story of doubting Thomas come to mind.

The idea of a synergy between faith in the unseen and what is tangible is another theme here. Everyone has a part in defeating the Monster but the characters in the story who are key to defeating the Count are Professor Van Helsing and Mina. The Professor holds science, superstiton, and faith in equal esteem, all of which he uses to great effect. Mina is praised by one of the men in the story for having “the heart of a woman and the brain of a man.” It is easy to glean from the story the idea of logic as a masculine trait and faith as a feminine one. Just as the men and women in this story work together here to defeat evil, faith and logic work together as well. “… we each held ready to use our various armaments – the spiritual in the left hand, the mortal in the right.”

Dracula was so much better than I had expected. The characters here, male and female, are all very intelligent and strong. There is a deep love and respect between all of them. Considering the novel bears his name, Dracula has very little to say in it. He is an elusive foe whose presence is more implied and felt more frequently than seen. It certainly makes for a suspenseful story. If I have one criticism it is that the ending was a bit drawn out and anti-climatic as I expected a more fiery confrontation between the heroes and Dracula. Once again, however, the fault probably lies more with my preconceived expectations than with the novel itself. I haven’t read too many Gothic horror novels but one of the things I like about them is there is always such a deeper level of meaning than what is on the surface. Dracula is one of those novels that could be dissected and picked apart ad infinitum to find all the different levels of meaning it contains.

And, did the movie match the novel? Not even close!
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LibraryThing member alana_leigh
Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of those classics where everyone is familiar with the story, but many people assume they can survive without reading the actual book and simply scrape by with movie adaptations. This is simply not so, my friends. Dracula is a fantastic literary creation and to only be "vaguely" aware of the basic story is to cheat yourself out of a magnificent tale. If you're sick of sparkly vampires, then return to the granddaddy of them all... and he'll show you that real vampires are not covered in glitter, sensitive, or interested in redefining "vegetarian." They're devoid of souls and they are rather intent on killing/stealing your girlfriend.

This is my second reading of Dracula and it was even better than I remember. If you haven't yet had the pleasure, I'll do a very quick summary. The novel is told from several perspectives through a variety of means -- mostly diaries/journals with the occasional letter or telegram tossed in to ratchet up the suspense value. Vampires, beautiful women, blood, death, insanity! It's awesome.

Unlikely as it may sound, it all starts with a business trip. Jonathan Harker is an attorney who has traveled to Transylvania to assist some Count with an international real estate transaction. Sounds fairly boring, right? (Well, aside from the fact that in the late 1800s, any kind of big travel experience is major.) Of course, it's somewhat disconcerting how all these villagers keep crossing themselves when he explains where he's going or they try desperately to dissuade him. Huh. Weird. (See the first Hark, A Vagrant comic here.) Upon arrival at Castle Dracula, Harker is totally unaware that his host is undead; Dracula just seems to keep crazy hours... and there don't seem to be any servants... and they only seem to talk at night... and soon Harker realizes he's a prisoner. Hmmm. Something fishy's going on here. Finally, when Harker sees his host crawling up the side of the castle, his growing suspicions explode into full on freak-out. His journal entry cuts off after he makes an attempt to escape (and after an encounter with three beautiful woman who clearly want to drain him of his blood and perhaps more), so we're left to wonder for a while as to what became of our somewhat dim-witted fellow.

We then switch the focus of our story over to Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra (aside from this small diversion about a ship that arrives with only a dead captain strapped to the helm and a ship's log that suggests something was killing them off one by one... but surely that can't have any play in our main story, can it?). Lucy and Mina write back and forth about their lives and loves. Mina is engaged to Jonathan Harker (and is starting to get concerned when his letters drop off) and Lucy's juggling suitors before receiving three marriages proposals in one day from three friends -- though she accepts the last, Arthur Holmwood. The men remain friends, though Dr. John Seward (who heads up a lunatic asylum) and Mr. Quincey Morris (a brave American) are still in love with Lucy and hover about while Lucy seems to be falling more and more ill. Even a visit from Mina only does Lucy a little good before Mina receives word that Jonathan is in some foreign hospital and she runs to his bedside. Mina, reunited with Jonathan, marries him while abroad (otherwise it wouldn't be seemly, don't you know); meanwhile, the big guns are brought in to figure out Lucy's mystery illness -- Dr. Van Helsing arrives with a crazy theory that he refuses to tell anyone about until it's too late.

Vampires.

Or rather, Dracula. The man (still a man?) himself was on that cursed boat where the crew was picked off one-by-one and now he's on English shores. It's up to Van Helsing, Lucy's grief-stricken suitors, Mina and Jonathan to put a stop to the blood-sucking monster (and Lucy, btw)... but will they be able to succeed without sacrificing yet another of their own?

That's all fairly simplistic, but one of the best parts of this book is watching everyone run around, wondering what could possibly be wrong with Lucy, while the modern reader fights the impulse to shake them all... but of course, how could the characters possibly know? It took this novel to essentially define an entire category of supernatural being so that we would all know the signs. Obviously, Bram Stoker didn't invent vampires, and even Count Dracula himself is based on the

Dracula is one of those books that proves a novel's merit does not always rest in some big reveal. You can know the ending and still have a wonderful experience with just the telling of the story. Every modern reader knows what's going on, and yet the book is still fabulous. It's full of thrills and chills and adventure. The multiple formats allow for perspective shifts that actually add something to the story rather than take away (to the point where it's almost disappointing when everyone is collaborating towards the end so everyone knows what's going on). The female characters are a bit wimpy (except for the lady vampires who nearly ravish Harker) and I find it hard to believe that Mina's excellence is so exemplary that the man fawn over her as they do, but so it goes. It also seemed a bit too easy to dispatch of Dracula the way they did, but I guess any ending would be somewhat unsatisfactory when it ends with the mega-vampire biting the dust. Still, the majority of the novel is a delightful and ridiculous ride. If you haven't read it, you're in for a treat and if you're like me and have read it... well, there's nothing wrong with going back for another bite.
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LibraryThing member absurdeist
Dracula's one of those classic books you can really sink your teeth into! (Har).

Tired of Twilight? Read Dracula! Tired of all those Twilight reviews? Try a Dracula review!

And don't blame Stephanie what's-her-name for Twilight. Instead, blame the true culprit, Bram Stoker, for Twilight, because it's Stoker's fault that Twilight ever got written in the first place. Not to say he invented vampires (he didn't), or that Dracula was the first work of fiction ever written about vampires (it wasn't), but his beyond-iconic book, really more about Victorian sexual repression than about brutal blood suckers per se, popularized, and truly drove, for better or for worse (and I'd say for better, despite even the Twilight tripe), the vampire archetype deep into the 20th century's crypt of unconsciousness, where it has remained and often surfaced, in various forms both cinematic and literary, like the memory of a pleasurable nightmare, ever since.

Dracula, beneath it's delectably macabre surface, slammed a concrete wrecking ball into Victorian ideals. Namely, the chasteness of women. Men could be scoundrels (and were) but women could never (even in marriage!) exude the slightest flirtatious impropiety, or risk being deemed fornicators or "whores". Dracula sucked all the blood out of this outdated, hypocritical Victorian ideal, and showed it for what it was: a corpse of a concept. A dead concept to progressive minds like Stoker's, but still alive, unfortunately, lurking at large, like a vampire, sucking all the life out of life.

Dracula, beyond the obvious horror of reading about the unscrupulous undead who do dark deeds at night to amass more undead for their covens, was a shocking call for women (shocking at the time, late 1890s) to abandon their culture's squashing of their sexuality and be erotically liberated, free to express themselves as they please, privately or publicly, and not feel guilty or dirty about it. Of course this was a "monstrous" concept to Victorian sensibilities, and could probably have only been communicated through the voices of monsters (vampires); otherwise, Stoker would have been made a pariah for what amounted to his "feminist preaching". Only a vampire could effectively, um, bite through that thick, repressive Victorian facade, so dehumanizing to women. And what better way to depict a societies devaluation and dehumanization of its so-called lesser sex - and to skewer those maddening mindsets - than with the very personification of all that is evil and dehumanized in the world, than with vampires?

Stoker was a genius. And yes, Dracula covers a lot more subtextual territory than just women's sexual liberation. However, since Twilight, the latest and most popular-ever vampire-series offshoot, is often about women (teenage girls) allowing themselves to be the victims of men (and liking it!); I thought, how ironic is it that the very vampires Stoker imbued, subtextually, as symbolic liberators - veritable "vampire-advocates" - for the advancement of women's equality everywhere, would ultimately become weak vampire-caricatures, true monsters concerned more with keeping women down, helpless, and emotionally (if not always physically) incarcerated. Dumb, really dumb, Victorian ideas, Miss Myers. Way to drive that stake through Stoker's heart, Steph!
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LibraryThing member veilofisis
Dracula is the stuff of myth. That this one saturnine, irresistibly purple novel has had such a remarkable impact on the fabric of our literature—and our popular culture—is fascinating when we consider its humble origins as just another piece of sensationalized Gothic melodrama destined to thrill the appetites of a fin de siècle public largely desensitized to the notion of terror fiction. Consider its rival for best-seller status in its time: Richard Marsh’s equally splendid The Beetle. How many of us have encountered, or even heard of, that wonderful novel outside of the cognoscenti of the Gothic movement? And yet Dracula is a novel many of us have never even read, and yet remain entirely familiar with; like Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula has become so paramount to our culture’s perception of the ‘Gothic’ that approaching it without any bias, completely objectively, is nearly impossible. And what is there to say about this novel, really, that hasn’t been said a thousand—hell, a million—times before? It is, after all, exactly what we’d anticipate it as being: suspenseful, erotic, full of the kind of tenebrous gloom that has, for a long time, remained deeply ingrained in our understanding of what is (and is not) Gothic; it is not a masterpiece, in that it is an exceedingly flawed piece of fiction, but its status as the germ of an entire movement within our literature—the vampire mythos—is impossible to ignore, and given its near-epic trajectory, to call it a failure, despite its many flaws, would be a kind of blasphemy.

Bram Stoker is not a good writer. Dracula, his opus, suffers from a deep decay in its construction that becomes more glaring as the novel reaches its dubious ‘climax’ (which is one of the more anticlimactic finales in all of the genre); Stoker’s other fictions run the gamut from the decent (The Jewel of Seven Stars) to the plodding (his short fiction) to the absolutely dreadful (epitomized by the gruelingly awful Lair of the White Worm). Dracula, on its own merit, is enough to secure him his lasting fame, however—and one has to admire his brazenness: Dracula was, like many of the now ‘classic’ fictions of the fin de siècle, a bit of a scandal from the very beginning. It plays off of the glossy, eroticized fears of a Europe that was beginning to drown in the notions of decadence that, at first charmingly invective and iconoclastic, had become, in no small way, prophetic: the political ramifications of the ‘New Woman,’ the idea of foreign infiltration into a dying Britain, the suggestion of sexual liberation—these fears, the neurotic product and obsessions of a withering empire, had become more than just speculation: they were a reality. That Stoker was able to consider them within the context of parable—an industrialized London suddenly haunted by the most ancient terrors of European myth—was no slight stroke of genius; but, the thing is, I simply cannot believe that Stoker intended this. The subtext of Dracula seems to brood largely within the more unconscious layers of Stoker’s narrative: it is an undercurrent, a suggestion, never an outright examination.

There is no need to outline the plot: we are all entirely familiar with it. Most of the more delicious, and deliriously powerful, of Stoker’s images play out towards the beginning (which is, I think, a flaw): the initial imprisonment of Jonathan Harker at Castle Dracula, the captain’s log from the doomed Demeter, the dream-haunted dissolution of Lucy Westenra; this parade of lusty, phantasmagoric scenery is powerfully haunting and sets up what is to become, as I said, a kind of an epic. The epistolary format of Dracula lends the novel, at times, absolutely genius narrative conceit: consider, for example, the wealth of perspectives as our naïve vampire hunters close in on Castle Dracula before the ‘climax.’ If said climax were not a wooden exercise in falling flat on one’s face, the novel could, I believe, be forgiven every other flaw; aside from this failing, the epistolary format also renders some of the more ‘sentimental’ content (the love story, etc.) rather insipid—even, at the worst of times, almost comically maudlin.

To call Dracula the high-point of literary Gothicism would be taking a great liberty: other texts—Melmoth the Wanderer, The Turn of the Screw, Frankenstein—are better deserving that appellation; it cannot be argued, though, that in the popular imagination Dracula is the beginning and end of the entire movement. Its seminal place in our literature is so inarguable that it remains one of the few ‘horror’ novels universally read in the study of the Anglophonic canon. On a personal note, despite my criticism, I consider myself an avid admirer—even a devotee—of the novel. This, too, is a testament to its power: despite its haphazard construction and wealth of genuinely maddening inconsistencies, at its highest moments Dracula possesses a grace uncommon to such baroque, sensationalistic themes as vampirism, sex, and moral decay; it is only with the publication of Dracula, it must be said, that the notion of ‘glamour’ entered the world of vampirism in our literature, and this is due in no small part to Stoker’s almost uncanny knack for suffusing the repugnant with a more than potent dose of the exotic, mysterious, and darkly beautiful.

Dracula will live on, like the archetype it has constructed, in our popular imagination for a long, long time: whether it will be rediscovered or simply reappropriated by the generations which follow us is open for debate; whatever the case, though, its impact is entirely inarguable, and its place in the literature of the fin de siècle is both poignant and fitting, for it is the final breath of a century of madness, poetry, and decay.
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LibraryThing member datrappert
Where to start? First, one should certainly read Dracula a lot earlier in life than I did. Of course, much of the story seems familiar because of all the film versions over the years. And Stoker is an engaging writer, so reading this book is never a chore, despite its many flaws, namely:

1) The incessant proclmations of undying friendship between the characters who are trying to track down and destroy Dracula. This gets really tiring after about the hundredth time.
2) The willingness of the other characters to just go along blindly with what Van Helsing asks them to do in the fight to save Lucy and to withhold their questions. Asking those questions and Van Helsing answering them honestly would of course have probably saved Lucy's life and severly impacted the rest of Stoker's plot!
3) The character of Dracula, who except for a few intriguing appearances early in the novel during Jonathan Harker's stay in his castle, is pretty much off-stage for the rest of the novel. Since he is much more interesting than the characters who are on stage, this is a very bad calculation on Stoker's part, or maybe he just wasn't up to actually bringing the character to life well enough to justify the history the other characters discover about Dracula. An obvious comparison here is Hannibal Lecter--imagine any of Thomas Harris's novels--especially the early ones--if Lecter were limited to just a few meancing appearances and a bit of ranting.
4) The endless repetition and unnecessary detail. This would have been a great 250-page novel if someone had just cut out all the chaff.
5) And, really not lastly, but most importantly, has there ever been a more annoying character than Van Helsing? He lets Lucy die because for some reason he can't bring himself to tell those he has asked to help protect her that she will turn into a vampire if they fail. I would think that with that knowledge, they would have been a little more careful about keeping watch over her. And for that matter, why don't they put her on a train for Scotland or somewhere? And his incessant babble and mangling of the English language really get old, too.

There are other offenses that Stoker commits, but the amazing thing is that the basic framework of the story is strong enough to survive them all. The atmosphere is well done and the various esoteric details that fix the time and place of the story are a great asset--although my Barnes & Noble edition could have dispensed with a few of the more obvious footnotes. It is easy to see, however, why so many filmmakers and other authors have set out to improve on the original story. Still, I suspect readers will keep coming back to Stoker as long as anyone reads at all.....
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LibraryThing member leperdbunny
Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Genre: Horror
# of pages: 400
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: Bought
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: B+

Description of the book: This is the classic gothic horror tale that set the stage for all vampire horror. Johnathan Harker travels to Transylvania to service a client named Dracula. The story unfolds of the legend of Dracula and his travels to England among the living. This classic tale also includes an introduction the character of Van Helsing.
Review: I really enjoyed the beginning of the tale when Harker is imprisoned in Castle Dracula- the atmosphere was perfect and Stoker's depiction of Harker's feelings in this part of the novel were perfect. I even enjoyed the middle of the story where Miss Lucy was turned into a vampire. I found that particularly interesting as it really explained the Modus Operandi of the "classic vampire". There were a few themes running through the novel such as religion and more specifically Christian salvation. I enjoyed these the least. The pages and pages of their fate "being in gods hands" was a bit much. As a result, the last 200 pages dragged. I found a compilation of Stoker's other works for 6.99 (in hardback) at Barnes and Noble and plan to read it at some point. I had a discussion about the book with my boyfriend and he reminded me that in League of Extraodinary Gentlemen included Mina Harker and she was a vampire, but the book ended with her having a child with Johnathan after they kill Dracula, so not sure what that is about? I guess I'll have to check it out and see if there is an alternative explanation/story line. Also- I see there are a few books out now taking liberties with the original story to create a love story between Mina and Dracula, after reading the original story it surprises me that they would do that. Mina's feelings about Dracula were quite clear! The epistolary style was a bit much at times just because it was so detailed at parts- particularly with conversations. Who really is able to remember that much? I liked the Victorian/Freudian characterization of Renfield. He was probably my favorite part in the entire book. I probably shouldn't have, but I giggled a lot in those parts of the book. :) Overall a very good read! I found the portrayal of Dracula in pop culture more true to this novel than of Frankenstein.
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LibraryThing member jayne_charles
I expected to dislike this, but it's really not bad. Quite creepy in places, though you have to allow the author a bit of licence, particularly when it comes to repeated blood transfusions without any apparent regard for blood group. In the real world they'd all be dead, vampires or not. Some odd humorous moments too (SPOILER?), my favourite line being 'I say old bean, what say we cut off your girlfriend's head?' (or words to that effect)… (more)
LibraryThing member cmbohn
Themes: love, death, blood, sex, evil, gender roles, mental illness
Setting: Transylvania - duh!, and England, late 19th century

Is there anyone who doesn't know something about the story of Dracula? I think it would be almost impossible to come into this book, knowing NOTHING about it, but I am sure there are lots of others who haven't ever actually read the book. (Or seen the real movie, either, for that matter.) But I decided it was time to read this one and see what it's all about.

It was harder to read at first than I thought. We start off with young solicitor Jonathan Harker, on his way to stay at Dracula's Castle. WHAT! What are you thinking! Don't go there! Then I had to remind myself - he's not being an idiot. He's never heard of the count. Nobody has. This is where it all begins. It came up again later, when I was exasperated at how slow these people are to recognize what was going on. Don't they know a vampire when they see one? Well, no. They don't. This was one of the very first vampire stories, and much of the myth begins right here.

Other than that, it was really very easy to read. It was exciting and well written. The story is told in first person, in journal form and a few letters, which makes it easy to know what the participants are thinking and feeling. It makes it even spookier to here Dr. Seward describe what he saw when they broke into the Harker's bedroom to find - well, I won't give it away, but it was VERY creepy.

It wasn't perfect. There was a long, somewhat slow section when Lucy Westenra is being pursued by this PRESENCE, that comes in through her window at night. I couldn't believe how long that took. That was when I reminded myself that no one was supposed to know about vampires, so they could hardly be expected to figure it out. But it still took too long. Lucy would be attacked, she would almost die, they would save her, they would relax their guard, and then she'd be attacked again. Hurry it up, already! But once that came to it's dramatic conclusion, the story picked up pace again and didn't slow down after that.

I really am not a vampire fan. I am absolutely in the 'vampires are evil' camp, Team Buffy for me. But I don't read vampire books much. Still, this is a classic, and I think that anyone who likes a good scary story would like it. I really liked my edition, which had a couple of essays in it. (As always, don't read them until you finish the book!) The one in the front covered the history of the vampire myth, and the significance of Dracula in creating many of the things we think of when we think of vampires. It also had a run down on some of the classic movies, including a version starring Christopher Lee as the count, which I would like to see, just for fun. But the essay in the back highlighted some of my basic reservations when it comes to bloodsucking fiends - the sexual perversion inherit in the story. He goes through the book's most graphic scenes and explores the sexual subtext in each scene. Very well written, and very persuasive as well.

It's not a total gorefest or anything, but I wouldn't recommend this book to my 13 year old, for example. But if you haven't read it, thinking it's too old-fashioned, or too hard to read, or too over the top, you should reconsider and give this one a chance. 5 stars.
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LibraryThing member jmchshannon
I first read Dracula in elementary school; I believe I was eight or nine years old at the time. You could say that this is the book that started it all - my love of classics, my love of suspense, and especially my love of vampires. There is something so mysterious, so sensual, and so deliciously creepy without being overtly scary or gory, that I never fail to enjoy this story.

The epistolary nature of the novel is a stroke of genius. It not only builds suspense because the reader can see the entire picture being established but it heightens the emotions of the reader through the intimate interaction with each diary author's personal thoughts. In addition, what is left unsaid, everything left to the reader's imagination creates its own sense of building horror. The result is a novel that places the reader on a roller coaster of dread and anticipation.

On this most recent of many re-reads, I was struck anew by the dynamic between the men and the women in the novel. Mina and Lucy are much stronger, both emotionally and physically, than any of the men ever consider possible. Their patronizing tone and declarations that Mina's mind is just as good as a man's is upsetting at the frequency with which both are used. The blood transfusion scenes are a great example of a poor, weak woman needing the blood of a strong, healthy male to fortify her and help her recover from any illness. I can never truly discern whether Mr. Stoker meant to confirm that a woman's place is at home, safely bundled away from danger, or if he was pointing out that a woman can indeed hold her own with a man. Evidence for both arguments abound throughout the novel, lending a somewhat contradictory air to the implied message.

Much has been said of the sensuality of Dracula, with much debate about whether it exists or whether it is imaginary. To me, I feel that it not only exists but is a huge part of the novel. The nape of the neck is extremely sensual, and Dracula (and his vampire coven) tends to go for the neck when drinking from his victims. When he starts to turn Mina, he forces her to drink from his breast. Then again, the time of the day when vampires prey on their victims is suggestive - nighttime, when women and men are scantily clad. All three combine to imply an intimacy between vampire and prey that typically is only present in the bedroom. This intimacy only heightens the shock and discomfort of the main characters, making Dracula's crimes that much more sinister and depraved.

Dracula is the quintessential vampire story. It is important to remember that it is not the first vampire story but it is certainly one of the most influential. There is a reason for this. Spooky castles, mysterious counts, a tragic loss, a love story - it has it all. Add a touch of gothic, combined with a hint of the supernatural, and you have a story that has ensnared minds throughout the decades, remaining as popular today as it was when it was first released in 1897.
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LibraryThing member eleanor_eader
I wish I could review this book in two parts. On starting, I quickly felt that wonderful tingle of delight from realising why a classic is a classic… Dracula, I decided early on, has become a classic because Bram Stoker knew how to mix a recipe of character anxiety, gruesome detailing and small waves of disturbing events into a well-written and reasonably well-paced story that gets under the reader’s skin. Jonathan Harker’s opening journal, wherein he finds himself prisoner of the terrible Count, a demonic fury behind a mask of polite civility, incites the reader to delicious chills.

[Small digression: that horror convention of human figures crawling down walls forwards is one that, in films, never fails to make me shudder. Even had it occurred to me that it would work in written horror fiction, I had no idea it hailed from as far back as Dracula!]

There was a touch of overwriting in the first half, but this seemed more than redeemed by the way that the story is layered; letters, journal and diary excerpts and articles, and so is always shifting point of view, keeping the reader absorbed and giving everything a very satisfying depth. First we watch the decline of Lucy, lamented by no less than three devoted men. Later, the predicament of Mina Harker becomes a sudden mid-book re-energiser and I was positively thrumming with excitement. Renfield, Dr. Seward’s psychiatric patient had me chuckling and aghast; everything was shaping up very nicely.

Then things began to drag. It was disappointing, realising the reader wasn’t going to properly meet the Count again, except in the guise of a big bat (which imagery, admittedly, I enjoyed). The last third of the book involves the interminable ‘chase’ in which our principal characters (who had, largely, devolved into ‘manly men, how wonderful they are’, with the exception of Van Helsing, who was so wonderfully, amusingly, reassuring that all the tension disappeared!) waited for Mina Harker (so brave! So clever! So like a man!) to tell them whether or not Dracula was being moved from the ship. Three pages from the end, they had their little adventure, wrapped everything up, and went home. Mr. Stoker, were you still alive, I’d point out that this isn’t how one paces a novel. Actually, were you still alive, I’d drive a stake through your chest and cut off your head, but not before asking why it was necessary to include so many diarists’ variations on ‘we waited, it was horrible’.

It says a lot about the first two thirds of the story that I’m not sorry that I read it. It really balances out at ‘enjoyable and interesting’, with some good scary bits, sympathetic characters – despite the later lack of attention to their individuality – and a fund of supernatural imagery… I just don’t think the tension could survive the lack of momentum.
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LibraryThing member AdonisGuilfoyle
Dracula is the archetype, if not the original, of the entire vampire sub-genre, inspiring films and a gamut of derivative fiction, good and bad. Stoker's novel also contains the 'rules' of the vampire legend, from coffins and bats to garlic and stakes. Recent literary descendants might thumb their noses at some of the more gothic traditions - I think the aristocrat in a cape and three-piece suit has had his night - but the mythology of the undead has changed little in over a century.

Judging by the stats for this novel, I am probably one of the last people to finally get around to reading Dracula, but I seem to be on a sort of vampire bender at the moment, and hey - it was free on Kindle! Unfortunately, my tardy indulgence has been somewhat spoiled by the memory of Mel Brooks' spoof film Dracula: Dead and Loving It!, and I was amused to read that bug-eating Renfield is actually a character in the original story!

Dracula is also very Victorian, in style and sensibility, which adds to the unintentional humour. The pompous patriotism, unabashed snobbery and patriarchal blather behind every one of Stoker's characters almost cries out for literary criticism - Lord Godalming bribes and blusters to get his own way, and Mina Harker is a gift to feminist critics Gilbert and Gubar. Mina, the prim schoolmistress who marries Jonathan Harker, the first pawn in Dracula's game, is the Victorian 'ideal woman', guided by man, whereas her attractive friend Lucy Westenra is demonised as a sexual temptress ('the whole carnal and unspirited appearance seeming like a devilish mockery of Lucy's sweet purity'!) Guess who lives to tell the tale? Blatant symbolism aside, Mina is actually quite a strong and intelligent woman for her time, organising her dithering husband and offering her own life to save others, and I would love to read more about her. The men, on the other hand, range from the ridiculous to the pointless - Van Helsing is a patronising old goat who speaks like he has been fed through a Babelfish translator and spat out the other side, and then there is Lucy's rogue's gallery, Lord Godalming, Doctor Seward the asylum keeper, who records his journal on a phonograph, and random American Quincey Morris, whose purpose eludes me. I know that Van Helsing has a massive appreciation society going amongst vampire afficianados, but he is never really established as anything more than a literary device, and the irritating 'accent' that Stoker gives him is tiring to read.

Count Dracula is the best character of the book, of course, and I loved the first few chapters with naive traveller Harker staying at the vampire's Transylvanian castle. The setting and atmosphere are crawling with tension, from the superstitious townsfolk to Harker's slow discovery of his host's dark secret. The letters and diaries of Mina and Lucy in Whitby are also well crafted, but when the body count increased, my interest started to flag - I can never keep a straight face when reading Victorian melodramas! The epistolary form of the novel - diaries, whether on paper or wax tubes, letters, telegrams, ship's logs - is tediously detailed and linear, and I must admit to skimming through the final few chapters ('Nothing happened' is not a helpful statement at the climax of a novel).

So - yes, I'm glad I finally read Dracula, but thankful that I didn't pay anything for the privilege. The Count and Mina Harker are fascinating and enduring characters, but there is a lot of Victorian silliness to wade through on their behalf.
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LibraryThing member amandacb
A hundred thousand times better and scarier than [Twilight]. A truly gothic novel that always has me wanting to sleep with my light on (and I do not get scared easily). I give it a read every couple years or so and am never disappointed. By the way, this odd cover with the "vampire" with blood running down his chin is ... kind of stupid.… (more)
LibraryThing member jcbrunner
During my visit to Transylvania, I finally read the classic that haunts Romanian tourism to this day. Apart from supplying the bad guy and some of the lore, it isn't really about Transylvania. Most of the action happens in 19th century England. London, to be precise.

Contrary to my expectations, modern technology plays a giant role in the novel. The protagonists travel by ship, train and coach at breakneck speed. Even a century later, Jonathan Harker's train journey from Munich to Budapest takes up the same amount of time. Abraham Van Helsing's overnight city hopping between London and Amsterdam would shame any modern consultant. The full range of note-taking techniques on display from short-hand, typewriters to phonographs highlights the intrusion of an ancient evil into modern society which is battled with the latest advances of science and the scientific method (apart from just missing Karl Landsteiner's discovery of blood types which turns a plot element into a life-threatening endeavor). Reasoning and the power of deduction is the magic weapon.

Compared to the modern concept of vampires (and their current fangbanger travesty), Count Dracula and his powers are not yet fixed. He is both too powerful and too weak in the original conception. The major flaw of the novel is Dracula's motivation. What does he try to achieve in London? His sophisticated plans are not matched by his actions. Could he have chosen a worse target for his fangs?

I really like epistolary novels and the multi-perspective they allow. The reader is always several steps ahead of the stumbling, sense-building narrators which creates a thrilling suspense. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member theokester
I'd never read Dracula before so it made a fun Halloween treat. I tried to read it "fresh"…to shun what I "knew" from all the media and pop-culture references that are nearly impossible to avoid.

While it was difficult (impossible?) to fully forget all the things that culture has thrust on me, I did try to envision what this book would have been like if I'd read it 100+ years ago when it was originally published. While it shares many elements of the graphic novels and general horror writing of the time, it is certainly more "terrifying" than much of the other horror writing I've read from that era (which isn't saying a whole lot since I haven't read a ton). For the era, this novel seemed to me startlingly graphic in terms of describing the horrors encountered by the main characters. Compared to the gothic novels I've read, this is definitely more creepy. It reminded me a lot of the eerie, creepy horror of some of Poe's works.

The writing style was a little different than I imagined. It's set up as an epistolary novel with the narrative coming from multiple points of view as written after the fact in diaries, letters and even some newspaper clippings and commercial documents (ships logs, etc). Thus, we are somewhat distanced from the action of the story, but we also get it from a variety of perspectives and with multiple different voices. Some of the voices were very similar to one another and hard to distinguish. The most distinguishable was Van Helsing who was actually written with a very strong dialect that sometimes annoyed me.

I definitely applaud the attention to detail in this book. The descriptions of Dracula's castle and (later) the various homes/parks/streets in England were very vivid and easy to picture. Even more engaging were the details brought to life through the emotional turmoil of the characters. Reading the diary of Jonathan Harker, I could completely envision his growing terror throughout his stay at the castle. I also really liked the detail and interaction in the letters between Mina and Lucy.

There were a number of times where I wanted the story to "hurry up" but when I sat back and read the novel without the cultural baggage of a world that's grown up with the vampire/Dracula mythos, I felt myself very content to move along at a slower pace. Not only did I find myself enjoying the methodical unraveling of the mystery and the descriptions of the Undead, but I also found that the slower pacing created a greater sense of anxiety and apprehension.

I only had a couple of minor complaints that stayed with me after finishing the book.

First and foremost, I wanted much more interaction with Dracula. There was a ton of build up and a lot of "off stage" action implying what Dracula had done and what he was doing. We saw him with some regularity early on but in those instances he was still more of an enigma than a source of horror. There were only a very few scenes in which we actually came face-to-face with him as evil antagonist. Furthermore, each of these confrontations was usually over very quickly. Even the final confrontation was concluded quickly. I appreciate that the novel's form makes it impossible for us to see things from his point of view or actually observe his actions off-stage (unless perhaps he had left his own journal), but I would have appreciated more encounters or perhaps lengthier encounters. Instead, most of what we learn about his power and abilities come in short snippets followed by explanations from Van Helsing.

My second complaint had to do with Dr. Seward and Renfield. We have Deward's diary which provides information as to Renfield's strange behavior and his unusual outbursts. While I will grant that the chronology of things makes it difficult/impossible for Seward to piece together what's going on, it seems that there were a number of times where Seward should have sought more information but didn't (such as when Renfield escapes and runs to a certain home…even with his rantings and ravings and the strange workmen hauling boxes of dirt, Seward doesn't bother to investigate the owner of the home…I would think that it might be worthwhile to see if there was a particular reason why an escaped lunatic ran to a very particular home after escaping). In spit of Seward's education and experience, it seems that he let a number of threads fall away. Perhaps this is part of the nature of working in a sanitarium in the 1800s.

All in all, I really enjoyed finally reading this book. With it's huge influence on modern culture, I definitely recommend checking it out and getting to know this original and exciting work. Be prepared for a bit slower pace but if you put yourself in the mind of a reader in the early 1900s and try to distance yourself from the cultural baggage, I think you'll be in for a very creepy ride.

*****
5 out of 5 stars
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LibraryThing member ghr4
Bram Stoker's "Dracula" is a gripping and truly scary horror classic. A sense of impending doom and encroaching terror pervades the novel. It's a wonderful page-turner most of the way, but the final third bogs down. Written in 1897, the book often seems surprisingly modern, yet there are also sections (primarily that final third) that are stilted and decidedly in the overwrought and verbose Victorian style.… (more)
LibraryThing member bcrowl399
I know this is a classic and I appreciate the writing style but I had some struggles getting through it. The speech patterns combined with a foreign language syntax forced me to read several passages more than once to get the events clear. That said, the suspense was enormous and built slowly and wonderfully. The atmosphere of the time period was described thoroughly so the reader understood the context. I see why this is a classic novel of suspense and I'm glad I persevered.… (more)
LibraryThing member BookConcierge
Audiobook narrated by Alexander Spender and Susan Adams

Does anyone really need a synopsis? If you’ve seen any of the movies, you know the basic plot, but the original novel is so much more!

Stoker wrote the work as a series of journal or diary entries, letters and newspaper clippings. This could easily become disjointed, but in this case, it serves to give a certain immediacy to the writing. It also builds suspense, as we leave one character to jump to another’s perspective, frequently with a disconnect in terms of what each of the characters knows about the full situation. The danger they are in is frequently a result of not having the full picture, of not truly understanding the force against which they are pitted.

But the novel is more than just a horror story. There are several themes which would be great for book group discussion.

To begin there is the typical Victorian theme of strong men coming to the rescue of pure damsel in distress. However, Stoker turns the tables a bit when he gives Mina the intelligence, foresight and courage to fight the evil forces in her own way. Yes, the men do the actual fighting, but it is Mina who first puts together all the individual notes into a coherent chronological story, and ultimately gives the men what they need to go up against Dracula. The woman has steel!

Stoker also includes a fair amount of sexual – or at least sensual – tension. Bosoms heave, blood quickens, breathing is rapid, and people are completely overcome and overwhelmed by desire. They are simply helpless in the face of their base instincts … or are they?

The novel is wonderfully atmospheric; from the delights of a new culture as Harker first experiences the loveliness of Eastern Europe, to the growing sense of doom when surrounded by howling wolves, to the creepy, skin-crawling scene with the hordes of rats (I feel squeamish as I type this), and finally to the “pure-white” snow of the mountain blizzard, time and again Stoker puts the reader smack dab in the middle of the scenes.

There are several different audio versions. The one I had from my library was masterfully performed by Alexander Spander and Susan Adams. Each voiced the journals / diaries based on the gender of the character writing that segment.
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LibraryThing member John_Warner
Few today have never heard about the Dracula legend as first introduced by Bram Stoker. Although not the first novel about vampires, this novel is the most famous as evidenced by its impact on the American culture. This epistolary novel, told through letters, journals and recordings, is the story about a member of Transylvanian royalty who seeks a new hunting ground in London only to be hunted by a small group of men led by the physician Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. I found the first half of the novel much more suspenseful; the last half less so and more plodding.… (more)

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