Monday, April 15, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker

Arriving at Castle Dracula, the vast ruined home of a Transylvanian nobleman, a young English visitor finds himself thrust into a realm of sensation and horror beyond his most nightmarish dreams. His experiences give rise to an urgent campaign to destroy the vampire count, to eliminate Dracula's cult of the living dead, and to triumph over a centuries-old evil.

Archibald Constable and Company (UK)


Rosy's scrawlings on Dracula
Anyone who knows me even a tiny bit knew that this was coming. Dracula holds a special place in my little heart of hearts. Now, there's much to be said about this piece as classic literature and a must read otherwise you don't understand the true meaning of vampire in our culture, and more guff and bluster. But that's like looking at the story from the high reputation down and can make would be readers a little daunted, expecting something much harder to read and comprehend than Dracula actually is. So, I'll write my take on it, given that this was one of my childhood favourites. My opinion is a little different.
A quick history of me and this book. When I was really young, just past reading my first full length book, I came into possession - through Santa, of course - of a copy of Dracula in book form (which happened to be a classic literature version) and an audio tape version. I can't remember which appeared first but I can remember reading and listening to Dracula for hours and hours. I'd listen to the tapes over and over, loving the bit where he changes into a wolf and comes ashore as there were bells and horns wringing. I also delighted in Renfield's madness as he ate bugs and raved about his master and the chiming of the carriage bells as Harker is taken up to the castle. It was a world unto itself and it was mine.
To me, Dracula, the vampire himself, is one of the best baddies of all time. He reigns supreme for power and greed and need but almost because of this he's a fragile creature. Mina was an annoying sop of a girl but I figured she did need a little saving. Jonathan Harker, the supposed hero, was an insufferable jealous prat and a destroyer of all things fun. He was far too self-righteous for my liking when I first discovered Dracula and he's pretty much remained so since. Lucy I rather liked as while she started out much like her friend Mina she becomes a vampire and then the games begin.
There is a thread of hysteria that runs through all the human characters that delighted me, and still does, as they all determine right from the outset that Dracula is evil incarnate, impossible to understand and must be killed. The blinkered view of his personality, being really, intrigued me as I could see that while he was indeed fearsome and quiet a bit freakish and unforgiving of humanity he wasn't actually all that different from everyone else, sans the hysteria. He had ambitions, cared for those of his own sort, desired companionship and loved messing with people. Just because he was different didn't mean he deserved killing. At least when he killed his victims had a chance of popping back up again, 'alive' and well. Also, more powerful. Pity the Renfield's though.
There is much magic and devilry in Dracula, the bad guy's not always being who the characters say they are and the power of the supernatural overwhelming in its mystique. The story is a little old-school in style, but it isn't at all impossible to read at an early age. The skipping between viewpoints, no matter how formal and hysterical they are, is rather intriguing to read as the alternative views on the same events reveal just how different vampires, Dracula in particular, are from what they're understood to be. That it takes divine objects to defeat him just annoyed as Dracula wasn't in line with the Devil, as far as I was concerned.
But this is mostly how I read Dracula as a child, an impression that lasts. Since then I've had to disassemble it, sadly so, for essays and whatnot and doing so makes some of the glamour disappear. So here is what I recommend. Never read it because you have to (unless you left it too late and must for those course marks) and never think that only one interpretation is right. Back who you like and enjoy the dark splendor of the tale. Reread and revise your thoughts on it too, as there's a lot of play in the writing so you can play in the reading. Above all, if you can, read it when you're young or give it to someone who is young and starting out as a reader. Anyone with a morbid and curious imagination - pretty much any child, if I do say so myself - will love Dracula. Any format will do, as long as it is the original version first.

I'd recommend this book to: everyone, from children to adults, and in particular those who have a love of horror stories.

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