“Unclean, unclean!” Mina Harker screams, gathering her bloodied nightgown around her. In Chapter 21 of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” Mina’s friend John Seward, a psychiatrist in Purfleet, near London, tells how he and a colleague, warned that Mina might be in danger, broke into her bedroom one night and found her kneeling on the edge of her bed. Bending over her was a tall figure, dressed in black. “His right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white nightdress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man’s bare breast which was shown by his torn-open dress. The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink.” Mina’s husband, Jonathan, hypnotized by the intruder, lay on the bed, unconscious, a few inches from the scene of his wife’s violation.
Later, between sobs, Mina relates what happened. She was in bed with Jonathan when a strange mist crept into the room. Soon, it congealed into the figure of a man—Count Dracula. “With a mocking smile, he placed one hand upon my shoulder and, holding me tight, bared my throat with the other, saying as he did so: ‘First, a little refreshment to reward my exertions . . .’ And oh, my God, my God, pity me! He placed his reeking lips upon my throat!” The Count took a long drink. Then he drew back, and spoke sweet words to Mina. “Flesh of my flesh,” he called her, “my bountiful wine-press.” But now he wanted something else. He wanted her in his power from then on. A person who has had his—or, more often, her—blood repeatedly sucked by a vampire turns into a vampire, too, but the conversion can be accomplished more quickly if the victim also sucks the vampire’s blood. And so, Mina says, “he pulled open his shirt, and with his long sharp nails opened a vein in his breast. When the blood began to spurt out, he . . . seized my neck and pressed my mouth to the wound, so that I must either suffocate or swallow some of the—Oh, my God!” The unspeakable happened—she sucked his blood, at his breast—at which point her friends stormed into the room. Dracula vanished, and, Seward relates, Mina uttered “a scream so wild, so ear-piercing, so despairing . . . that it will ring in my ears to my dying day.”
That scene, and Stoker’s whole novel, is still ringing in our ears. Stoker did not invent vampires. If we define them, broadly, as the undead—spirits who rise, embodied, from their graves to torment the living—they have been part of human imagining since ancient times. Eventually, vampire superstition became concentrated in Eastern Europe. (It survives there today. In 2007, a Serbian named Miroslav Milosevic—no relation—drove a stake into the grave of Slobodan Milosevic.) It was presumably in Eastern Europe that people worked out what became the standard methods for eliminating a vampire: you drive a wooden stake through his heart, or cut off his head, or burn him—or, to be on the safe side, all three. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, there were outbreaks of vampire hysteria in Western Europe; numerous stakings were reported in Germany. By 1734, the word “vampire” had entered the English language.
In those days, vampires were grotesque creatures. Often, they were pictured as bloated and purple-faced (from drinking blood); they had long talons and smelled terrible—a description probably based on the appearance of corpses whose tombs had been opened by worried villagers. These early undead did not necessarily draw blood. Often, they just did regular mischief—stole firewood, scared horses. (Sometimes, they helped with the housework.) Their origins, too, were often quaint. Matthew Beresford, in his recent book “From Demons to Dracula: The Creation of the Modern Vampire Myth” (University of Chicago; $24.95), records a Serbian Gypsy belief that pumpkins, if kept for more than ten days, may cross over: “The gathered pumpkins stir all by themselves and make a sound like ‘brrl, brrl, brrl!’ and begin to shake themselves.” Then they become vampires. This was not yet the suave, opera-cloaked fellow of our modern mythology. That figure emerged in the early nineteenth century, a child of the Romantic movement.
In the summer of 1816, Lord Byron, fleeing marital difficulties, was holed up in a villa on Lake Geneva. With him was his personal physician, John Polidori, and nearby, in another house, his friend Percy Bysshe Shelley; Shelley’s mistress, Mary Godwin; and Mary’s stepsister Claire Clairmont, who was angling for Byron’s attention (with reason: she was pregnant by him). The weather that summer was cold and rainy. The friends spent hours in Byron’s drawing room, talking. One night, they read one another ghost stories, which were very popular at the time, and Byron suggested that they all write ghost stories of their own. Shelley and Clairmont produced nothing. Byron began a story and then laid it aside. But the remaining members of the summer party went to their desks and created the two most enduring figures of the modern horror genre. Mary Godwin, eighteen years old, began her novel “Frankenstein” (1818), and John Polidori, apparently following a sketch that Byron had written for his abandoned story, wrote “The Vampyre: A Tale” (1819). In Polidori’s narrative, the undead villain is a proud, handsome aristocrat, fatal to women. (Some say that Polidori based the character on Byron.) He’s interested only in virgins; he sucks their necks; they die; he lives. The modern vampire was born.
The public adored him. In England and France, Polidori’s tale spawned popular plays, operas, and operettas. Vampire novels appeared, the most widely read being James Malcolm Rymer’s “Varney the Vampire,” serialized between 1845 and 1847. “Varney” was a penny dreadful, and faithful to the genre. (“Shriek followed shriek. . . . Her beautifully rounded limbs quivered with the agony of her soul. . . . He drags her head to the bed’s edge.”) After “Varney” came “Carmilla” (1872), by Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu, an Irish ghost-story writer. “Carmilla” was the mother of vampire bodice rippers. It also gave birth to the lesbian vampire story—in time, a plentiful subgenre. “Her hot lips traveled along my cheek in kisses,” the female narrator writes, “and she would whisper, almost in sobs, ‘You are mine, you shall be mine.’ ” “Varney” and “Carmilla” were low-end hits, but vampires penetrated high literature as well. Baudelaire wrote a poem, and Théophile Gautier a prose poem, on the subject.
Then came Bram (Abraham) Stoker. Stoker was a civil servant who fell in love with theatre in his native Dublin. In 1878, he moved to London to become the business manager of the Lyceum Theatre, owned by his idol, the actor Henry Irving. On the side, Stoker wrote thrillers, one about a curse-wielding mummy, one about a giant homicidal worm, and so on. Several of these books are in print, but they probably wouldn’t be if it were not for the fame—and the afterlife—of Stoker’s fourth novel, “Dracula” (1897). The first English Dracula play, by Hamilton Deane, opened in 1924 and was a sensation. The American production (1927), with a script revised by John L. Balderston and with Bela Lugosi in the title role, was even more popular. Ladies were carried, fainting, from the theatre. Meanwhile, the films had begun appearing: notably, F. W. Murnau’s silent “Nosferatu” (1922), which many critics still consider the greatest of Dracula movies, and then Tod Browning’s “Dracula” (1931), the first vampire talkie, with Lugosi navigating among the spiderwebs and intoning the famous words “I do not drink . . . wine.” (That line was not in the book. It was written for Browning’s movie.) Lugosi stamped the image of Dracula forever, and it stamped him. Thereafter, this ambitious Hungarian actor had a hard time getting non-monstrous roles. He spent many years as a drug addict. He was buried in his Dracula cloak.
From that point to the present, there have been more than a hundred and fifty Dracula movies. Roman Polanski, Andy Warhol, Werner Herzog, and Francis Ford Coppola all made films about the Count. There are subgenres of Dracula movies: comedy, pornography, blaxploitation, anime. There is also a “Deafula,” for the hearing-impaired: the characters conduct their business in American Sign Language while the lines are spoken in voice-over. After film, television, of course, took on vampires. “Dark Shadows,” in the nineteen-sixties, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” in the nineties, were both big hits. Meanwhile, the undead have had a long life in fiction. Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Chronicles” and Stephen King’s “ ’Salem’s Lot” are the best-known recent examples, but one source estimates that the undead have been featured in a thousand novels.
Today, enthusiasm for vampires seems to be at a new peak. Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” novels, for young adults (that is, teen-age girls), have sold forty-two million copies worldwide since 2005. The first of the film adaptations, released late last year, made a hundred and seventy-seven million dollars in its initial seven weeks. Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels (“Dead Until Dark,” plus seven more), about a Louisiana barmaid’s passion for a handsome revenant named Bill, were bought by six million people, and generated the HBO series “True Blood,” which had its début last year and will be back in June. Also from last year was the haunting Swedish movie “Let the Right One In,” in which a twelve-year-old boy, Oskar, falls in love with a mysterious girl, Eli, who has moved in next door. She, too, is twelve, she tells Oskar, but she has been twelve for a long time. A new Dracula novel, co-authored by the fragrantly named Dacre Stoker (a great-grandnephew of Bram), will be published in October by Dutton. The movie rights have already been sold.
The past half century has also seen a rise in vampire scholarship. In the nineteen-fifties, Freudian critics, addressing Stoker’s novel, did what Freudians did at that time. Today’s scholars, intent instead on politics—race, class, and gender—have feasted at the table. Representative essays, reprinted in a recent edition of “Dracula,” include Christopher Craft’s “ ‘Kiss Me with Those Red Lips’: Gender and Inversion in Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ ” and Stephen D. Arata’s “The Occidental Tourist: ‘Dracula’ and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization.”
Other writers have produced fantastically detailed annotated editions of Stoker’s “Dracula.” The first of these, “The Annotated Dracula” (1975), by Leonard Wolf, a Transylvanian-born horror scholar, dealt, for example, with the scene of Dracula’s assault on Mina by giving us the Biblical sources of “unclean, unclean” and “flesh of my flesh”; by cross-referencing “my bountiful wine-press” to an earlier passage, about Transylvanian viniculture; by noting, apropos of Dracula’s opening a vein in his chest, that this recalls an old myth about the pelican feeding its young with blood from its bosom; by telling us that the vein Dracula slashed must have been the superficial intercostal; by exclaiming over the sexual ambiguity of the scene (“Just what is going on here? A vengeful cuckoldry? A ménage à trois? Mutual oral sexuality?”), and so on. None of this information is needed by the first- or second-time reader of “Dracula.” Indeed, it would be a positive hindrance, draining away the suspense that Stoker worked so hard to build.
The fullness of Wolf’s commentary did not discourage others. In 1979, a second annotated edition came out, and in 1998 a third. Last October, a fourth—“The New Annotated Dracula,” by Leslie Klinger, a Los Angeles tax and estate lawyer who has a sideline editing Victorian literature—was published by Norton ($39.95). What could Klinger have found to elucidate that his predecessors didn’t? Plenty. In the scene of Mina’s encounter with Dracula, for example, he honorably cites the earlier editions, and then he goes on to alert us to a punctuation error; to conjecture, revoltingly, about the source of the mist in which Dracula enters Mina’s bedroom (“Perhaps this was not a vapor but rather a milky substance expressed from Dracula’s body”); to speculate that Jonathan Harker’s excitement, upon awakening from his swoon, may be a form of sexual arousal; and to question the medical accuracy of Stoker’s claim that Harker’s hair turns white as he listens to Mina’s story: “In fact, whitening is caused by a progressive decline in the absolute number of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells in the skin, hair, and eye), which normally decrease over time.” Even that old sentimental convention does not get past him.
What is all this about? Why do publishers think that readers will care? One could say that “Dracula,” like certain other works—“Alice in Wonderland,” the Sherlock Holmes stories (both, like Klinger’s “Dracula,” published in Norton’s Annotated Editions series; Klinger was the editor of the Holmes)—is a cult favorite. But why does the book have a cult? Well, cults often gather around powerful works of the second rank. Fans feel that they have to root for them. What, then, is the source of “Dracula” ’s power? A simple device, used in many notable works of art: the deployment of great and volatile forces within a very tight structure.
The narrative method of “Dracula” is to assemble a collage of purportedly authentic documents, most of them in the first person. Many of the materials are identified as excerpts from the diaries of the main characters. In addition, there are letters to and from these people—but also from lawyers, carting companies, and Hungarian nuns—plus telegrams, “newspaper” clippings, and a ship’s log. This multiplicity of voices gives the book a wonderful liveliness. A long horror story could easily become suffocating. (That is one of the reasons that Poe’s tales are tales, not novels.) “Dracula,” in a regular, unannotated edition, runs about four hundred pages, but it is seldom tedious. It opens with four chapters from the diary of Jonathan Harker describing his visit, on legal business—he is a solicitor—to the castle of a certain Count Dracula, in Transylvania, and ending with Harker howling in horror over what he found there. Then we turn the page, and suddenly we are in England, reading a letter from Mina—at that point, Harker’s fiancée—bubbling to her friend Lucy Westenra about how she’s learning shorthand so that she can be useful to Jonathan in his work. This is a salutary jolt, and also witty. (Little does Mina know how Jonathan’s work is going at that juncture.) The alternation of voices also lends texture. It’s as if we were turning an interesting object around in our hands, looking at it from this angle, then that. And since the story is reported by so many different witnesses, we are more likely to believe it.
In addition, we are given the pleasure of assembling the pieces of a puzzle. No one narrator knows all that the others have told us, and this allows us to read between the lines. One evening, as Mina is returning to a house she is sharing with Lucy in Whitby, a seaside resort in Yorkshire, she sees her friend at the window, and by her side, on the sill, “something that looked like a good-sized bird.” How strange! Mina thinks. It’s not strange to us. By then we know that the “bird” is a bat—one of the Count’s preferred incarnations. (Dracula will destroy Lucy before turning to Mina.) Such counterpoint, of course, increases the suspense. When are these people going to figure out what is going on? Finally, most of the narration is not just first person but on-the-moment, and therefore unglazed by memory. “We are to be married in an hour,” Mina writes to Lucy as she sits by Jonathan’s bed in a Budapest hospital. (That’s where he landed, with a brain fever, after escaping from Castle Dracula.) He’s sleeping now, Mina says. She’ll write while she can. Oops! “Jonathan is waking!” She must break off. This minute-by-minute recording, as Samuel Richardson, its pioneer (in “Pamela”), discovered a century and a half earlier, lends urgency—you are there!—and, again, it seems a warrant of truth.
But the narrative method is not the only thing that provides a tight receptacle for the story. Most of this tale of the irrational is filtered through minds wedded to rationalism. “Dracula” has what Noël Carroll, in “The Philosophy of Horror” (1990), called a “complex discovery plot”—that is, a plot that involves not just the discovery of an evil force let loose in the world but the job of convincing skeptics (which takes a lot of time, allowing the monster to compound his crimes) that such a thing is happening. No people, we are told, were more confident than the citizens of Victorian England. The sun never set on their empire. They were also masters of science and technology. “Dracula” is full of exciting modern machinery—the telegraph, the typewriter, the “Kodak”—and the novel has an obsession with railway trains, probably the nineteenth century’s most crucial invention. The new world held no terrors for these people. Nevertheless, they were bewildered by it, because of its challenge to religious faith, and to the emotions religion had taught: sweetness, comfort, reverence, resignation.
That crisis is recorded in work after work of late-nineteenth-century fiction, but never more forcibly than in “Dracula.” In the opening pages of the novel, Harker, on his way to Castle Dracula, has arrived in Romania. He complains of the lateness of the trains. He describes a strange dish, paprika hendl, that he was given for dinner in a restaurant. But he is English; he can handle these things. He does not yet know that the man he is going to visit has little concern for timetables—the Count has lived for hundreds of years—and dines on something more peculiar than paprika hendl. Even when the evidence is in front of Harker’s face, he cannot credit it. The coachman driving him to Castle Dracula (it is the Count, in disguise) is of a curious appearance. He has pointed teeth and flaming red eyes. This makes Harker, in his words, feel “a little strangely.” Days pass, however, before he forms a stronger opinion. The other characters are equally slow to get the point. When Professor Abraham Van Helsing, the venerable Dutch physician who becomes the head of the vampire-hunting posse, suggests to his colleague John Seward that there may be a vampire operating in their midst, Seward thinks Van Helsing must be going mad. “Surely,” he protests, “there must be some rational explanation of all these mysterious things.” Van Helsing counters that not every phenomenon has a rational explanation: “Do you not think that there are things in the world which you cannot understand, and yet which are?” Throughout the novel, these self-assured people have to be convinced, with enormous difficulty, that there is something beyond their ken.
According to Nina Auerbach, in “Our Vampires, Ourselves” (1995), Dracula’s crimes are merely symbols of the real-life sociopolitical horrors facing the late Victorians. One was immigration. At the end of the century, Eastern European Jews, in flight from the pogroms, were pouring into Western Europe, thereby threatening to dilute the pure blood of the English, among others. Dracula, too, is an émigré from the East. Stoker spends a lot of words on the subject of blood, and not just when Dracula extracts it. Fully four of the book’s five vampire-hunters have their blood transfused into Lucy’s veins, and this process is recorded with grisly exactitude. (We see the incisions, the hypodermics.) So Stoker may in fact have been thinking of the racial threat. Like other novels of the period, “Dracula” contains invidious remarks about Jews. They have big noses, they like money—the usual.
At that time, furthermore, people in England were forced, by the scandal of the Oscar Wilde trials (1895), to think about something they hadn’t worried about before: homosexuality. Many scholars have found suggestions of homoeroticism in “Dracula.” Auerbach, by contrast, finds the book annoyingly heterosexual. Earlier vampire tales, such as Polidori’s story and “Carmilla,” made room for the mutability of erotic experience. In those works, sex didn’t have to be man to woman. And it didn’t have to be outright sex—it might just be fervent friendship. As Auerbach sees it, Stoker, spooked by the Wilde case, backed off from this rich ambiguity, thereby impoverishing vampire literature. After him, she says, vampire art became reactionary. This echoes Stephen King’s statement that all horror fiction, by pitting an absolute good against an absolute evil, is “as Republican as a banker in a three-piece suit.”
According to some critics, another thing troubling Stoker was the New Woman, that turn-of-the-century avatar of the feminist. Again, there is support for this. The New Woman is referred to dismissively in the book, and the God-ordained difference between the sexes—basically, that women are weak but good, and men are strong but less good—is reiterated with maddening persistence. On the other hand, Mina, the novel’s heroine, and a woman of unquestioned virtue, looks, at times, like a feminist. She works for a living, as a schoolmistress, before her marriage, and the new technology, which should have been daunting to a female, holds no mysteries for her. She’s a whiz as a typist—a standard New Woman profession. Also, she is wise and reasonable—male virtues. Nevertheless, her primary characteristic is a female trait: compassion. (At one point, she even pities Dracula.) Stoker, it seems, had mixed feelings about the New Woman.
Whether or not politics was operating in Stoker’s novel, it is certainly at work in our contemporary vampire literature. Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series openly treats vampires as a persecuted minority. Sometimes they are like black people (lynch mobs pursue them), sometimes like homosexuals (rednecks beat them up). Meanwhile, they are trying to go mainstream. Sookie’s Bill has sworn off human blood, or he’s trying; he subsists on a Japanese synthetic. He registers to vote (absentee, because he cannot get around in daylight). He wears pressed chinos. This is funny but also touching. In “The Vampire Chronicles,” Anne Rice also seems to regard her undead as an oppressed group. Their suffering is probably, at some level, a story about AIDS. All this is a little confusing morally. How can we have sympathy for the Devil and still regard him as the Devil? That question seems to have occurred to Stephenie Meyer, who is a Mormon. Edward, the featured vampire of Meyer’s “Twilight,” is a dashing fellow, and Bella, the heroine, becomes his girlfriend, but they do not go to bed together (because of the conversion risk). Neither should you, Meyer seems to be saying to her teen-age readers. They are compensated by the romantic fever that the sexual postponement generates. The book fairly heaves with desire.
But in Stoker’s time no excitement needed to be added. Sex outside marriage was still taboo, and dangerous. It could destroy a woman’s life—a man’s, too. (Syphilis was a major killer at that time. One of Stoker’s biographers claimed that the writer died of it.) In such a context, we do not need to look for political meaning in Dracula’s transactions with women. The meaning is forbidden sex—its menace and its allure. The baring of the woman’s flesh, her leaning back, the penetration: reading of these matters, does one think about immigration?
The novel is sometimes close to pornographic. Consider the scene in which Harker, lying supine in a dark room in Dracula’s castle, is approached by the Count’s “brides.” Describing the one he likes best, Harker says that he could “see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips,” and hear “the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth.” It should happen to us! Harker is not the only one who does not object to a vampire overture. In Chapter 8, Lucy describes to Mina her memory of how, on a recent night, she met a tall, mysterious man in the shadow of the ruined abbey that looms over Whitby. (This was her first encounter with Dracula.) She speaks of her experience frankly, without shame, because she thinks it was a dream. She ran through the streets to the appointed spot, she says: “Then I have a vague memory of something long and dark with red eyes . . . and something very sweet and very bitter all around me at once; and then I seemed sinking into deep green water, and there was a singing in my ears, as I have heard there is to drowning men . . . then there was a sort of agonizing feeling, as if I were in an earthquake.” This is thrilling: her rushing to the rendezvous, her sense of something both sweet and bitter, then the “earthquake.” But Lucy is a flighty girl. The crucial testimony is that of Mina, after Dracula’s attack on her. “I did not want to hinder him,” this honest woman says. Her statement is echoed by the unsettling notes of tenderness in Seward’s description of the event: the kitten at the saucer of milk; Mina’s resemblance, with her face at Dracula’s breast, to a nursing baby. The mind reels.
“Dracula” is full of faults. It is way overfull. Many scenes are superfluous. The novel is replete with sentimentality, and with oratory. Van Helsing cannot stop making soul-stirring speeches to his fellow vampire-hunters. “Do we not see our duty?” he asks. “We must go on,” he urges them. “From no danger shall we shrink.” His listeners grasp one another’s hands and kneel and swear oaths and weep and flush and pale.
To these tiresome characteristics of Victorian fiction, Stoker adds problems all his own. The on-the-spot narration forces him, at times, into ridiculous situations. In Chapter 11, Lucy has a hard night. First, a wolf crashes through her bedroom window, splattering glass all over. This awakens her mother, who is in bed with her. Mrs. Westenra sits up, sees the wolf, and drops dead from shock. Then, to make matters worse, Dracula comes in and sucks Lucy’s neck. What does she do when that’s over with? Call the police? No. She pulls out her diary, and, sitting on her bed next to the rapidly cooling body of her mother, she records the episode, because Stoker needs to tell the reader about it.
None of this, however, outweighs the strengths of the novel, above all, its psychological acuity. The last quarter of the book, where the vampire-hunters, after the attack on Mina, go after Dracula in earnest, is very subtle, because at that point Mina’s dealings with the fiend have rendered her half vampire. At times, she is coöperating with her rescuers. At other times, she is colluding with Dracula. She is a double agent. Her friends know this; she knows it, too, and knows that they know; they know that she knows that they know. This is complicated, and not always tidily worked out, but we cannot help but be impressed by Stoker’s representation of the amoral contrivances of love, or of desire. In this bold clarity, “Dracula” is like the work of other nineteenth-century writers. You can complain that their novels were loose, baggy monsters, that their poems were crazy and unfinished. Still, you gasp at what they’re saying: the truth.
Each of the annotated editions of “Dracula” has had its claim to attention. Leonard Wolf’s “The Annotated Dracula,” with six hundred notes, was the first, and it also did the job—which somebody had to do eventually—of picking through the psychoneurotic aspects of the novel. The next version, “The Essential Dracula,” edited by Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu, had its own originality. These two history professors from Boston College had unearthed Stoker’s working notes for the novel. They drew no important conclusions from that source, but never mind. They had a sexy new theory: that Stoker based the character of Dracula on a historical personage, Vlad Dracula—also known as Vlad Tepes—a fifteenth-century Walachian prince who, in defending his homeland against the Turks, acquired a reputation for cruelty unusual even among warriors of that period. Tepes means “the Impaler.” Vlad’s preferred method of dealing with enemies was to skewer them, together with their women and children, on wooden stakes. A fifteenth-century woodcut shows him dining at a table set up outdoors so that he could watch his prisoners wriggle to their deaths. McNally and Florescu’s theory gave journalists a lot of exciting things to write about, and their articles were featured: if it bleeds, it leads. As a result, “The Essential Dracula” was very popular. (To add to the fun, Florescu claimed that he was an indirect descendant of Vlad.) The Vlad hypothesis has since been discredited. As scholars have figured out, Stoker, while working on “Dracula,” read, or read in, a book that discussed Vlad, whereupon he changed his villain’s name from Count Wampyr to Count Dracula, and moved him from Austria to Transylvania, which borders on Walachia. He picked up other details, too, but not many. This has not put later writers off Vlad’s story. Matthew Beresford, in “From Demons to Dracula,” acknowledges that Stoker’s character “was not modeled, to any great extent, on Vlad Dracula.” Yet he offers a whole chapter on the Walachian prince, including a long description of impalement methods, complete with illustrations. After reading this, you could impale someone yourself.
In 1998 came “Bram Stoker’s Dracula Unearthed,” by Clive Leatherdale, a Stoker scholar. This book did not get much attention, but it holds the record for annotation: thirty-five hundred notes, totalling a hundred and ten thousand words. Leatherdale’s edition was also remarkable for its practice—common among fans, if not editors, of cult books—of treating the novel as if it were fact rather than fiction. When Harker, invading the cellar of Castle Dracula, finds the Count sleeping in his dirt-filled coffin, Leatherdale’s note asks, “Is he lying on damp earth in his everyday clothes, or in his night-clothes, with no sheeting to prevent earth-stains?” This is a creature who has lived for centuries, and can fly, and raise storms at sea, and Leatherdale is worried about whether he’s going to get his clothes dirty? The practice of “Dracula” annotation is both quite serious (Leatherdale, like the others, did a lot of work) and also, unashamedly, an amusement. It is an exercise in showing off—a demonstration of the editor’s erudition, energy, interests—and a confession of love for the text.
Leslie Klinger, in his new annotated edition, claims that he has fresh material to go on. He has examined Stoker’s typescript, which is owned by a “private collector.” This source, he says, has yielded “startling results.” In fact, like McNally and Florescu with Stoker’s working notes, Klinger draws no important conclusions from his archival discovery, and he admits that he spent only two days studying the typescript. As with the McNally-Florescu version, however, the real sales angle of this edition is not a new source but a new theory. Klinger not only assumes, like Leatherdale, that all the events narrated in the novel are factual; he offers a hypothesis as to how Stoker came to publish them. Here goes. Harker, a real person (with a changed name), like everyone else in the book, gave his diary, together with the other documents that constitute the novel, to Bram Stoker so that Stoker might alert the English public that a vampire named Dracula, also real, was in their midst. Stoker agreed to issue the warning. But then Dracula got wind of this plan, whereupon he contacted Stoker and used on him the methods of persuasion famously at his disposal. Dracula decided that it was too late to suppress the Harker documents entirely, so instead he forced Stoker to distort them. He sat at the desk with Stoker and co-authored the novel, changing the facts in such a way as to convince the public that Dracula had been eliminated. That way, the Count could go on, unmolested, with his project of taking over the world.
Many of Klinger’s fifteen hundred notes are devoted to revealing this plot. When Stoker makes a continuity error, or fails to supply verifiable information, this is part of the coverup. The book says that Dracula’s London house is at 347 Piccadilly, but in the eighteen-nineties the only houses on that stretch of Piccadilly that would have answered Stoker’s description were at 138 and 139. Clearly, Klinger says, Stoker is protecting the Count. Then, there’s a problem about the hotel where Van Helsing is staying. In Chapter 9 it’s the Great Eastern; in Chapter 11 it’s the Berkeley. Again, Klinger concludes, Stoker is covering his characters’ traces. He altered the name of the hotel—presumably, he had to prevent readers from running over to the place and checking the register—but then he forgot and changed the name again.
At first, you think that maybe Klinger’s book is not actually an annotated edition of “Dracula” but, rather, like Nabokov’s “Pale Fire,” a novel about a paranoid, in the form of an annotated edition. But no: Klinger, in his introduction, lays out his conspiracy theory without qualification. So are we to understand that he himself is a maniac, whose delusions the editors at Norton thought it might be interesting to publish?
No again. Preceding Klinger’s introduction there is a little note, titled “Editor’s Preface”—exactly the kind of thing that readers would skip—in which he tells us that his great hypothesis is a “gentle fiction.” (He used a similar contrivance, he says, in his Sherlock Holmes edition.) Recently, in a book-tour appearance at the New York Public Library, Klinger again admitted that his theory was a game. “If you like that sort of thing, there’s a lot of that in there,” he said. April fool!
That’s too bad, first, because it means that a serious novel has been taken as a species of camp, and, second, because it discredits Klinger’s non-joke, scholarly footnotes, of which there are many, and carefully researched. Even after the other annotated editions, this volume gives us useful information. Maybe we didn’t need to be told what Dover is, or the Bosporus, but when Klinger writes about the rise of the New Woman, or about the popularity of spiritualism in the late nineteenth century, this gives us knowledge that Victorian readers would have brought to the novel, and which could help us. It won’t, though, because readers, having had their chain pulled by the conspiracy theory, will disregard those notes, if, improbably, they have bought the book. Every generation, it seems, gets the annotated “Dracula” that it deserves. This is the postmodern version: playful, “performative,” with a smiling disdain for any claim of truth. It found the perfect author. A tax attorney would know about gentle fictions.
Whoosh! Why is the curtain blowing so strangely? Oh, my God! There is a man in my study, with a briefcase—he claims he is a lawyer, from Los Angeles—and, by his side, another, taller figure, in black, with pointy teeth. They say they want to help me revise my article. I must break off! ♦
In both cases the essay reveals your knowledge of the subject and or your own opinion about the given topic pinterest. Ielts task writing opinion essay youtube paragraph essay instructions. Show check your writing multiple choice pinterest. Explore th grade writing prompts and more . best mind map templates images on pinterest essay writing pinterest examples of critical thinking in the classroom. In my opinion persuasive writing worksheet for kids free to print british council teens. Attack the prompt fsa writing school ideas for th grade . Formal informal english formal writing expressions formal letter practice for and against essay pinterest.
Topics for opinion essays persuasive essay topics high school read more. Opinion essay writing model commentary writing th grade for . Formal informal english formal writing expressions formal letter practice for and against essay pinterest.
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