Friday, November 10, 2006

Book 79: Dracula

NUMBER: 79
TITLE: Dracula
AUTHOR: Bram Stoker
STARTED: October 22, 2006
FINISHED: October 31, 2006
PAGES: 427
GENRE: Literature

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the Prologue, "Dracula's Guest"] When we started for our drive the sun was shining brightly on Munich, and the air was full of the joyousness of early summer.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Count Dracula has inspired countless movies, books, and plays. But few, if any, have been fully faithful to Bram Stoker's original, best-selling novel of mystery and horror, love and death, sin and redemption. Dracula chronicles the vampire's journey from Transylvania to the nighttime streets of London. There, he searches for the blood of strong men and beautiful women while his enemies plot to rid the world of his frightful power.

Today's critics see Dracula as a virtual textbook on Victorian repression of the erotic and fear of female sexuality. In it, Stoker created a new word for terror, a new myth to feed our nightmares, and a character who will outlive us all.

REASON FOR READING: I wanted something fitting for the days leading up to Halloween.

THOUGHTS: Streaky. Very streaky. There were long stretches of this book where I was bored to tears, but those stretches were capped with moments of intense, readable material. Unfortunately, these few scenes (like the one where we finally see Dracula at work) are not enough to make the book supremely enjoyable.

Stoker's use of journal entries, letters, and news clippings as the storytelling apparatus of the book was an imaginative way to make the reader feel a part of the story. This structure, however, was also the book's downfall. While these letters and journal pieces allow the reader into the various characters' heads, it also leads to the inevitable recaps of "This person said this, and then we did this. Then so-and-so showed up." Everything seems to have happened already. It's like hearing a story in real life, it's nice, but not as exciting as being in medias res. For me, this book was too slow. It was too narrated. I wanted to be shown, not told what was happening.

To be honest, I thought that this book was about Dracula, not about the people who interacted with Dracula. In that, I was very disappointed. I think I was expecting more "Vampire" and less "Who is this lanky dude running around, and why is poor Miss Lucy always pale and lethargic?" Goodness me!

I was frustrated with the characters on multiple times because they just seemed so stupid. Here they were, logical, educated characters, tracking down a mystery, and none of them seemed to come up with the idea that maybe letting Miss Lucy sleep alone night after night was a bad idea. I guess this is where all the ideas of Dracula being about repressed sexual Victorian angst comes in. Even looking for allusions to the inappropriate, I was disappointed. Frankly, I probably was expecting more blood.

After all, it was Halloween when I finished.

MISCELLANEOUS: Oh Edward Gorey, how did your art become so famous?

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Back to the library it goes.
RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: The Panther & The Pyramid by Bonnie Vanak
RN: The Untamed Heiress by Julia Justiss

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