Thursday, 28 July 2011

Dracula - read it on a dark, rainy weekend!

If you find yourself at home on a long, rainy weekend in winter.  Perhaps the fire is going, all your friends are out of town, and there's just you and the cat; I highly recommend losing yourself in the original 'Dracula' (insert - thunderclap).

If you're a reader of classics, you'll appreciate the dark symbolism and poetic language employed by Stoker.  If you're not, it's one classic you might enjoy with its sinister yet saucy tale.

The novel is a well known Gothic tale about the elusive Count Dracula.  It is written in an epistolary style, which means it is a series of diary entries, letters, newspaper articles and so on.  This style makes it interesting as we read about the story and characters from different perspectives, and we are left wondering which perspectives are reliable (insert- eerie music)!

We are introduced to the story by Jonathan Harker, a young solicitor who travels to Transylvania to meet with Dracula on business.  The narrative then switches back to England where Harker's fiance, Mina and her friend Lucy, pick up the tale.  They wonder what has happened to Jonathan and also muse upon the mysterious arrival of a ship, with one dead body on board.  The simultaneous sightings of a black dog have the town of Whitby in a flap.  A strange sequence of events plays out, first with Lucy, then with Mina!

The thing that keeps you turning the pages and wanting to know more is the lack of explicit reference.  Stoker manages to allude to sexuality and horror in symbolic ways, making it all the more tantalising and just  plain scary.  The word 'Vampire' is barely mentioned, and so we wonder, along with Harker who or what Dracula is!

Here is one of my favourite descriptions:

"... my very feelings changed to repulsion and terror when I saw the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over that dreadful abyss, face down, with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings.  At first I could not believe my eyes.  I thought it was some trick of the moonlight, some weird effect of shadow;  but I kept looking, and it could be no delusion.  I saw the fingers and toes grasp the corners of the stones, worn clear of the mortar by the stress of years, and by thus using every projection and inequality move downwards with considerable speed, just as a lizard moves along a wall."
Isn't it thrilling?

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