(If interested in previous posts from the Quarterly Classics Club, find them here)
Quarterly Classics Club: Dracula
Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, the gothic novel and invasion literature. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, he defined its modern form, and the novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film and television interpretations.
I have long said I hate scary things. Outside of a couple of exceptions in my lifetime, I avoid scary things (and will close my eyes and ears during a scary preview….why do they have to make kids creepy in horror movies?!). But Dracula is its own beast (I’m so clever). Not only because it doesn’t add in what today’s films do, but it truly shows the battle of good vs evil, even how enticing evil might seem. I love everything about this novel and really enjoyed re-reading it.
The story has such bravery and courage. Friendship and love. I think we need those books that display evil so clearly, because it reminds us of the battles out there. Although I have to admit, I have to break up this book with a light novel, otherwise my dreams get all kinds of strange. Not freaky/nightmare, but y’all, weird. I always laugh at myself when I wake up.
When people find out this is one of my all-time favorites, they ask if I’ve seen the movie. To which I answer NEVER! I refuse to taint my love of this book by watching the movie (although I am a fan of many of the actors in the film. Don’t know what I think of Mina’s casting in the 90s version though).
A few thoughts on some characters
Mina: Talk about going through the wringer! She has no idea where he soon-to-be husband is for the early part of the novel, then she finds out he’s been through hell and back, loses her best friend, finds out her best friend became a vampire, is bitten by Dracula and then is forced to drink his blood. That’ll would put me out of the game for a few months. Yet, she’s a strong woman (they couldn’t have beat the Count without her).
Lucy: Every time I think of her, I get sad. One night of sleep walking did her in. Poor Lucy, especially after she found her love. I thought the scene, right before she died, when she thanked Van Helsing for protecting Arthur was a touching last show of her love and devotion.
Jonathan: Same as Mina, he went through the wringer as well – even more so with having to live through the Count’s Castle shenanigans, then fear that he might lose Mina. I do love his bravery, devotion and love of Mina. I mean, if he were real and alive in 2017, I wouldn’t say no. 😉
Arthur: Such a brave soul as well. Imagine having to drive a stake through the undead version of the love of your life? Again, sentences I would never say in real life, but I thought Stoker did an excellent job with his development from then on out – from his commitment to go after Dracula to his weeping with Mina.
Van Helsing: Can I be as rad as him when I’m old?
Renfield: Another soul I felt so bad for.
Dr. Seward was a great character as well, although I don’t have much to say beyond that. Also, why did it have to be the Texan to die? #Hatin #RIPQuincey
One of my favorite things about Stoker is his ability to set up the scene. While we all knew what was coming, I enjoyed early on Harker’s observations before he officially met the Count:
“I could hear a lot of words often repeated, queer words, for there were many nationalities in the crowd, so I quietly got my polyglot dictionary from my bag and looked them out. I must say they were not cheering to me, for amongst them were “Ordog”–Satan, “Pokol”–hell, “stregoica”–witch, “vrolok” and “vlkoslak”–both mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Servian for something that is either werewolf or vampire. (Mem., I must ask the Count about these superstitions.)”
“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!” Seeing, I suppose, some expression in my face strange to him, he added, “Ah, sir, you dwellers in the city cannot enter into the feelings of the hunter.” Nah, I’m good.
Some lines, just spot on:
“In silence we returned to the library, and after a minute or two I went to my own room. The last I saw of Count Dracula was his kissing his hand to me, with a red light of triumph in his eyes, and with a smile that Judas in hell might be proud of.”
I call this “Worst Nightmare:”
“When I got almost to the top I could see the seat and the white figure, for I was now close enough to distinguish it even through the spells of shadow. There was undoubtedly something, long and black, bending over the half-reclining white figure. I called in fright, “Lucy! Lucy!” and something raised a head, and from where I was I could see a white face and red, gleaming eyes.”
This is one of my all time favorite lines of the book (from Van Helsing)
“Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all, and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain.”
Have you read this Classic? Would love for you to share your thoughts, favorite characters, quotes and such!