READING THE CLASSICS: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Dracula_!I’ve been interested in vampire stories since my favourite 80’s heartthrob Corey Haim (Cut me some slack… I was 13 years old.) starred in cult classic movie The Lost Boys. I then read a few Anne Rice novels in my late teens. And yes, I confess to reading the Twilight saga in recent years. Somehow, I had never gotten around to reading the classic novel that inspired the whole vampire craze: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Well, I’ve finally read it and wasn’t disappointed. Here is my February feature for Reading the Classics Challenge in 2015.

Five Highlights While Reading Bram Stocker’s Dracula:

5.  Unlike the “horror” scenes in other Gothic novels like Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a couple of the scary bits in Dracula actually made the back of my neck prickle.

Dracula_34.  The eroticism in Stoker’s Dracula is much more overt and prevailing than I had imagined. The yearning of young, virtuous Lucy after her first encounter with a vampire, the passages laced with homoerotic longing, and the predatory advances of the women on imprisoned Jonathan Harker were a surprise. How the Victorian ladies must have fanned themselves silly to avoid swooning while reading Dracula! All this time, I thought that Anne Rice’s depiction of vampires Lestat and Louis was a twist on an old story. Boy was I mislead.

3.  I loved spotting the various myths and traits about vampires in the novel: having no shadow nor reflection, having porcelain-pale skin and sharp fangs, turning to dust after being killed, and transforming into bats… I wonder if readers in 1897 new about this folklore or if Dracula helped spread it?

Dracula_12.  This cheesy, but oh-so-good quote: ““There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.” Professor and vampire expert Van Helsing says this to the clever, resourceful Mina during their plight to help Lucy. Sigh.

1.  Wrapping up my reading of Dracula gave me a good excuse to watch Francis Ford Coppola’s movie adaptation from the early 90’s. Ignore the craptastic performances of Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. Enjoy the fabulous Gary Oldman as a formidable, sinister Dracula and (the razor-licking scene is beyond disgusting) and Tom Waits as a raving lunatic (such a welcome surprise).

 Join me again next month when I will discuss Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.


6 thoughts on “READING THE CLASSICS: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

  1. I just watched that movie trailer, and I have to admit that I have no desire to watch the movie. But, your description of it is very entertaining. And, I think I would like to read the book. I can handle so much more in a book than I can in a movie. This review was fun to read!

  2. I remember being really surprised by #4 when I read Dracula, too. Then I read Carmilla–which is pretty inescapably about a lesbian vampire–and was even more surprised. Apparently vampires have been sex symbols for quite a while (although Dracula himself is not such a great catch, what with the hairy palms and all).

  3. Ohhh I love this book! I remember that when I read it, I was very surprised at… how good it is! I had imagined it would be a bit cliché, a bit cheesy. And it’s not! The “sickness” of Lucy is really creepy and the trip to Dracula’s castle is honestly scary (the eroticism only made it even scarier to me!). I loved Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire and its sequels (and the movie!), but for some reason I find Dracula much, much darker and gloomy.

  4. I saw “The Lost Boys” in the theatre and I *loved* it. Funnily enough, I never connected that in any way with my later enjoyment of other vampire stories (oh, I thought the Anne Rice novels were terrific back then…not sure how I would find them now..and I loved the Tanya Huff Blood series too), so maybe it was the storytelling that appealed more than the vampires themselves? Somehow I’d expected Dracula to be a little dry but I read it a couple of years ago and wholly enjoyed it for many of the reasos you’ve described. Glad to hear that your classics project is proving such fun for you.

    • Carole Besharah says:

      Maybe you are right… “maybe it was the storytelling that appealed more than the vampires themselves.” I wonder if I’d still LOVE The Lost Boys as much as my 13-year-old self. Some things are best not to be revisited.

      Thanks for dropping by!

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