Seeing as it’s soon Halloween, I decided to put some thematic considerations into my book selection. Over recent years, we have all witnessed the rise in fame of the vampire-genre. We’ve seen the creatures turn from cruel villain, to romantic hero. I actually find this role reversal somewhat sickening at times, however entertaining it may be. So I decided to go back to the basics… Well, perhaps, Bram Stoker’s Dracula isn’t the oldest ever vampire story, but it is the novel where we derived our original image of the eponymous Count. It is in fact the novel which inspired several film adaptations and other novels of the genre. Indeed it has also inspired a new TV series starring The Tudors’s Jonathan Rhys Meyers, which will be airing at the end of this month.
Aside from a much more demonic and gruesome depiction of vampires, I feel the novel is commendable because of the way it’s written. It is actually a collection of diary entries and snippets from newspapers, which enhance the general sense of it being a historical account. I admit the idea of reading a collection of diary entries wasn’t quite attractive to me on the outset, but Stoker weaves the tale so effectively and distributes all his information evenly throughout the novel, so that there is hardly ever a dull moment. Another interesting aspect of the novel is the window it offers into the 19th Century. Although it is a far way off, the novel very clearly depicts the different moral attitudes of its time. This is particularly so in the depiction of women; the demonic, lascivious female vampires are contrasted with the angelic (often excessively so,) heroines of the novel. Although the heroes often seem too concerned with general good manners, it’s all part of the charm of the time in question. Indeed, although this might make it seem like a different world from our own altogether, the novel manages to remain relate-able. There is within the novel a predominance of scientific characters that seem incredulous of anything that can’t be clearly proven and a constant threat of civil manners being undermined and becoming slowly obsolete… ring any bells yet?
I do believe that the novel is worth the read, not least because it’s one of the top spooks in Classic English Literature. Furthermore, the current time of year is quite perfect for it; hours of daylight getting progressively shorter, the wind howling outside, the sudden need for a blanket and a cup of tea or hot cocoa (…any time now…). These will all help put you in the right mood and hopefully frighten you out of your wits. Here’s hoping you can’t wait to sink your teeth into this one!