Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Review: 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker

Well, this is one of those classics that have to be read at some stage and what stage is better than university? So, I had to read 'Dracula' for my module 'Studying Literature' and I was actually quite looking forward to it. A lot of bloggers and friends have told me that it is a very good read and since the university decided we had to read it, I assumed it would be very good. So, here I go. 
A dreary castle, blood-thirsty vampires, open graves at midnight, and other Gothic touches fill this chilling tale about a young Englishman's confrontation with the evil Count Dracula. A horror romance as deathless as any vampire, the blood-curdling tale still continues to hold readers spellbound a century later.
First of all, the genre of current vampire fiction doesn't really do it for me. I feel like vampirism is simply added to an already existing storyline to give it something extra. So it was quite interesting to go back to the original material, material being the proper word. Being an epistolary novel, the entirety of the plot is presented through letters, telegrams and mainly diary entries by the different characters. So not only do we have letters, we also have different points of view from all the different characters. 

I did enjoy the story a lot. The beginning, centred around Jonathan Harker, is great because the introduction to Count Dracula is both sudden and spooky. Of course a contemporary reader knows exactly who he is, but the way Jonathan slowly finds out his host is supernatural is quite gripping. Dracula is scary and there is even some slight homo-erotic tension there for a bit. Then we seem to lose Jonathan and move on to his fiancee Mina and her friend Lucy. From here on up until near the end there are some definite highlights that keep the story going but in between there were many bits that just made me want to give up on the novel. The diary entries are interesting, yes, but all of them simply go on and on about the same point. As soon as the chase after Dracula starts the story picks up again and then ends rather suddenly. 

The characters were all entertaining, but a bit strange at times. For example, was I the only one who found the relationship between Lucy's three lovers slightly strange? It seems contrived and very unlikely. I did like Mina Harker. She seemed to be very intelligent and independent which was why I was very disappointed when she suddenly became all submissive. I here felt Stoker was trying to stay within the social expectations of his time although he could have created an amazing female character. Dracula himself didn't get as much attention as I had expected but it was good to see that the vampire is a monster, not a sparkly 18-year old. As a Dutch person, I was looking forward to reading about Van Helsing. The German side in be then got annoyed that he constantly said 'Mein Gott', which is clearly not Dutch but German. Make up your mind Stoker!

So, overall I quite enjoyed the book but it didn't blow me away as such. At times it was quite hard to get through, especially compared to the book I read afterwards (James Joyce's 'Dubliners' which I will review tomorrow). I give it...

3 UNIVERSES!!!

'Dracula' is a very interesting novel to read, especially because as a reader you already know about Dracula. There is no suspense as such and no shock at finding he is a vampire. And the fact that it is epistolary makes it hard to read at times as it becomes slightly repetitive and drags along quite a bit. 

Have you read it? What did you think of it?

2 comments:

  1. What an awesome review!

    Dracula remains one of my favorite classics. Like you, I like the fact that the vampire was seen as a monster instead of something "hot" or/and "sparkling." I also agree with you that the constant shift of point-of-view makes it a little tedious to read. But hey, this is the book that started it all!

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  2. I basically agree with you. However, I really hated the chauvinistic attitude. I know this is how it was at the time, but it doesn't mean I have to be okay with it. I like Stoker's writing style, though.

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