Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dracula discussion pt.1

I hope you have all read your copy of Dracula...we might have a test later. Okay, probably not, but I really would like to hear your opinions on this classic tale.  One thing I have noticed while putting this event together is that not many people seem to be overjoyed at the thought of reading the original book. I'll use an email between Michele and I springboard this discussion:

Michele: Seriously, though?  Rereading Dracula is a little...boring.  :-)  It was great the first time through, but now I'm like, a whole half a chapter dedicated to the ship tossing on the waves?  And please, Lucy can be whiny.  And Dracula has so little actual page time.  But while a bit boring, it is fascinating as well, so am glad to be reading it again.

Anna: Dracula isn't the most entertaining book, at least for me. I read it because Stoker was unique to his time and he offers great insight into that age. And his writing style was different. Honestly, I tend to think of Stoker's book as more of a stepping stone for other great writers. Just look at how many authors pick up where Dracula left off, or tell the story from another character

I'll add to that conversation now and say that Dracula is an excellent historical book and can be quite useful as a glimpse into a different time, but that the style and tone of writing definitely takes getting used to. The pacing is slow and many of the descriptions are drawn out and lack the excitement that modern books are full of. And Michele was right on target when she said Lucy can be whiny! 

That being said, Stoker did something that many authors attempt but fail to achieve..he created a character that endures. Nobody expected a vampire to be a central character in popular fiction, let alone one that would continue to fascinate people for over 100 years. Count Dracula may not have been the first vampire to grace the page, but he certainly helped shape the mythology.

So tell me...were you intimidated by the classic novel status? Are you put off by all the hype? Or do you just prefer to keep to the movies for your Dracula fix?

And on a completely different note, Michele and I have been reading different version of the book and her copy has some really cool old maps. I thought I'd share them with you 1) to get your take on the inclusion of illustrations in historical fiction, 2) because it's fascinating to follow these maps as the story progresses, and 3) it's interesting to see how the region changed from then to now.

Do any of you have a copy of Dracula with maps? Are they different from the ones in Michele's book?

Dracula's Castle is circled in red. [Note: these maps were scanned from THE ANNOTATED DRACULA, copyright 1975 by Leonard Wolf]

Let's talk! What are your impressions of Bram Stoker's Dracula? Was the writing style difficult to follow? Or did you maybe like the journal styled format? What characters did you like best/worst? Did you learn anything new about Victorian England?


the cautionary tale said...

the writing was a little difficult to wade through but no more difficult than Shakespeare. Once I got into the style, it read fairly easy. My favorite character was Mina. I find Victorian England fascinating. The society had so many layers and nuances. This book and it's style speaks to that. For me, Dracula was a WIN.

Michele Hauf said...

I admit, I gave up about two-thirds of the way through. I know! Shame! I got to Lucy's beheading, then...well, other books attracted me more. And just when things were starting to pick up!

I think what was bugging me was as I was reading, I kept imagining Winona and Keanu as Mina and Jonathon, and I did not like Keanu as Harker in the movie.

And Dracula has so little page time. Really. You can count on one hand (and maybe a few extra fingers) how many scenes he actually has.

I like Renfield the best because he provided that unexpected element.

Anna (Bite Club) said...

@cautionary tale: I'm glad you enjoyed the book and your comparison to reading Shakespeare was an excellent choice. It's one of those things that you have to set your mind to, get in the mood for, and stick with it. Over the course of this month I have set the book down for days at a time and when I picked it back up I could read several chapters in one sitting. But it was hard for me to finish...I think the discussion deadline helped. Do you think that reading the classic is essential for vampire fans or do you think that as time passes more people will just skip it entirely?

@Michele: So true! It is very hard to separate the book from the movie and I struggled with that too. The Coppola version of the movie is my favorite, and I watch it all the time, so I had to concentrate extra hard to follow the book.

I wonder if it was Stoker's intention to make Dracula more of a secondary character or if he just didn't want the villain to overshadow the rest of the book? I wish he played a bigger role too.

And yes, Renfield is awesome. In both the book and the movie:)

Carrie said...

I too cant separate the movie from the book. It has made for a challenging read. I really like the maps. i like to see how places evolve.Thanks

Betty Turner said...

I am slightly ashamed to admit that I hadn't read Dracula until it came up for discussion here. I decided that it was more than time for me to read it... (I read the cliff's notes in college so that doesn't count)

I have to say I was intimidated by it at first. I mean I am totally in love with the "contemporary" vampire, but I haven't given much thought to the "old" vampire.

I'm actually in the middle of the book and trying to get through the end. Like Michele, other books attracted me and I agree with The Cautionary Tale that the writing is just hard to understand. To me, the diary style format was okay... (after I realized it was in a diary style format and not just a story) so I had to go back and read the first couple of pages again so I could make sense out of what was going on...

I do wish Dracula had more page time and his character's story opened up to us more than it was...

Gypsy Jane said...

I had first read Dracula with my mom when I was 9 or 10 - and promptly got a crush on him. I missed the part about him being a monster.
So this year I read it again. And I still missed the part about him being a monster.
I am not a fan of the letters/diaries style, but can wade through to enjoy the story anyway.