Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dracula, post-coitus.


-for the book Dracula by Bram Stoker. For the 3 of you out there who haven't read it yet, and intend to do so.

So, I finished reading it last night.It came out in 1896, and as can happen with older works, the style was a notable obstacle to the eyes of a modern reader. I actually find William Shakespeare easier to read. Stoker has also done a fair handful or romance novels, and I think that shows its hand in Dracula here and there.

Our heroes spend a lot of time complimenting each other, on their noble nature, kindness, righteousness, blah, blah, and when speaking of women, how beautiful they are. The treatment of women in general is a tad on the misogynistic side, but Mina is credited for her courage and intellect.. but is always measured against that of a man. Well, such is the era, I suppose. And when Van Helsing hits the scene, he's described by another character for half a bloody page.

"Professor Van Helsing is the most interesting man in the world. He doesn't always hunt vampires, but when he does, he accuses them of having 'child-mind', and criminal mentalities, with all the worldly understanding as 60's batman."

"Vampires are a superstitious, and cowardly lot."
"Holy rosary, Batman! Is that why we're wearing garlic cologne?"

The book is written entirely in the heroes' journal entries, correspondence, and things like that. They go on at length on ideas we've already been introduced to, and with metaphors that sprawl needlessly on, only to have it explained by lengthy sprawling simile.

I'm looking at you, Helsing.
You were expecting Hugh Jackman? Faugh, I say! My movie was kind of passable!

Although I haven't seen the movie in ages, I know there were notable differences.

Woah. Differences? A movie isn't 100% faithful to its book??

For example- Neo is not Jonathan Harker. I was glad to have not seen the movie in so long, so that certain imagery would not taint the book.

Can you tell that I'm a little split on the book? It was a bit of a chore to read.. much of that is due to the era in which it was written, and my GenX.5 brain's perception of it. At the same time, I don't want to give Bram a free pass on the parts that grate overly much.

If nothing else, we owe the book for breathing new un-life into the mythology of the vampire, and establishing many tropes that we know and love today.

Bram's Dracula doesn't sparkle in sunlight, but neither does he burst into flame; he just loses the use of his otherworldly powers. I enjoy the character of Dracula a lot more in the first half. When we first meet him, we get an up close encounter. WE know what he is, but Jonathan does not. As clue after clue is revealed, the 21st century reader can be excused the think, "JONATHAN, you MORON! You should KNOW what he is! Haven't you seen..... uh... every movie about vampires made in the time since this book came out? Huh.. nevermind, proceed, idiot."
"Like, I know, right? Y'know? Vampire! DUH!"
(Above pictured is from the movie Nosferatu. His name is Orlok. His movie is legend in itself.)

After his introductory in-book month, Drac all but disappears, headed for London. For a time, nothing.. lots of nothing. Then, something. Things that if the reader did not know better, could be entirely unrelated. OK, we're headed into huge spoilers here...

A lunatic in an asylum, a beautiful victim claimed ever-so-slowly, a ship arriving with a dead crew and a telling journal, brought into harbor by the (dracula controlled) weather, and Drac is shown at his most dominating, threatening, and powerful. Unless you count his wielding of minions back at his home turf.

Our heroes clue in to what's going on, (with meeting after meeting, and letters piles upon letters) a tad too late to prevent a tragedy, but they drive Drac from London. And this marks the moment when Drac becomes increasingly a fleeing, powerless rodent.

Our committee of heroes take the offensive, chasing Drac down in a calculated manner befitting an english committee  Slow. They actually have a legitimate Lord on the team, so I imagine they all had powdered wigs, and said "harumph" a lot.
"Harumph! Do take that back! Harumph and and faugh!"

Lord wassisface comes in handy, as his title gets them through certain bottlenecks  and his cash gets them through the rest. For various reasons, they split into three groups of two, and end up converging on the buggy carrying Drac, who's been in torpor for a long while, and essentially helpless.

In the not-so-grand battle that ensued, Drac is slain before waking enough to utter a word. The only wound suffered by our heroes is fatal, but inflicted by one of Drac's hirelings who isn't even aware of Drac's nature. (Maybe even unaware that there was anyone in the box on the buggy.)

Aside from the death of a 2nd tier party member, the killing of Drac felt like more of a mugging, and the being which had shown so much power earlier in the book spent the last third of the story coming off more like a vermin, waiting to get stepped on.

Blame Hollywood maybe, or Castlevania, but I was hoping Drac would get back to his castle, and be the subject of a somewhat grander battle.
Come on, Belmont, this isn't even my final form!
(Genzoman did the art above. Click the pic to go see more of his stuff.)

In the end, it.. was over. I was glad to have read it, and I was perhaps a little gladder to be done of it. I read it mainly to educate myself. Stoker's Dracula is a... if not THE cornerstone of vampires as we know them today.

And now I can be that snot who cites things, and feels superior. Which is why any of us read, isn't it?

Oh, and any of you who may be fans of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, might enjoy a flash I made once with Drac in it.


..... damn... did I just write a book report? Willingly, and of my own volition? Shoot me....

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