Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Of Bram Stoker and Count Dracula

Hey guys,

In my Friday the 13th post, here, I mentioned that I was planning on doing a post on Bram Stoker. I finally got around to doing it today and I hope that you all enjoy it.

Bram Stoker is the author of the one and only Dracula. Stoker was born in November in 1847 and spent most of his childhood bed-ridden due to a mysterious illness. It is understood that his mother would keep him entertained with stories of Irish folklore, the occult and tales of the Famine (1845-1849) thus fuelling a Gothic imagination. 

Stoker recovered from his illness at age seven and during his adult years attended Trinity College in Dublin. He befriended the actor Henry Irving and went to England where he became manager of Irving's Lyceum Theatre. His connections to Irving meant he became a member of high society and travelled all around Europe, studying folklore and collecting vampire stories. 

It has been speculated that Stoker belonged to a secret society called The Order of the Golden Dawn. Interestingly W.B. Yeats has also been linked to this order. 
Dracula first lands at Whitby Castle in the novel.
Labelled for reuse. Click for original source.

Stoker died in April 1912 following a series of strokes although it is also suggested that he died of tertiary syphilis.

There have been countless adaptions of Draula. One of the earliest, if not the earliest film adoption was Nosferatu in 1922. Those involved were unable to obtain the rights and thus changed characters names for their unauthorized adaptation, for example the vampire became Nosferatu and Count Dracula was Count Orlok. I put up a review of a cool Dracula pop-up book I read ages ago here

The famous shadow from the 1922 Nosferatu.
I'm currently eyeing up a t-shirt with this print on it, actually.
Labelled for reuse. Click for original source.

Dracula was published in 1897 and despite the fact that Stoker has several published works, Dracula remains his most well-known and widely read piece of writing.

Although there is much debate surrounding the extent of the influence, it is often thought that the infamous Vlad the Impaler was a source of inspiration for the character of Dracula. Vlad the III Dracula was a terrible ruler of Wallachia (Romania) during the 15th century who had quite the gruesome penchant for impaling his victims. There's a guy you wanna party with. It is often argued that Stoker most likely took the name Dracula for his novel and actually knew little of Mr. Stab-happy's life. Dracul means dragon or devil in Romanian. 

One of the many genres of fiction that Stoker's novel has been linked with is Invasion Literature. His novel taps into fears and concerns of the period, namely over potential threats to the English Empire from outside her boundaries. The idea of the foreign body landing on British soil and essentially infecting her citizens, figuratively and literally, was quite a powerful one at the time.  For example The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells was published the following year, 1898, and tells the story of a Martian invasion upon London. I am reading that book now actually, it's quite creepy and delightfully timeless I think.

And how could we forget the episode of Buffy where she faces off with Dracula and Xander plays the bug-loving character of Renfield. Speaking of, who else loves Dracula Dead and Loving It? Peter MacNiol is a fabulous Renfield. I think I linked this video on my blog before but hey, tis a good 'un .

If you like vampire stories perhaps you'd enjoy this old post of mine which is about an old Irish Vampire myth. Click here to read.

Thanks for reading guys,
Hope you enjoyed.


Twisted Princess said...

I've always adored Dracula <3 (Though I only just recently added it to my bookshelf) People have always been entranced by the book. Just look at the huge list of film adaptions.
Have you heard that NBC recently approved a Dracula TV series? It's going to star Jonathan Rhys Meyers from the Tudors. (I'm actually rather scared...) ^^

Chris Hewson said...

Great post!

War of the Worlds is awesome, but Wells' refusal to name the characters gets really annoying! Especially during the 'exodus' with the 'narrator's brother', and 'the woman who' later becomes the narrator's brother's wife', and 'the brother's future wife's friend'! I remember it getting really annoying like that! Still, it's a totally awesome book!

Speaking of British invasion fiction have you ever read John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes? That was very good! and interestingly different from WotW.

By the way, I recently saw an early X-Men tv movie, and one actor in it was Canadian, but attempting an Irish accent. Here's the link to a scene with him (a bit after 30 seconds in), any idea if his Irish accent sounds convincing or terrible?

Cherish said...

Dracula's an amazing book! :D

I really enjoyed reading this post, and the Buffy/Dead and Loving It adaptions are really awesome. :)

Marmalade Marionette said...

Dracula is cool, but Nosferatu is awesome too. Funny thing is, Nosferatu slightly reminds me of Gru from Despicable Me.