Synopsis: A true masterwork of storytelling, Dracula has transcended generation, language, and culture to become one of the most popular novels ever written. It is a quintessential tale of suspense and horror, boasting one of the most terrifying characters ever born in literature: Count Dracula, a tragic, night-dwelling specter who feeds upon the blood of the living, and whose diabolical passions prey upon the innocent, the helpless, and the beautiful. But Dracula also stands as a bleak allegorical saga of an eternally cursed being whose nocturnal atrocities reflect the dark underside of the supremely moralistic age in which it was originally written — and the corrupt desires that continue to plague the modern human condition.
Review: 4/5 stars
Another case of me starting a review with no idea how to rate it. This book was…a ride.
I think my professor put it best when he said, “Dracula is either really good or really shitty.” Okay, yes, I’m paraphrasing, but only a little.
This book is quite a feat, either way. You can read essentially ANY THEME into this novel: good and evil, race, religion, gender, science, wealth, power, abstinence, war, colonization. More, probably, but it’s a Monday and I had four hours straight of math tonight and I’m sleeeeepy. Anyway, that all sounds peachy keen, right? Emma, I imagine you saying, what do you mean it could be shitty? Look at all those themes! It’s the great Irish novel, maybe! I know, imaginary reader. I hear ya. But there are things about this book that are even weirder than that quasi-sex scene. (The joke is that you can’t tell which one. There are a million symbolic moments of characters gettin’ it on. Truly wild.)
BUT OKAY. It’s not just that there are a bajillion themes. Because that would be cool. No, it’s that you can make an argument for either side of every theme. Sexist or feminist; condemning religion or supporting it; racist or accepting; et cetera et cetera. The book is also straight up teeming with stuff like repetition that can either be thematically significant or just a bad job. (Can you imagine being the editor of this book? “Uh, Bram?…Hey buddy. So, you use essentially the same passage describing Dracula’s powers three times in one chapter, so – I was, you know, wondering – are you a genius or a total dumbass?” If I achieve my dream of being an editor/publisher I’m only editing YA. Too scary.)
The upside of all this was that this book was such a blast to discuss in class. (A substantial f*cking improvement from slogging through boring old Huck Finn everyday for two weeks.) We would spend like an hour on a page, trying to discern sexism from feminism and desperately seeking homosexual overtones. (OH BOY DID WE FIND THEM, AND OH BOY DID WE LOVE DOING IT.) Anyway. In-depth textual analysis is like, my favorite thing.
This shindig was intermittently a blast (ohmygod! Vampires were fun even in 1897!) and soooo boring (ohmygod. What is up with plotlines from 1897). Still, I gotta give mad props to this book, because I read it EXCLUSIVELY by forcing myself through it in 110-page chunks in one work-study shift…and I still enjoyed it most of the time. That never happens! Sure as shit didn’t happen with Huck Finn.
The characters really sucked, but that happens a lot with classics. Weird that a handful of these endured, though. I won’t miss them even if I end up missing reading this. (It’s been a big part of my life for a while! Okay, like a couple weeks, but that’s a long time for me.)
But I do think this book is sexist, and I don’t think it’s close to perfect, and there are creepy issues with consent and metaphoric sexual assault and gender roles, and I wanted to write a paper on this book being an allegory of the battle between science and religion (religion won, guys!) but was FORCED to write on gender, the most clichéd topic of them all. Still, though, this book impressed me. (To clarify I wasn’t excited that religion won. I’m excited that said conclusion fit with my hypothetical essay.)
Bottom line: I think I liked this? I definitely recommend it. It’s cool to see what started (not actually but don’t @ me) all our cultural whatnot with vampires. (Still not that into them though. I say while technically currently reading some dumb book about them.)