DraculaNo man knows till he experiences it, what it is to feel his own life-blood drawn away into the veins of the woman he loves.
This seems to be my first time reading Dracula, and I LOVED IT. I say "seems" because I swear I've read it before. However, that would have been ages ago. Or a byproduct of seeing 10 million different Dracula interpretations before the age of 20. o.O So it was fresh and relatively new to me. I was surprised by the twists and turns. I thought I would be able to reasonably preNo man knows till he experiences it, what it is to feel his own life-blood drawn away into the veins of the woman he loves.This seems to be my first time reading Dracula, and I LOVED IT. I say "seems" because I swear I've read it before. However, that would have been ages ago. Or a byproduct of seeing 10 million different Dracula interpretations before the age of 20. o.O So it was fresh and relatively new to me. I was surprised by the twists and turns. I thought I would be able to reasonably predict the whole plot - and I couldn't.
Let's talk about major issues, because review space is limited and I believe everyone knows the basics of the plot. Evil vampire, blood-sucking fiend, lives in Transylvania, moves to London, and fucks with the wrong people. (Did NOT know who he was fucking with, as Riddick would say. LOL) You know the drill. Besides having 217 status updates - with many quotes continued in the comments, I had copious notes and also a running list of vocabulary words that I learned from Dracula. :)I very much enjoyed this reading. :D You can tell from all my status updates and huge pile of notes. Sometimes I'd only read one or two pages in a day and just let them simmer inside me. I've been thinking about Dracula non-stop for about 11 days now. *evil grin* It was a perfect October and/or Halloween read. I had this absolutely jaw-droppingly gorgeous leatherbound B&N edition. Yum. It's been my constant companion these last 11 days. I didn't leave home without it! LOL
I sometimes think we must be all mad and that we shall wake to sanity in strait-waistcoats.
We seem to be drifting to some terrible doom.FEMINISMAh, ha ha ha. You knew I'd start with that, right? :DThis book is full of explicit sexist bullshit. Non-stop explicit sexist bullshit. Yes, I understand that this was 1897. Please don't lecture me in the comments about presentism.I was surprised the sexism was so very blatant.
There is a lot of talk - by all characters, male and female, about "brave men" and "weak, poor women who are just frail creatures" who "can't stand strain" and should be shielded from the world and from the truth. Men are praised for being strong and brave and if a man is particularly brave, he's described as all man.Let's talk about Mina Murray-Harker.
"Mrs. Harker is better out of it. Things are quite bad enough for us, all men of the world, and who have been in many tight places for our time; but it is not place for a woman, and if she had remained in touch with the affair, it would in time infallibly have wrecked her."At first I was very angry with Mina. She holds sexist myths and sexist beliefs very close to her heart. She even blames Eve and the "apple" for women's "inherently sinful nature" at one point! I hate that shit. Disgusting.
I could not resist the temptation of mystifying him a bit - I suppose it is some of the taste of the original apple that remains still in our mouths - so I handed him the shorthand diary.Both Mina Murray-Harker and Lucy Westenra are complete angels: good, sweet, pure, kind, "motherly" beings whom men (almost literally) worship. Lucy gets three marriage proposals in one day, and even the men she rejects swear undying devotion and fealty to her. Mina fares just the same. Every single male who comes into contact with these women prostrate themselves and declare their undying devotion. And not in a sexual way! There's a need to have a woman to protect and champion and care for. And she provides her services as a stenographer, a shoulder to cry on, and a cheerful and beautiful presence to boost the men's spirits.Now, you may think that this book is a sexist piece of shit, but I was actually surprised and impressed with Mina. She's smart, capable, and features prominently in the book. Van Helsing praises her as having "a man's brain." She drives the coach, she figures stuff out before the men do - and she wants to be included in everything.Which brings me to another point. A very large subplot here is the interaction of Jonathan Harker and Mina. Once privy to Jonathan's every thought and experience, Mina's position shifts when the other men encourage Jonathan to stop talking to Mina about vampires and the work they're doing to hunt Dracula completely, leaving her in the dark and cutting her out of their once coed meetings. Jonathan does it, convinced it's the right thing to do, although he feels inside that it's wrong somehow. This is the man who, just before proposing to Mina, states that there should be no secrets or hiding between spouses and gives her his journal so that she knows all.
"Wilhelmina... you know, dear, my ideas of trust between husband and wife: there should be no secret, no concealment."He knows somewhere deep inside that making her an outsider in this is deeply wrong. But he does it - and is punished severely for it.After that, Mina once again resumes an active role in the groups activities - as it should be, her fighting by their side. Even though it may have been unintentional on Stoker's part, I was overall pleased with how things turned out, especially for a book written in 1897.
Is this a feminist text?NO. It is not. I don't want to give you the wrong idea, it is NOT. But how about I file it in the 'not as bad as I thought it was going to be' category on the topic of feminism? :)BAND OF BROTHERS On thing that I loved about this book was the men and the men's relationships with one another. You have Jonathan Harker - Solicitor who is the first in the novel to encounter Dracula. I thought he was a complete ninny and think Mina could have done much better in picking a husband, but oh well.Quincey P. Morris - Texan. Rich. Very fond of guns and shooting things.
"I believe in my heart of hearts that [Morris] suffered as much about ----'s death as any of us; but he bore himself through it like a moral Viking. If America can go on breeding men like that, she will be a power in the world indeed."Dr. John Seward - Psychologist who runs a mental asylum. Smarter and more badass than either Morris or Harker or Holmwood. Practical and straightforward. I always thought Mina should have married him instead of that nitwit Jonathan Harker. Ugh.Arthur Holmwood - Rich. Engaged to Lucy Westenra.
"What can I do?" asked Arthur hoarsely. "Tell me, and I shall do it. My life is hers, and I would give the last drop of blood in my body for her."Or what about this gem:
LUCY: I have an appetite like a cormorant, am full of life, and sleep well.An appetite like a cormorant. Welp, that's a new one.
Arthur says I am getting fat.Arthur can go fuck himself. What is this, James Bond? Fuck that shit.Dr. Abraham Van Helsing - Badass name for a badass man. This was the only man I was interested in in the book. Intelligent, ruthless, gets shit done - but is still a kind, loving and polite person. He's a lawyer AND a doctor AND a vampire expert AND an expert at breaking-and-entering. This is who I would be making eyes at if I were in London at the time. ;) Good with consent, has a strong conscience, and has lots of experience. ;) Very attractive. ;)ANYWAY. What is my point of listing all these men?
So you can discuss whether they are a.) nitwits or b.) worthy of kissing?LOL No. I mean, obviously I am always going to discuss that. But, the reason I'm bringing up the men here is because of their close friendship. Holmwood, Morris and Seward served together in Korea, for crying out loud.
Excuse me?Yeah, I know. It makes the book sound more like it's taking place in the 1960s or 1970s than the 1890s, but that makes it all the better. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The name's Plissken. Stoker making these men brothers-in-arms (in more ways than one!) adds a fine nuance to the novel. People who have fought together have a unique bond and trust with each other, and I think that makes these men in particular teaming up again once more - all the more potent. They unconsciously fall into their old rapport and positions, and, led by Van Helsing, make a stellar team.
Mina says that perhaps we are the instruments of ultimate good.MONEYAs I was reading this book, I was thinking "rich people." *shaking my head* Then I was so surprised and pleased when Stoker chose to mention this not ONCE, but TWICE.
Thank God! this is the country where bribery can do anything, and we are well supplied with money. 88%and
Oh, it did me good to see the way that these brave men worked. How can women help loving men when they are so earnest, and so true, and so brave! And, too, it made me think of the wonderful power of money! What can it not do when it is properly applied; and what might it do when basely used! I felt so thankful that Lord Godalming is rich, and that both he and Mr. Morris, who also has plenty of money, are willing to spend it so freely. For if they did not, our little expedition could not start, either so promptly or so well equipped, as it will within another hour. 93%So it IS mentioned. Being
brave and willing to die fighting vampires is one thing, but it's almost worthless without money for supplies, transportation, and constantly bribing people for information the way our heroes had to in this book. I'm so proud of Stoker for bringing this up. Good job!BLOOD SUCKING VS. TRUE HORRORAnyone who knows me knows that I hate HATE erotic bloodsucking. However, I did not find the bloodsucking in this novel to be erotic at all, and therefore was undisturbed by it. I know that in 1897 this would be considered very erotic bloodsucking - but in 2015, to a pretty jaded vampire-fiction-reader, not so much. This was a relief to me, I was able to read the blood-sucking sections of the book without being too grossed out. It was more like animals feeding than anything sexual.However, this book DID surprise me by making me genuinely horrified and grossed out. But it wasn't the bloodsucking, it was the vampire killing. I have a real thing, apparently, against mutilating and desecrating dead bodies. The scenes of "we're going to open up her coffin! We're going to stake her through the heart! Then chop off her head, cut out her heart, and stuff her mouth with garlic!" were making me ill. It was very horrifying and gross to me. I felt like they were violating the corpses and violating the very sanctity of death by doing this. I was rather shocked, I had no idea I even thought sanctity of death was a belief of mine until they were gleefully beheading cadavers. o.OAnyway, that was the true horror of the novel in my eyes. Not the vampires.CARNAL VS. PURE; LUCY & MINA VS. THE BRIDESOh my gosh, Stoker never shuts up about women being either pure angels of mercy or carnal wanton beasts that need to be destroyed. Madonna/whore complex TO THE MAX in this novel. Very frustrating.
When the Brides approach the men seductively, the men are all over that. Jonathan is ready to strip down and party when the brides show up kneeling in front of him and licking their lips seductively, and Van Helsing himself is not unaffected. They totally want those women on some level. But if it's Lucy or Mina or a woman who is supposed to be their "pure wife and mother stereotype," the men react with revulsion and disgust when lustful tendencies are shown. Good luck on Jonathan and Mina ever reproducing if Jonathan's reaction to Mina coming on to him is one of horror and revulsion. He probably only wants to have sex with all the lights off and missionary position, ten-thrusts-and-then-roll-off-her kind of thing. Probably with his eyes screwed shut the whole time. Poor Mina. I told her not to marry that ninny! And Lucy, goodness gracious. She was a bit sexual even as a "pure maiden," fantasizing about marrying three men at a time and shit, thank goodness she (view spoiler) [died (hide spoiler)]before having sex with Holmwood. I can't imagine she'd be happy in that marriage. He called her fat - what an asshole!And you are going to be SO SICK of the word "voluptuous" by the end of the novel. Stoker uses this word 12 times in this novel and it gets seriously annoying. Sometimes it's multiple times on the same page. It's as if he doesn't know of another word to describe a sexual woman. Which is weird, because to me this more describes a certain body type than an attitude, but I looked it up in MW and it says that one meaning of the word is "giving pleasure to the senses," so I guess it works.
I am alone in the castle with those awful women. Faugh! Mina is a woman, and there is naught in common. They are devils of the Pit!
I shall not remain alone with them...MODERN STYLEThis book is very readable, quotable, and enjoyable. I'm always rather hesitant to pick up a book considered a classic and written over a hundred years ago, but Stoker delivers. He uses a lot of modern wording and phrases, the book absolutely speeds along - it's never boring and he doesn't get bogged down describing the scenery for 10 pages.That being said, I learned a lot of new words reading this: it was a veritable treasure trove of vocabulary. Here's my list: Foreknowledge, missal, unpunctual, prepossessing, perforce, patronymic, saturnine, demoniac (not demonic, demoniac!), militate, fastness, outrider, fain, expostulate, adduce, agglomeration, defibrinate, trituration, presage, remonstrate, enjealous, impressment, decoction, quondam, ingress, stertorous (this is another word Stoker is hugely fond of. He uses it 9 times - get used to seeing it!), intestacy, tussock, interstice, pabulum, importunate, adduce, lugubrious, arrogate, and odium. Wow! Look at how much richer my vocabulary is now! I am a rich woman! Yay! *does a vocabulary dance*
I am too miserable, too low-spirited, too sick of the world and all in it, including life itself, that I would not care if I heard this moment the flapping of the wings of the angel of death.PRO-CATHOLIC
Bless that good, good woman who hung the crucifix round my neck! for it is a comfort and a strength to me whenever I touch it. It is odd that a thing which I have been taught to regard with disfavour and as idolatrous should in a time of loneliness and trouble be of help. Is that there is something in the essence of the thing itself, or that it is a medium, a tangible help, in conveying memories of sympathy and comfort?This book is strongly pro-Catholic and Catholic doctrine and beliefs are presented as the truth. Notice Van Helsing's liberal use of the Host (Wafers) - he hands them out like candy. Holy water. Etc. Even noted Protestants like Harker are wearing crucifixes by the end of the novel. I don't think this is proselytizing, exactly, but there's definitely a strong Catholic flavor and undertone to the novel. "A sensible Protestant (Harker), how can he be caught up in all this primitive Catholic superstitious madness?!!?" is pretty much the entire first third of the book. Of course, Catholicism wins the day and provides Harker and his friends with the strength and tools to defeat evil, so ending the novel on a strong pro-Catholic note.Some people claim that this book is anti-Semitic - I don't feel that it is. But one of the most enjoyable things about Dracula is that everyone reads the book differently and brings their own interpretations and experiences to the text. It's been claimed as anti-Semitic, queer, homophobic, sexual, anti-sex, feminist, anti-feminist, etc. etc. etc. Dracula and the people who fight him can be stand-ins for anything and anybody, apparently. Choose your own hot points after reading the novel. :) It's fun. You can see I chose "feminist" and "pro-Catholic," but - much like the Bible - you can twist and turn the text until it says what you WANT it to say. ;)
He might kill me, but death now seemed the happier choice of evils.DRACULA IS A PETTY ASSHOLEI expected him to be the King of Vampires, not someone who enjoys playing mind games with poor nitwit Jonathan Harker. I mean, some of the things Dracula did in this novel were obviously just because he enjoys messing with Harker and tormenting him. *rolls eyes* Not exactly strong, commanding, Children-of-the-Night behavior, IMO.ATROCIOUS DIALECTPlease beware that whenever any of the gang is talking to someone from the lower classes, the person will speak like this:
"These bans an' wafts an' boh-ghosts an' barguests and bogles an' all anent them is only fit to set bairns an' dizzy women a-belderin'. They be nowt but air-blebs! They, an' all grims an'signs an' warnin's, be all invented by parsons an' illsome beuk-bodies an' railway touters to skeer an' scunner hafflin's, an' to get folks to do somethin' that they don't other incline to do."I have close to zero tolerance for this shit. I find it HIGHLY annoying. And what's even worse is that Stoker doesn't have to do it. Van Helsing speaks in a very distinct and "foreign" type of English, and yet Stoker never resorts to breaking down his words into atrociously spelled ones. Here's an example of how Van Helsing speaks:
"He throws no shadow; he make in the mirror no reflect... He has the strength of many in his hand... He can transform himself to wolf... he can be as bat... He can come in mist which he create... He come on moonlight rays as elemental dust.. He become so small... He can, when once he find his way, come out from anything or into anything, no matter how close it be bound or even fused up with fire..."In this way, Van Helsing's distinctive voice was made clear - I could ALWAYS tell at once if he was speaking or narrating, but yet Stoker never writes out his accent in some bizarro way. I wish he'd done that for the working-class side characters! Tl;dr - SO EXCELLENT. I am so happy that I own a copy, it is going to be read and re-read over and over again, I can tell you that. I was so happy and pleased with this book - and it's so hit-or-miss with classics that I had no idea what to expect.I highly recommend this to anyone who has an interest in it.
"Dr. Van Helsing, are you mad?"...
"Would that I were!" he said. "Madness were easy to bear compared with a truth like this."Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha! Happy Halloween! :)P.S. Dracula has a MUSTACHE. How come that's never shown in any film?!?!?!?!P.P.S. Hey, I found something REALLY COOL. This is a National Geographic feature on a Romanian people living in the Carpathians and in the Transylvanian Alps etc. They are called the Csángó people.Here at this site:
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm...You can read about them, see pictures of them, and hear them sing. It will really give you a more vivid and nuanced picture of what Jonathan Harker is seeing and hearing while traveling through Transylvania.Make sure to check out the left side in order to access Photo Gallery and Multimedia (where you can hear them singing!). Also, Map.
Oh, and if you click (also on the left) Sights and Sounds: Experience life with Romania's Csángós - you can watch videos explaining stuff to you. WOW!...more