November 1, 2009

Dracula: less sexy than your average True Blood vampire

So for reasons related mostly to my iPhone (more on that later), I've recently been rereading Dracula. I read it once for school back in first-year university, probably the night before the exam, and I remember really enjoying it and finding it impressively creepy. But I was shocked at what I didn't remember, which was most of it: Dracula's moustache, the novel's structure (a collection of diary entries, newspaper articles, letters), the terrifying story of the boat crossing as the sailors are done away with one by one, Van Helsing's conceit of laughter as a king after he is convulsed by uncontrollable mirth:

"Ah, you don't comprehend, friend John. Do not think that I am not sad, though I laugh. See, I have cried even when the laugh did choke me. But no more think that I am all sorry when I cry, for the laugh he come just the same. Keep it always with you that laughter who knock at your door and say, `May I come in?' is not true laughter. No! He is a king, and he come when and how he like. He ask no person, he choose no time of suitability. He say, `I am here.'..."

I've been astounded over and over again by how frightening and absolutely gripping Stoker's novel is, not to mention surprisingly modern. I've been reading it slowly over the past week to get into the Halloween spirit. In other literary Halloween news, last night I dressed up as a character from one of my favourite books, Alice in Wonderland:

In case you're wondering, the cake makes her get bigger.


Jonathan Ball said...

Saleema, I actually just taught Dracula and this week the students' essays on Dracula are due. What surprised me as well was how modern it feels --- and all the technology! When Harker starts telling Dracula about all the photos of the estate he shot with his Kodak, my brain fizzled.

saleema said...

Ah, that's so great that you're doing Dracula in class. I'd be curious to hear some of the students' reactions. As soon as I finish rereading it, I feel like I want to read everything there is about it. And rewatch the Coppola movie, too.

Jonathan Ball said...

My favourite movies based on the book are Maddin's Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary and Herzog's Nosferatu (although the latter is partially a remake of the Murnau film and partially an adaptation of Dracula, so it's very strange). I haven't actually seen the Coppola film, will need to seek it out.