DAVID SAUNDERSON begins his journey through the text of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to prepare for a holiday in Transylvania – the home of the original Dracula – Vlad the Impaler!
Today, on the 117th year since its publication, I have begun to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Over the years, I’ve read abridged novels and comic books and seen tonnes of movies, TV shows, cartoons, everything you can think of that basks in the glory of the Prince of Darkness. But I’ve never had the patience to read the original book.
Now I have no choice. I am off to Transylvania in September so my knowledge of the 1897-published classic has to be second to none – or at least a bit better than what it is now.
Over the next 17 weeks, I will reading the novel and reporting on what I discover.
We all should know that the original novel of Dracula has never been filmed. Some very reasonable versions of the book have been filmed but never an authentic version … or so I have been told.
Everything I know about Dracula I’ve learned from books and films that were inspired by the original text – it’s time I find out the truth for myself!
So today I have read the first chapter, which is Jonathon Harker’s Journal. (Dracula is written in the form of letters, diaries etc.)
Harker, a young English lawyer, Jonathon Harker, writes that he’s just left Munich after a weird night of Walpurgisnacht. (Read Dracula’s Guest – Bram Stoker’s prequel to discover more.) Jonathon Harker in Budapest and with much joy discussing his travels so far.
Bram Stoker never visited the places he described in this part of the book and relied on research. The book’s been quite quaint so far in a imperial racism kind of way so far, and shows the excitement Jonathon Harker is having on his exotic business trip. It’s all full of talk about the food, people and customs – not unlike a blog you would read today. Harker stays at the hotel near the Borgo Pass for the night, which Dracula has asked him to do. The next day when he is off to continue his journey, his coach is surrounded by locals who seem genuinely frightened that Harker is off to visit Drac.
I’ve enjoyed the first chapter – it did seem at all old-fashioned and was quite quick to read. From the light-heartedness of the beginning, it soon turned dark as the local pray for Harker’s soul. Whatever will happen next?
Thing I have learned from this chapter: Before I go to Transylvania, I need to “learn a smattering of German” like Jonathon Harker, though learning Romanian would probably be more useful.