After enjoying a mini-group read of Dracula here on BGO I saw this Bram Stoker book described as ‘The Mother of all Mummy Stories’ and thought it worth trying. It turned out to be strange and rather hard going.
An Egyptologist raids the tomb of an ancient Egyptian Queen, Tera, who may have reigned as a man and a woman and possibly practised black magic. He brings most of the contents including the Mummy, a mummified cat and a fabulous jewel back to England and has them arrayed around his bedroom. He leaves a list of instructions to be carried out, in the event of anything happening to him. Naturally, something does happen to him and it is up to his daughter, her young barrister admirer, father’s old friend and the local doctor to sort things out. Cast list sound familiar, Victorian novel readers?
The story is told in first person narrative by the barrister. The other characters are not really described in any depth and it takes a long time to reach any action. First, the tale of the Egyptian adventures are trawled through, later we are lectured on hieroglyphics, which without illustration is impossible to comprehend, and a strange theory about different light is expounded.
The version I read had a vaguely disturbing ending so I looked for more information and discovered that Bram Stoker had originally written a different ending and had been asked to change it later by the publishers so I read the original version as well.
I wouldn’t recommend buying it, but both versions are available here free.
Note to mods - this was published in 1903 but may fit better in pre-1900 where Dracula is discussed. Please change if necessary.
#1 18th November 2006, 10:02 AM
I finished reading this yesterday and thought I would give it a mention. As we all know this tale follows Jonathan and Mina Harker and their fight to escape the clutches of Count Dracula, ably helped by Arthur, Quincey, John, and Van Helsing.
I first read this when I was about 14, and remember finding it a little scary and quite a dense book to get through, but I did enjoy it. I had to reread it this winter for uni next year and looked forward to seeing if I read it differently. While I still enjoyed it, the adult Hazel, couldn't help but feel saddened by some of the mawkishness.
Unfortunately this is a book that has suffered due to its success. When published the anti-vampire tools such as garlic, running water, invitation, stake through the heart, cutting off the head, bats etc etc would have been fascinating, exotic and thrilling. Now, having seen these kinds of things played to death, they just seem cliched and detract from the story. I tried hard to remove my modern perceptions and remember when this was written.
I found some of Mina's dialogue a little saccharine sweet - but that may just be a sociocultural thing.
It's still a fabulous read and the characters are engaging and believable, especially John Seward who is the voice of reason. He has aged much better than the rest of the gang. I did very much enjoy this books again, despite my previous moans - it's just unfortunate that it was the blueprint, a precursor to the vampire myths that came after. And the myths we have gotten so used to are such a diluted and comical version of what Stoker set out to create.
#2 18th November 2006, 11:27 AM
I started reading Dracula when I was about 18, but I found it really, really scary and stopped before I got half way through!
Might be tempted to give it another ago, as you have obviously survived the experience. Now did I keep my copy.....or did I get rid of it as quickly as I could, as I was too freaked out to have it on the shelf in my bedroom...
#3 18th November 2006, 07:39 PM
It's really not at all scary now that I am an adult - so don't worry and give it a go!
#4 19th November 2006, 01:47 PM
Hmmmm, am I significantly braver now than I was at the age of 18???? Braver about somethings, and less brave about others, I suspect..... Now which category is Dracula likely to fall into?
(Might give it a try on Listen Again as Meg suggest, at least for the first five minutes, and see how it goes)
#5 19th November 2006, 09:05 PM
I have just listened to last night's episode of Dracula.
I have got to read the book!
#6 20th November 2006, 09:16 AM
Well, I recommend it highly. You may cringe at some of the dialogue but for atmosphere and physical spaces, you can't beat it!
#7 19th November 2006, 11:48 AM
I've never read Dracula and would avoid it for the reasons I've quoted from Hazel. It's one of life's inevitables that you can never understand the impact a 'classic' makes on its first appearance.
On the same lines, I'm always a little sad that I can never know what effect The Beatles had when they first appeared. By the time I heard them, they sounded just like everyone else. Except what I didn't know was that everyone else sounded like them (or tried to). Same with a good story or writing style, it gets copied, re-interpreted and generally filters into our every day vernacular.
#8 19th November 2006, 01:05 PM
As I've mentioned before, I often fall asleep with the radio on and wake in the small hours to find that Radio4 has morphed into the World Service.
Last night I woke to find myself listening to a dramatisation of Dracula**. I had missed about half of part 1, and the concluding part is next Saturday/Sunday.
From the quarter hour or so that I listened it was definitely scary
I'm going to have to find it online to 'Listen Again' not only to hear the beginning that I missed, but also to hear the second half in the daylight!
** That is, a dramatisation of Bram Stoker's book, not some other version of a vampirical horror story, (it has been adapted by Liz Lochhead)
#9 22nd November 2006, 05:00 PM
Another 'best-seller' using Dracula
Haven't read it but tried Elizabeth Kostova's [The Historian] in which there's a search for the mystery of Count Dracula, hidden texts about him etc. Couldn't get beyond page 200. Kostova had her eye on film rights I think. different European location in nearly every chapter. No characterisation. 'International best seller' it says. Humph!.
#10 22nd November 2006, 06:42 PM
Funnily enough, I remember when a few people on BGO tried The Historian, no one liked it. Didn't it win the R&J best read? I didn't enjoy it but like you I only read the first 100 odd pages and gave up.
If you were tempted to read that - why don't you give Dracula a go? It is really rather good, despite suffering from it's success and popularity.