With the reading of Dracula concluded, the Guides will spend the week discussing the novel in roundtable format. This is the first of four parts.
What were your exceptions going in? Did the novel meet or defy them?
Matthew Baldwin: Having previously read a number of olde tymey adventure novels (Frankenstein, Man in the Iron Mask, and even Moby Dick to some degree), I expected there to be a fair amount of action embedded in long, florid, and somewhat dull (to my tastes) passages, along with occasional digressions that dead-end in a cul-de-sac of superfluousness. So I was kind of surprised that the story was mostly linear and focused. If anything, it was a bit too focused, with Van Helsing often using an astonishing quantity of verbiage and time to divulge even the most mundane of details. Sometimes it was like listening to a guy who is way too enthusiastic about a hobby go on and on about it.
Kevin Fanning: I touched on this a little in my first post, but this book really went against my expectations. I haven’t read a lot of Victorian literature, so I was expected something really sterile and dry, nowhere near the level of vampire gore I’m used to. So I was really extremely surprised by how quickly it gets genuinely creepy. When this book is good, it’s extremely good.
MB: The amazing qualities of the first four chapters almost worked against the novel, as their promise of a real potboiler was not always fulfilled. But I thought it was pretty engrossing through-and-through.
Claire Zulkey: I remember enjoying it the first time I read it which I think was in late grade school or early high school. Both times I marveled at the concept of having the story be told only in correspondence, memos, official documents and published stories.
I do remember not enjoying the last third of the book as much as the first two and a few people who had read the book recently also felt that way, so I was surprised to find that I actually was more into the book towards the end than last time, neverending monologues from Van Helsing not withstanding.
KF: But I will cast my lot in with those who are disappointed with the last third of the book. It was a bit of a slog at the end, but I was delighted that it wasn’t a slog all the way through.
MB: Yes, I don’t fault the many filmmakers who, in adapting the book for the screen, have felt the need to “punch up” the ending a tad.
KF: I tried to rent Bram Stoker’s Dracula this weekend but it was all rented out. Super sad. I really cannot wait to see it again.
CZ: In case you were wondering what happens in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” that does not happen in the book, here are a few:
- Mina hooks up with Dracula.
- Mina hooks up with Van Helsing.
- Dracula cries like a baby when Mina gets married although you’d think that since he is already the undead evil conventions like marriage wouldn’t matter to him.
- Dr. Seward hooks up with Lucy
- Lucy gets boned, big time, by Dracula as a wolf-man.
There are more but those are a few standouts.