my take on things - comments about all the world and his brother
Published on December 9, 2009 By utemia In Books

I was in the hospital recently for 3 days and had decided to take a good book along as reading is a really great way to pass time - and I chose Dracula. I hadn't actually read the book even though I had to read literature journals about the role of woman in the victorian society, the function of the monster, sexuality and eroticism in gothic novels, and about vampires as a gothic creation that stood for the monster that was allowed to do everythings that wasn't in the prude victorian society.

I knew the story before I read it of course - most people do. There was an amazing film based on the novel made in 1992, and Roman Polanski had made a fabulous parody of the theme with his "Dance of the Vampires".

The book is made up of jounral and diary entries, letters, log books and news paper clips, always told from the different perspectives of the main characters, Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker, Lucy Westenra and Dr. Seward. Famou Dr. van Helsing is quoted and mentioned, as are several others. The different characters do not know each other in the beginning but as the plot thickens it all comes together. The way the story does that is really well done. And it is full of suspense - it isn't really a horror story for most of the time, more like a mystery novel about an unlikely group of people that meet under unusual circumstances and then decide to fight monsters. The language is cool - at least I think so - victorian english simply has style. The only thing that was a bit annoying was the way the men treat Mina after they all first met. Hunting monsters would be too much for her and so they decide that she can't join in on the fun. Woman as fragile beeings that a prone to hysteria - that is so old fashioned. The erotic undertones that can be found in the book if one looks for it are very very subtly - but as my english prof put it: subtle means sex in 19th century literature (he said that in regards to Kate Chopin's novel "The Awakening").

It was especially fun to read the book to cleanse myself from anything Twilight related. That series is the most dumb drivel I have come across recently. I do not know why it is so popular. Vampires that glitter in the sun, are chaste (duh) and shallow teenagers.. bleh. First person narration just makes the whole thing more irritating. I admit that I have only read about the half of the first book, then I couldn't stand it any more. *shudder*

Vampires are not chaste boring beings that are not evil on top of everything. They are monsters, and even though there are ambivalent figures in vampire literature (eg Anne Rice's novels) that try to retain their humanity and morality, they ultimately all fail. "Interview with a Vampire" is a good story example for that. Brad Pitt looked hot in the movie as well lol

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a good book with alot of suspense, great language and a thrilling plot. The book starts off with the story of Jonathan Harker in Transylvania where he meets Count Dracula .. it is a literature classic. The 1992 film is very good as well.


Comments (Page 1)
on Dec 09, 2009

The last book I read was an interesting piece by Thomas Frank, One Market Under God.

 

~AJ

on Dec 11, 2009

Vampires are not chaste boring beings that are not evil on top of everything. They are monsters, and even though there are ambivalent figures in vampire literature (eg Anne Rice's novels) that try to retain their humanity and morality, they ultimately all fail.

Ruthie Marie...they are not real.  They are fictional entities made up out of whole cloth for the entertainment and thrills of the readers.  So...that being true...who sets the standards for what is a "true vampire" and which ones are phony? 

on Dec 11, 2009

You're real funny, BFD. I know that.

Who sets the standards? Well for one, the reader. Something that would have been boring would not have been so successful (Dracula is not boring). Then there is tradition and literary history that give you an idea of how a character was created and how it developed. Of course, literary freedom is privilege of any author and they can do whatever their fantasy and creativity allows them to do.

Vampires are also part of east slavic mythology and Bram Stoker did not invent the whole concept. He studied mythology and folkore for years before he wrote his book. And in mythology, vampires are creatures of the night, monsters with supernatural powers that live off blood and rise from their grave. There are studies to the origin of such beliefs (how monsters are created in general) and it's mostly a personification of the unknown, of everything that is not allowed - a figure that can be blamed for unexplained accidents, tragedies etc.

Monsters are beings that are not held by societal standards, they do whatever they please. That is one reason why they are popular because they are not restrained by any rules. If you lived in a time and society that had a lot of restriction (especially sexual ones) it was very appealing to write about a monster that simply acted above all that - victorian gothic literature in a nutshell.

I rewatched the movie last night.  Count Dracula in the movie is not always acting like a monster. I felt compassion for Dracula even though he is evil and kills babies among other things. That was a stroke of genius by Coppola because in his interpretation Dracula became a monster due to a broken heart, and in the very end love gives him back his soul and he rests at peace. An ambivalent Dracula, evil but not despisable and not beyond redemption - definitly not boring.

And it is very boring and dull to read a book or watch a movie about a monster that isn't interesting.

I thought the vampires in "Twilight" are stupid, riddiculous and boring. That's my personal standard - it really annoyed me. It was written in first person narration, and I could only take so many versions of "I couldn't believe that this perfect creature was interested in me" "He had such a perfectly sculpted body" "His eyes were piercing me" etc.  before it became too much. Honestly, I don't think you would make it as far as I did. I dare you to read it. (kidding)

There is no such thing as a "true vampire" - there are many variations in the genre. But what the successful ones all have in common is a certain character depth, a personification that keeps you as the reader (or watcher) interested in them. It has to be entertaining which does not exclude complex topics like morality and love etc.  I really do not understand how that series became so popular, not from what I've read.

On the other hand, I can understand why it might be fascinating for young woman and girls to read the series. It is about otherness, about experiencing something extrodinary, knowing things nobody else does.. it is probably a dream many have, to be special in that way. Then there is first love, it appeals as well. And if millions of young people started reading because of it, it is a very positive thing. Reading is important and to interest young people in books is always good. Maybe they pick up another book after finishing that one - reading broadens your horizon. And there are many many great books out there.

on Dec 11, 2009

non-Technical?  Paul of Dune.  If you have not read the Herbert (Frank and Brian, along with Kevin Anderson) series, I highly recommend it.

on Dec 11, 2009

Split Infinity by Piers Anthony.

Saw it on a Goodwill shelf along with 2 sequels and grabbed them up. I read it when I was a teenager and rereading it as an adult is still enjoyable but you can clearly see that he's aiming his material straight at teenage boys.

To the OP - Dracula is a great book. I remember picking it up in a college library just because it was on a paperback swivel stand and I was just going to read the first little bit to see if it was any good. Couldn't put it down. Have read 2 or 3 times now.

Another book I would suggest in the 'we all know the story but have never read the book' genre is The Three Musketeers. Classic adventure well told.

on Dec 12, 2009

You said that something that is boring won't be successful then say that the Twilight books are boring.  But they are screamingly successful!  Beauty is in the eye of the reader and there is a market for these modified demons, apparently, among the more youthful readers.  

But I agree with you, kiddo, just pulling your leg about "real vampires".  

I always think of the Frankenstein monster when this kind of discussion comes up.  In the original book, he was much different than the way he was portrayed in the early movies.  He evolved into an intelligent but tragic figure who wound up with a finer moral compass than his creator.  Not like the phony monsters from Hollywood!

No.  I won't read the Twilight books.  Won't see the movies.  There are too many books around to be able to read them all, why spend time on crap like that?  And I am with Doc about the Dune series (only up to the first three), for a fantasy world...universe...so compelling that you get to the end of the first book (two inches thick in paperback) wanting more.  Well written, original concepts, NOT boring.

on Dec 12, 2009

I've heard of the Dune series from Herbert, but never read it. Thanks for the rec.

Monsters are an interesting literature study field. (If I remembere correctly, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is a social critique of sorts, a warning against uninhibited ambition and hybris) In alot of literature, they are more diverse and complex than the phony way Hollywood likes to portray them these days, I think so too. But there are differences in movies regarding that as well. Have you seen Alien? The real monster isn't the alien there either, but the company that sent them on their trip - and the android (it's been a while since I saw the film). The alien creature just does what it does, what any living thing does. It wants to survive - that isn't necessarily evil.

My last 2 cents regarding Twilight: Some things become successful without a good reason for it (it can't have been the quality of the writing), because vampires and soap operaesque content just don't mix well in my oppinion. That's just the epitome of uncool and probably the reason why so many like it, it's basically a soap opera slash melodrama, just a very bland one despite the vampires and werewolves. Not that melodrama can't be good - Gone with the wind is a great movie for example.

on Dec 12, 2009

But a long and boring book.

on Dec 12, 2009
Didn't figure you to be the sort of person to have read that classic tale of love and woe but I'll take your word for it.
on Dec 22, 2009

They were "old fashioned" ideas about women because, well, it was a long time ago. "Dracula" was written in, what, the 1890s?

The name derives from one Vlad Dracul, known as "Vlad the Impaler", a nobleman in that region in the 1500s; despite what may be believed, Bram Stoker didn't base the character on him, though; he only liked the name.

Not many people are aware of it, but Dracul is seen as a hero in the area. There are statues to him in many cities. As I understand, at least, he had no love of the Muslim Turks--or Muslims in general--and employed a private army which kept them at bay, and protected Christian churches against Muslim attacks and burnings.

If representatives of the Turks came to him, they removed their fezzes, or else he had them nailed to their heads. If they especially displeased him, he had them impaled on narrow spikes, inserted through the anus, and stuck in the ground along the roadside leading to his manor house. Once in the ground, gravity was simply allowed to take its gruesome course.

The last book I read was Glenn Beck's "Arguing with Idiots". Very good read. The last fiction I read was, I believe, "The Godfather Returns", by Mark Winegardner. Pretty good expansion on the Corleone Family saga, and well written, but nowhere near Puzo's original, of course.

My wife dragged me to "New Moon" for her birthday. It was all I could keep to do from clawing my face off. I hated it; terrible. Terrible. So much to go into here, but I'll resist. Here, though, are some hilarious articles on the films from cracked.com:

http://www.cracked.com/article/230_if-new-moon-was-10-times-shorter-100-times-more-honest/

http://www.cracked.com/funny-1552-edward-cullen/

http://www.cracked.com/funny-36-twilight/

on Jul 08, 2010

Well written, original concepts, NOT boring.

Dune is a hands down masterpiece in every way. The closest I've read in terms of depth and quality would be Three, which I wrote myself. Here's a link for anyone interested: www.derelictkoan.com 

Last full read was The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age by Frances Yates which was immensly enjoyable for me, but then I usually enjoy her work.

If they especially displeased him, he had them impaled on narrow spikes, inserted through the anus, and stuck in the ground along the roadside leading to his manor house. Once in the ground, gravity was simply allowed to take its gruesome course.

Jiminy Cricket that is feral.

on Jul 08, 2010

Just finished reading a book containing a collection of Edgar Allen Poe poems / stories. Next in my book case are some math books.. then maybe Lovecraft.

ubernaught

Well written, original concepts, NOT boring.
Dune is a hands down masterpiece in every way. The closest I've read in terms of depth and quality would be Three, which I wrote myself.

I've never read Dune (movie was terrrrrrrribly boring and held my attention for all about 8 minutes) but comparing something you've written to what is regarded as a classic by many seems like a huge shameless plug (I apologize if your book has won a bunch of awards and if you're a very accomplished writer).

on Jul 08, 2010

The Master Sniper (I believe it is called). It was a crappy paperbook that I got for free. Listening to Panserhjerter (translates into something like Hearts of Iron in English) now as an audiobook. Written by Jo Nesbø. Best detective series I have read (excluding Sherlock Holmes ofcourse).

on Jul 08, 2010

For Whom the Bell Tolls - E. Hemingway

It's to the point. It's expletive brilliant.

- Othello

on Jul 08, 2010

comparing something you've written to what is regarded as a classic by many seems like a huge shameless plug

Of course it was (not to mention tongue in cheek) and you have no need to apologize, I just thought the people here might be interested in what I do as I've been posting here a lot over the last few years. Thinking about it afterward though, I reckon I should have just started my own thread so to avoid upsetting people like yourself. So sorry about that, what can say, I truly love Dune and enjoy my own work as well No shame in that, quite the opposite in fact.

You really should read Dune though, it is a masterpiece.

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