October 31, 2009

Dracula by Bram Stoker: Review (audiobook)

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Just for fun this week I downloaded Simply Audiobook's free (for October) version of Bram Stoker's Dracula . It is Halloween after all and what better way to get in the spirit than read an old gothic horror story.

You know who Dracula is so I won't go into the details. In the novel, we meet the famous vampire in Romania before he travels to England and causes a lot of trouble for our group of heros: Jonathan and Mina Harker, Lucy Westerna, Van Helsing and company. The group chases Dracula over England and back to the Carpathians trying to destroy the monster before he changes more victims into the undead.

The story is told through letters, diaries and newspaper clippings. I found that Jonathan's diary of his time in the Carpathians to be the most interesting part of the book. It was very atmospheric. Stoker built up a great deal of tension. Jonathan is trapped in the castle while he watches the bizarre behaviour of the Count and slowly realizes that he is living with a monster.

Then when the story comes to England it loses some of that intensity. It's all about protecting the women-folk. I do have to give Stoker credit for Mina's character. He could have made her completely helpless but she does hold her own and even gets to use a gun. Though it is obvious what he and Victorian men think of women. The English ladies are "pure" (even the married ones) but when changed by the Count they are "voluptuous" and the men are both appalled and attracted. They just couldn't handle a sexually aggressive female. ("Is that an ankle?" *Riots. Looting!!*)


If the women get sexy as vampires, Dracula is painted quite differently. He's monstrous. And he can change form: a bat, a wolf, mist. Take that Edward Cullen! Dracula's a bad ass. He's the big bad foreigner come to steal the women.We could go on and on about Victorian's xenophobic tendencies and other hang ups but let's focus on the fun parts.

Dracula is over the top melodrama with the gasping and the swooning. No wonder it's been adapted for stage and screen even a ballet, not to mention parodied over and over again. That's what makes it so entertaining. You just got to go with it. If nothing else, it's a glimpse into the past at the beginning of the vampire fixation.

11 comments :

  1. I never knew until this year that Dracula is told through letters, diaries, etc. I may try to read it.

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  2. A ballet? Really? Great review, and good timing with it!

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  3. Huh, I didn't know it was adapted into a ballet. Neat.

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  4. I really need to read this one of these days! I have owned it forever.

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  5. I was actually quite surprised to find he could change to mist and wolf and he could crawl walls. Well, also how he couldn't cross water and needs to sleep in some special soil. He has a lot of interesting quirks :)

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  6. I too have a certain love for the original and what a great choice for Halloween!

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  7. Not ROMANIA, Translyvania. It's even more foreign than that.

    I did think Stoker made Mina pretty weak -- she was strong until a certain point and then she was in need of protection. Bothered me.

    Actually the whole thing bothered me. It was way to much for me. But if I ever revisit it, I'll make sure I read it as a joke. Then maybe the cutting off heads won't be so disturbing to me. And the horrible writing won't distract me...And....I could go on...

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  8. Rebecca- Guess I missed that while listening. If you ever do try it again, maybe listening to it on audiobook might be the way to go. The guy who narrated it was quite entertaining.

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  9. I listened to the free librivox recording. the narrator(s) were horrible. It did make it much much worse.

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  10. Heidenkind- It is entertaining if you don't take it too seriously.

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