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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

An Original Review of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'

A Review of Bram Stoker’s 'Dracula'

The Bristol, England, Times And Mirror - 8 June 1897

We must confess at the outset that we are not particularly fond of novels cast in diary form. But Mr. Bram Stoker explains that these papers have been place in sequence, and that how this has been done will be manifest to the reader as he proceeds. Jonathan Harker’s journal sets forth, in the first place, his quest for Castle Dracula. The district he had to travel “is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of three States, Transylvania, Moldavia, and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian Mountains, one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe. I was not able to light on any map or work givng the exact locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of this country as yet to compare with our own Ordnance Survey maps; but I found that Bistictz, the post-town named by Count Dracula, is a fairly well-known place.” The author gives us some graphic sketches of the country and its people, and shortly receives a hearty welcome from Count Dracula to his “beautiful land.” But the Count was a mystery. When the landlord was asked by the traveller if he knew Count Dracula, “and could tell me anything of his castle, both he and his wife crossed themselves, and saying they knew nothing at all, simply refused to speak further. It was so near the time of starting that I had no time to ask anyone else, for it was all very mysterious, and not by any means comforting.” Jonathan Harker’s account of his approach to the castle is very powerfully told; but we feel as we read it that we are are getting deeper and deeper into a land of shadows, weird and uncanny. A further acquaintance with Count Dracula certainly does not diminish the mystery which hangs about that person. We wish we had space to quote the very clever piece of writing which reveals the fact that Jonathan Harker, the bearer of the sealed letter from Hawkins, and Count Dracula were the only inhabitants of the castle. “I have only the Count to speak with, and he! I feel I am myself the only living soul within the place. Let me be prosaic, so far as facts can be; it will help me to bear up, and imagination must not run riot with me. If it does I am lost.” To those who are fond of the ghastly and the gruesome, “Dracula” will be welcome reading. The story is cleverly constructed and brilliantly told, and we do not think we can add further praise to the manner in which Mr. Bram Stoker sets forth the mysterious and the awful. – London: Archibald Constable and Co., 2, Whitehall Gardens.

Dracula: Complete, Original Text

Lair of the White Worm

The Lost Novels of Bram Stoker