Today I'll be reviewing a known classic, Dracula by Bram Stoker. Published in 1987, this novel is considered to be the forerunner of vampire novels as such. However, as far as the genre is considered, I see it as a typical example of Gothic novel. Personally, I consider vampire novels to be a subcategory of the Gothic genre. Some put Dracula into other literary categories like horror and invasion genre. While it does contain elements of horror, I think it is best described as a Gothic novel, especially considering the historical context and the period it was first published in. The novel opens with a young English solicitor visiting Count Dracula in Transylvania, and is, for most part, set in two countries: England and Transylvania.
I had originally read this book as an assignment and it turned out to be such a pleasant surprise because Dracula was so much better and felt more genuine than I had expected. When I picked up Dracula, I thought I will like it more for the historical context, then for the writing itself, but I was wrong. This book was revolutionary in many ways, and one needs to give credit where credit is due, but even without taking all that in account, Dracula is a must read. Sure, Dracula is important in terms of setting the conventions for a vampire genre but for us readers, it is equally if not even more important in sense that is a great book- and one that is a lot of fun to read.
The writing impressed me in this one. Written in an epistolary form (letters, diary entries, articles and that sort of thing), the story itself is well paced and developed. The plot is interesting. Young Jonathan becomes the hostage of count Dracula and the story takes it from there. The suspense, once created, is sustained effortlessly right to the end of the novel. The eerie atmosphere soaks the pages. There is something magical about the ease with which Stroker sets the dark tone and the sinister atmosphere need for this gothic book. Dracula is genuinely and wonderfully scary. As far as Gothic horror novels go, this is something you don’t want to miss.
The characters in the novel are legendary for a good reason. Stroker has not only managed to create one of the most memorable villains in the history of literature, he created a cast of characters that is equally impressive. Professor Van Helsing, a very memorable character in his own right, makes for a great team leader. Lucy and Mine, two main female protagonists, are interesting to study and compare. Mina and Jonathan make for a nice couple. The relationship between Mina and Dracula is something worth debating.
This novel has aged better in some ways than others. Gender roles seem outdated, but that’s normal considering this novel was published in 1987. There are some other small details one might mention, but I don’t see the point. Dracula isn't perfect, but it is a very impressive piece of writing. As far as translation to the big and the small screen is concerned, I honesty can’t remember any of the movie versions I’ve seen well enough to comment on any of them.
There are a lot of movies & series based on this book, most of them quite loosely if I’m not mistaken. Dracula seems to have become a part of pop culture and if for nothing else, it is worth reading to see where it all comes from, to find out for ourselves what the fuss was and is about. If you haven’t already, do read the book and see for yourself. Is it really a true classic? Yes, it is. Dracula is, put quite simply, a gem of gothic literature.