Perhaps it was the picture of Robert Pattinson in my last post, but this week’s cameo is all about Vampires. Actually it’s about that amazing grand-daddy of vampires: Bram Stoker. (Bram? What kind of name is Bram? It’s short for Abraham. Don’t be mean.)
Bram Stoker wrote the original 1897 novel Dracula, from whence all later vampire novels and movies have wended their sparkly way. Actually, this isn’t entirely true – before Stoker’s novel there were other vampire stories, but his was so incredible that everyone everywhere just said Hells yes! This is how we’ll all think about vampires from now on.
Now, if you haven’t read Stoker’s work yet, put it on your TBR list. Wa-a-ay up there. Because, while it is written in that fairly unfashionable epistolary style (diary entries and letters), this is a work that packs a punch. It’s actually scary.
|Dracula: It's so scary, that it can afford to be sunflower yellow|
There are scenes in it that will give you chills, as long as you’re paying attention. Parts of it are like... well, remember when you first read The Shining? And there’s that scene, where Jack is out walking in the desolate hotel grounds, and there are all those topiary hedge animals, and out the corner of his eyes he sees....
Oh golly. Give me a second.
Anyway, that’s a scary-ass scene. I can’t even remember whether they put it in the film adaptation, but I don’t think they could have made it as scary as King wrote it. And parts of Stoker’s Dracula are like that.
A little about Bram Stoker
Stoker was born in 1847 (making him 50 when Dracula was published). He was involved in theatre for much of his early life, first as a critic and later as the acting-manager, and later business manager, of the Lyceum Theatre in London. He travelled a lot in those roles, although never to Eastern Europe. "Write what you know" be damned, eh?
Stoker was a distant relative of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and a fan of Walt Whitman in particular and Americans in general. One of his most heroic characters, Quincey Morris, is an All-American fellow (he proved his heroic status by dying a spectacular and noble death, while avenging his beloved).
OK, back to Dracula
Stoker researched for several years to write his definitive vampire novel. Originally entitled The Un-Dead (thank heavens for working titles), the book’s name was changed at a late stage to Dracula. It has become universally renowned for bringing a new consciousness of vampiric literature to the gothic-loving Victorian reader.
A few statistics:
Body count, in order of grisly death:
- The entire crew of the Russian ship Demeter, including the captain, whose body is found lashed to the ship’s helm (a nice touch)
- Mrs Westenra. She dies of fright when a wolf attacks her. This is a kind fate, on the whole, considering the story of her daughter Lucy...
- Lucy Westenra. After starting out quite well in the story – three men propose to her on the same day – she ends up en-vamped, dead, come alive again, staked through the heart, mouth stuffed with garlic, and beheaded. Sounds like something that might happen on a particularly competitive episode of MasterChef.
- Dracula’s three brides. Killed by Van Helsing for no particular reason than being slightly slutty.
- Dracula himself. He is stabbed with a Bowie knife, through the heart. An early example of strategic product placement? Perhaps.
- Quincey Morris, who (as mentioned earlier) suffered a mortal wound at the hand of a gypsy.
Necks bitten, in order of smexy-ness:
- Lucy Westenra. She was bitten and infected by Dracula in the guise of a wolf, so not very smexy
- Mina Harker. Bitten on several occasions, one of which is described in erotic detail (for the era) in Stoker’s book.
And last but not least, Stoker wins a Steam&Ink award for introducing us to Abraham van Helsing, who comes across as quite bookish and nerdy in Dracula, but in the ensuing decades has rocketed up the charm spectrum, to turn out like THIS: