Bram (Abraham) Stoker was born in November 1847. He lived in Dublin. He was the third of seven children of a civil servant at the Dublin castle. He attended a private day school near his home and at sixteen he started at Trinity college, Dublin. Remarkably, because as a child he had been ill a lot, he became the university athletics champion, an unbeatable roadwalker and footballer. He studied pure mathematics, was active in the Philosophical Society and even became their president. After university he became a clerk in the civil service in 1870, but was more interested in theatre and the next year he started writing theatre reviews and short stories.
In 1878 Henry Irving appointed him business manager at London’s Lyceum Theatre. Also in that year he married the twenty-year-old Florence Balcombe, after winning her hand from Oscar Wilde. With Irving he travelled several times to America and Canada. In 1897, his most famous novel, Dracula, was published.
Other books he wrote are: The snake’s pass (1891); The mystery of the sea (1902); The jewel of the seven stars (1904); Personal reminiscences of H. Irving (1906); The lady of the shroud (1909); Famous Impostors (1910); The lair of the white worm (1911); Dracula’s Guest (1914).
In 1905 Bram Stoker suffered a stroke, after which he continued writing. He died on the 20th of April 1912, in London, survived by his wife and only child Noel.
Dracula: The Book
Count Dracula, a vampire, the master of vampires, lives in his castle in the Carpathians, but wants to move to London, so he buys several houses there and has a young English lawyer, named Jonathan Harker, come to his castle to handle all the legal matters. Soon Jonathan finds himself held captive in the castle and starts finding out about the morbid habits and evil plans of his host. He manages to escape and reaches a nunnery where the nuns take care of him and send for his fiancée Mina Murray to marry him there. When the couple returns, Dracula has already arrived in London. One of Dracula’s first preys is Mina’s noble friend Lucy Westenra. Because Dr Jack Seward, one of Lucies three admirers and her doctor, does not know that to do with the weakening Lucy, he sends for his friend and mentor Dr Abraham Van Helsing. Van Helsing recognizes the symptoms and does everything to save her,but his efforts are in vain. Lucy turns into a vampire. With the help of Lucy’s other admirers, the Texan Quincey Morris and Hon. Arthur Holmwood Van Hellsing, Seward and the Harkers start the hunt for count Dracula, a spectacular quest in which Mina is almost lost to vampirism and Quincey dies saving humanity.
The book is not one continuous whole, it is a compilation of cuttings from newspapers, fragments of diaries, letters, journals and telegrams from Mina, Jonathan, Lucy, Arthur, Quincey, Jack and Dr Van Helsing, together telling the story from their point of view more or less in chronological order.
Even though Dracula is considered one of the most, or the most important story on vampires, Stoker’s vampire is somewhat different from the vampires in other books, movies and stories. The most important difference is that Stoker’s vampire can survive daylight; his powers just lessen a bit. Another is that vampires must usually sleep in coffins but Stoker’s has to sleep in the soil from his homeland.
I noticed the author’s peculiar vision on how women should behave: Mina is constantly being told what a wonderful wife she is just because she types out her husband’s notes. Further I noticed how unrealistically easy the characters get things done just by using Arthur’s title. Both things probably were normal at the time the book was written.
I liked the book. Probably because I like vampires in general and this is one of the major books on vampires. Sometimes it was a bit too slow, but that was totally compensated by Stoker’s fantasy.
I found it difficult to find a moral in the story. I noticed that the dutiful Mina survives Dracula, while Lucy, with a more epicurian lifestyle, dies. The same can probably be said for the death of Quincey, being braver but thinking less, or even being an American, opposite to the other more cautious and European men.
The persons of whom parts of, for example, diaries are included are:
Jonathan Harker: a young lawyer, engaged and later married with Mina Murray. He is sent to count Dracula’s castle, where he is held captive for a while. When he went to Transsylvania he was self-confident with his new job and his assignment. Further in his journey to the castle his self-confidence weakens, especially at the point where he is waiting in a couch and the Transsylvanian residents learn of his destination, start crossing themselves and give garlic and a crucifix. Later he focusses only on destroying the count to save his love Mina.
Mina Murray: later Mina Harker, a young schoolmistress who marries Jonathan. She almost turns into a vampire after having some sort of relationship with the count. Her vision of being a good wife consists mainly of doing everything for her husband she thinks he can not do himself like typing out all of his notes on a typewriter, a device which is considered rather modern in the book.
Lucy Westenra: a noblewoman and childhood friend to Mina. Her vision of the use of marriage is different from Mina’s: she likes the (physical-) love-part better than the serving-part. She is adored by at least three men: Arthur Holmwood, Quincey Morris and Jack Seward. She finds it very difficult to choose which of the three to marry. After frequently meeting Dracula and a long period of weakening she dies and turns into a vampire. Just before her death she marries Arthur.
Dr Jack Seward: A young docter, despite his age already in charge of a lunatic asylum. He is one of the suitors of Lucy. Even when Lucy chooses Arthur instead of him he saves no effort and risks his life to revenge Lucy’s murder.
Dr Abraham Van Helsing: a Dutch docter, friend and mentor to Jack, who knows a lot on the subject more unusual facets of science and provides the group with his knowledge on the field of vampires. The totally supports Mina’s opinion the duties on marriage and keeps telling her and everyone that he does. During the story his English grows worse and worse.
Other persons whose writings are not included in the book, but who are important in the story are:
Arthur Holmwood: later named Lord Godalming, one of the suitors of Lucy and later her husband and a good friend to Quincey and Jack. His title proves very useful for getting services, information and lots of other things. After the death of his wife the only thing he lives for is the revenge of her most unnatural death.
Quincey Morris: a rich Texan, usually carrying a big knife, one of Lucy’s suitors and a good friend to Jack and Arthur. As he is very brave he stand in front while revenging Lucy.He perishes while fighting count Dracula.
Count Dracula: when he lived, a couple of hundreds of years ago, he was a knight battling the Turks. When his beloved committed suicide on hearing that he had died, he abandoned the church and became a vampire. Now, after having resided in his castle in Transsylvania for a very long time, he moves to London to find new prey there.
Andere boeken van deze auteur:
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