ConversesGothic Literature

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oct. 8, 2012, 5:10pm

Why I created this thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/115964#2939435

I'm not, myself, intending to re-read Dracula for a while yet; but I've just mentioned it on the 'Gothic gossip' thread and it seemed to me that the sooner the better for a Dracula thread so that it's here whenever anyone wants it.

This is what I posted on the 'Gothic gossip' thread:

I'm listening to an interesting BBC Radio 4 programme as I write - Was Dracula Irish?. It argues for a lot more roots to the story in Irish history than we generally acknowledge.

According to the web page, there is 'over a year left to listen' at the time of posting.

ETA - Ignore the bit where it says '962 mins'; it doesn't last that long - honest.

oct. 8, 2012, 7:06pm

And before the programme, there was a trailer for a new radio dramatisation of Dracula, to be broadcast next Sunday (the 'classic serial' slot).

nov. 4, 2012, 11:56am

An article in the latest edition of Tartarus Press's Wormwood (no. 19) by Brian J Showers looks into the question of why Stoker didn't write a sequel to Dracula.

There's an argument that Stoker deliberately left the way clear for a sequel - the count's despatched rather perfunctorily (knives to throat and heart) compared to the elaborate ceremony used on vampire-Lucy (and Stoker deleted a final paragraph where Castle Dracula collapsed in apparent sympathy upon the Count's death).

Whilst he cannot say why Stoker didn't write a sequel, Brian does examine and remove the arguments against its being possible: no historical precedent (not true); not justified by the commercial success of Dracula (no, it was a moderate success and had gone into multiple reprintings before the year was out); "Stoker's Autonomous Artistic Expression" - no, even his friends said Stoker wrote for money.

nov. 8, 2012, 4:21pm

Just a more or less random observation to mark Bram Stoker's birthday. In the last few months I've read a couple of stories which use the character of Dracula in an oblique manner, i.e. the 'sinister stranger' who makes the acquaintance of the protagonist turns out to be the Count, or the twist at the end reveals the you-know-what pursuing the hero is ... you-know-who.

Annoyingly, I can't really say any more without identifying the stories in question, and thereby turning this post into a massive *spoiler*. I did wonder though, if this was just a statistical 'blip' in my reading, or if there are a lot of these type of story about.

nov. 9, 2012, 5:27am

#4 - Can I own up to a guilty pleasure? 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer': I thought it was really cleverly written on times and really enjoyed most of it. And the episode your post immediately brought to mind was 'Buffy vs. Dracula'.

I've just looked up the episode's quotes on IMDb. There are some amusing ones there, but not the particular one I wanted. It's a piece where Spike - resident, 'neutered' vampire - sounds off about how Dracula's ego and love of publicity (if I remember right, he calls him a 'publicity hound' or 'fame hound') spoilt it for everyone - that book was Dracula's fault and, since it, everyone knows about stakes and garlic and so forth.

Incidentally, Spike had some of the best lines in the series. My favourite was, "Never liked picket fences anyway. Bloody dangerous things." Unfortunately (or not, depending on your point of view), I suspect Spike and Angel in 'Buffy' were directly responsible for all this 'Twilight' stuff. But that's all off-topic - better stop now.

Editat: nov. 9, 2012, 5:42am

Incidentally, I've read in several places, including the web page I link in #1, that Dracula is the all-time biggest-selling book after the The Bible. I have to admit I'm a little sceptical.

ETA - Um ... strong whiff of déjà vu about this post - apologies if I'm harping on an old bone. Damn, now I have to apologise for a mixed metaphor.

nov. 9, 2012, 6:18am

#6 Dracula is the all-time biggest-selling book after the The Bible.

I have heard that asserted on a number of occasions and by fairly authoritative (i.e. not Wikipedia) sources.

My French colleague however, rejects this and claims that The Three Musketeers is the biggest-selling book after the bible (where "biggest" means largest number of copies).

PS I loved your Spike quote about picket fences.

nov. 9, 2012, 7:45am

I've seen the Quotations of Chairman Mao claimed as the 2nd-most printed book in a couple places. I dunno whether it sold in such huge numbers however - maybe they handed it out for free in a true socialistic spirit?

nov. 9, 2012, 7:54am

Telephone directories have huge runs too, or they used to. Either way: doesn't mean they provide a great reading experience.

nov. 9, 2012, 10:11am

#8 Mao's little red book was handed out free all over the world in the 60s. I remember we had several copies dropped into our letterbox over the years.

nov. 9, 2012, 10:14am

#9 I find that each edition of the phonebook changes ever so slightly making it a fascinating challenge to spot the changes. (Not)

nov. 19, 2012, 4:05pm

The Dublin Book Festiva ended last evening. It ran from 13th to 18th November. Its stated aim is the promotion of literature written by Dublin authors.

When I read the festival programme and attended the festival's main venue where a temporary bookshop had been set up, I was amazed to find that in 2012, the centinary of Bram Stoker's death, there was not a mention of the man nor was there a single copy any of his books available for sale, let alone any copies of the novel that has reputably sold more copies than any other novel in the world. I consider this a major failure of the festival and believe it could be considered an insult to one of Dublin's most famous sons.

I shall be contacting the organisers on this matter.

nov. 19, 2012, 5:33pm

> 12

That does seem a shame, to say the least. An oversight by - I presume - self-consciously highbrow organisers, or a deliberate policy to exclude Stoker?

nov. 19, 2012, 5:43pm

#13 I don't know how you could say such a thing. One would think you were there and noticed that it appears James Joyce is the only author Dublin produced. ;)

As it happens, the only event at the festival that was in anyway related to the Gothic was the session Brian J. Showers organised in the Gutter Bookshop for Longsword by Thomas Leland. You would have enjoyed it. Albert Power and Jarleth Killeen discussed the book and its position in Gothic literature. John Kenny of Albedo1 acted as referee.

It was a great session. If you are on Facebook and have access to the Swan River Press page you can see photographs.

Apparently Longsword pre-dates The Castle of Otranto by three years making it the first Gothic novel to be published.

nov. 19, 2012, 6:04pm

I'm already a "Facebook Friend" of The Swan River Press, as a matter of fact (and disgraced myself with a comment of Ralph Wiggum - level banality this evening.)

I looked at the photos of the Longsword event yesterday, and it did indeed look like an interesting event.

Longsword itself has been purchased but not yet read - like so many of my books, alas. Someone in the Folio Society Devotees group outlined his plan to deal with his unread books a while back - retire immediately, and live forever. I think I'll have to do the same!

nov. 20, 2012, 4:34am

#15 retire immediately, and live forever. I think I'll have to do the same!

I know the feeling.

I have a lovely display of both Swan River Press and Tartarus Press books and most of them are untainted by having been read. I hold my head up as Umberto Eco states that the wealth of a mine is in the in the unmined resource, and consequently the wealth in a library is in the unread books. From that point of view my library is very wealthy.

The thought of retiring immediately is attractive, though living forever could present difficulties.

Editat: nov. 21, 2012, 3:54am

Aquest missatge ha estat suprimit pel seu autor.

maig 24, 2013, 7:35pm

I'd begun to compose something longer but it was disappearing up its own pretentious fundament. I'll just note that two recent BBC documentaries about the music and culture of Britain's teenagers between the end of WWII and the Beatles - "Rock 'n' Roll Britannia" and "Trad Jazz Britannia" - through some light on the curious and much-derided "teenagers" in Hammer's Dracula AD 1972.

I can't claim this as an original observation. Jonathan Rigby in his book English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema had already noted that if their antics have any basis in reality, it was a reality at least 10 years before the setting of the film. However, it was good to see for myself things like the skull ashtrays in the 2i's coffee bar, the keenness for jazz (New Orleans ("Trad") or Bop, but not both), and a degree of violence that, at one and the same time, appears to be both a source of anxiety and complacently laughed off in the media.

The film's structure has also been criticised, with Dracula, resurrected after 100 years, doing nothing but hang around in a de-sanctified church until a van Helsing can despatch him again. I like to think that the events shown in the film are all just a sideshow for Dracula, and in fact he's really busy setting up the massive business empire that he has in The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

ag. 15, 2013, 12:35pm

I've just finished Barbara Belford's Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of Dracula. I've posted a short LT review; the book's okay, I suppose, but I didn't feel it got me at all close to the man.

Can anyone recommend a really good biography of Stoker? I've been looking and suspect there isn't a better one, but ...

ag. 15, 2013, 1:18pm

> 19

I've never read a full-length biography of Stoker. I do have a mental image of the man that's in accord with the passage you quoted in your review, but it's built up from various sources: introductions to sundry editions of Dracula; radio and television documentaries about Dracula, or Stoker, or the Gothic more generally; mentions in works about the 1890's, and so on.

Editat: ag. 17, 2013, 5:34am

After reading a considerable portion of his fiction (and I've now got all the rest here, waiting), I've become quite fascinated and puzzled by the man.

So far, I find his attitudes towards women impossible to pin down. The same thing goes for his attitude towards fiction and fiction-writing.

My impression is that he had a great gift for writing. Yet he never became a really good writer (even Dracula has its flaws - as is widely accepted). Why? Was he not capable of it? What I read in Belford about his thoroughness and work ethic suggests that he had the application to pair with his natural talent to produce something of a really high standard. Did he simply not consider writing important enough - just as a way of earning his bread, perhaps? Yet it's difficult to imagine someone who didn't thoroughly enjoy writing producing a gloriously self-indulgent and rambling patchwork quilt of a novel like The Lady of the Shroud (said he while perpetrating posts like this ...)

I've found answering these questions unexpectedly difficult. I suspect this is not so much that the information isn't out there as that few serious researchers have, so far, regarded Stoker as important enough to be a subject. Yet, if this is the case, one would have thought that, with the academic growth of Gothic studies in recent decades ... perhaps I'm wrong and the potential meat for a doctoral thesis or the like just isn't out there for them.

Or, perhaps, there's a really insightful biography out there that I haven't come across yet ...

ag. 17, 2013, 9:33am

> 21

I don't know. One consideration must be the simple fact that Stoker was so busy with his day job as Irving's business manager (all the Victorians are unbelievably, scarily industrious).

Another may be a matter of temperament. There are some writers whose strength lies in their industry and invention, it "just pours out of them" (I know, it's never that easy!). Dickens was a lot like that, and the structure of his novels has been criticised (because, of course, he wrote them as serials and didn't necessarily know where he was heading, when he started a new one).

If that's how it was for Stoker, then if he'd had more time in which to write he might have written more (much more), but with the same unevenness and flaws that you noted, rather than refining and polishing the works that we do have.

des. 9, 2013, 8:07am

cool what people say about dracula

març 7, 2014, 7:42pm

I think that Jonathan Harker's journal in the first section of 'Dracula' is so brilliant. The move from mundane normality to escalating horror is so effectively done and scares the pants off me every time I read it!

Now, has anyone read the sequel to Dracula by Dacre Stoker (Stoker's great grand nephew) and Ian Holt? It has absolutely atrocious reviews on Amazon! I picked it up for a few pounds in a remainder store, but it remains unread.

març 8, 2014, 6:28am

> 24

I didn't think much of the book, to be honest. What interested me more, around the time of the book's publication, were the press interviews that Dacre Stoker did. It's clear that the family felt and, I got the impression, still feel, that others have benefited financially from Dracula (book and, more importantly, character) when it should have been them.

març 8, 2014, 6:33am

I have to admit that I haven't even considered reading that one. I've never been able to make head or tail of this phrase they use - 'reestablish creative control over' - regarding the original novel, and, in any case, it seems to me a pretty invalid reason for creating a work of fiction - it rather antagonises me, I'm afraid.

març 8, 2014, 6:53am

#26 - ... and, in any case, it seems to me a pretty invalid reason for creating a work of fiction - it rather antagonises me, I'm afraid.

Perhaps I'm being a bit unfair, there. Plenty of people write novels hoping to make money, sell screen rights, and so forth - which I assume is what they were talking about - so who am it to get high and mighty over it?

Still not going to read it any time soon, though ...

març 8, 2014, 7:47am

>25 housefulofpaper: >26 alaudacorax: I wasn't aware that the family felt that way. Bit strange given the length of time since the book was written. At least the original was copyrighted in the UK for 50 years so the family must have seen some benefit from that. However, I was surprised to read a while ago that the book was in the public domain in the USA since its publication as Stoker failed to follow the appropriate copyright procedures.

>26 alaudacorax: I won't probably read it soon either. There's hundreds of other unread books in my house staring at me wistfully from groaning bookshelves that take priority.

març 8, 2014, 8:10am

>28 Rembetis: Rembetis. It was his American publishers who did not follow the correct copyright procedure. They neglected to send copies to the US copyright library.

març 8, 2014, 8:33am

> 29 Thanks, pardon my error!

Does that mean that Universal Studios did not have to pay Stoker for the rights to make Lugosi's Dracula? I have David J Skall's book on Dracula from novel to screen ('Hollywood Gothic') but it's one of the unread books I spoke about earlier.

març 8, 2014, 11:21am

>30 Rembetis: pardon my error!

I had no intention of correcting anything you wrote, simply adding detail to the event. It is quite critical in the family's view as it meant Stoker received nothing from any of the subsequent US copies of his novel or derivative works in the US.

set. 8, 2018, 9:55am

This week, treated myself to an hour long Christopher Lee audio on YouTube of Dracula. He did ALL of the characters, not just the lead ... my hero! This cannot be the full text though, is it? I plan to read it next month cover to cover for the first time ever. Spoilers irrelevant though, since I know about the 3 brides, the babies, the fly guy, the dirt voyage, the stake through the heart and head splicing. What fun! Those sound effects...


set. 9, 2018, 5:54pm

>32 frahealee:

Just listened to this on YouTube. Thanks for the link!

It's not Stoker's text but I think it includes nearly all the incidents in the novel.

The style of the recording sounds quite like the American radio dramas of the same time (the internet has made a lot of these available - oh, and they do sound different from the BBC's radio dramas). Another upload on YouTube shows that this recording more or less matches a 1960s graphic novel version of Dracula...more or less: I wonder if Christopher Lee made the changes himself, to make the dialogue and speech balloons flow better as a vocal performance?

Editat: set. 10, 2018, 7:11pm

>33 housefulofpaper: So happy you had a moment to dive into the murk. Initial expectation was to hear maybe 5-10min. but got 'sucked' in teehee. That mama who kept opening windows and tossing the garlic was a piece of work!

Found free downloads for the ebook of BS's Dracula and also Phantom of the Opera. This offers back-up in case I cannot get a hardcover in my hands by Oct/Nov. I plan to read it over a weekend. Kobo happened to be giving classics away as I'd bought 4/$4CAD (The Monk, Lady Susan by Austen, The Old Curiosity Shop, Nicholas Nickleby). Some are too much for my weakened talons to support, so I hope your beautiful 'paper' collection is enjoyed by your healthy eyes and hands for many years to come. Do NOT take that for granted!! I used to tease my folks relentlessly, and now am paying for it with their genetic 'get'evens'. Ugh.

I succumbed to 84 available to me now, with only 14 left to read. They are terrific resources for my 'find' and 'large font' purposes, when formulating writing projects in the wee hours of the morning. Not a diary gal, so poetry and short fiction keep me amused. Gothic makes for juicy visuals.

Also, we have limited internet usage, so we don't use YouTube as much as we could. It is more for research than entertainment, but something with Christopher Lee is pure (trick or) treat. =) I have not seen many of the oldies films, nor the Hammer films you speak of, so there is lots of ground to make up gradually. Yep, not even Karloff... You are allowed to openly weep for me!

Editat: oct. 30, 2018, 9:10am

Although my ebook/Kobo read was sufficient for finding my way through the story of Dracula, I did listen to a few audiobook versions online, but found it distracting. Some voices were dreadful when trying to invoke the Dutch doctor or Dracula himself (shiver) and some females read male parts which didn't suit. The thing I noticed the most though, was with the audiobook recording, if I had not been following along with the text, the phonetics would have been lost on me. For example, when the 'team' looks for Dracula's home in Piccadilly, there is mention of mews, which I would have heard as 'muse' had I only been listening to the book. I know mew as a sound for a kitten, but did not know the term mews and had to stop to look it up. This happened a few times, and interfered with the flow of the story. It was almost better to misunderstand something, than to stop for simultaneous research. In that way, I'm unsure whether the written word was better than the spoken word in this instance. Homonyms can be so annoying!

Washing my hands of vampires for the time being, and going in search of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947). Boo!

Editat: nov. 8, 2018, 10:35am

Happy Birthday Bram Stoker! I celebrated by adding Dracula to my book list as number 201 =) now that I have been upgraded to lifetime status in my account/profile. Onward and upward. Paradise Lost is next … (202, etc.)

nov. 9, 2018, 8:08am

>36 frahealee:

Damn, missed that. It would have been a good excuse to re-read two or three of his short stories with, perhaps, a half-bottle of wine. What I need on my computers is a 'Gothic authors' birthdays calendar'.

nov. 9, 2018, 12:24pm

>37 alaudacorax: Well, if it was red wine, I hope you let a wee bit dribble down your chin for full effect! =D

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nov. 20, 2018, 7:04am

>39 gregg003:

... and been buried at midnight under a lonely crossroads with a stake through his heart ...

Editat: nov. 29, 2018, 4:58am

nov. 29, 2018, 4:55am

>6 alaudacorax: - ... apologies if I'm harping on an old bone. Damn, now I have to apologise for a mixed metaphor.

I was wrong there, it's not a mixed metaphor. I was just starting to look through this thread and it suddenly came into my head that there's an old Welsh legend about a harpist who makes a harp out of an old bone he finds in a river, which turns out to be the bone of a victim of an undiscovered murder and - I think - the harp sings out for justice and names the killer ... or something like that.

Editat: gen. 10, 2019, 9:30am

Stumbled upon this link today and since I see no The Beetle thread, I will post it here. I am not ready to read it thoroughly yet, until I finish The Beetle (within the next few weeks), but since I finished Dracula only this past October for the first time, it is still fresh in my mind. Likely to forget where (and how) I saw it, so it can hibernate here until I'm ready...


-ps- I found it initially because I looked up something re: Northanger Horrid 9 Tales thingy. Also, The Blood of the Vampire by Florence Marryat (?) was added to my TBR list after glancing around briefly.

Editat: feb. 13, 2019, 8:30pm

I finally found time to get back to this essay comparison. It was helpful to hear comments about Trilby and The Woman in White, both of which are on my 2019TBR list. The first came contained in the Hallowe'en book of 50 stories (ebook) and the second is a New Year splurge hardcover. Twelve months, twelve new books. Last year I waited until Spring and selected eight paperbacks, mostly Canadian Literature, but it included my first Robertson Davies (High Spirits) about ghosts. That led to four more for this year. All of these offshoots help me better understand the classics like Dracula.

Also mentioned in the link;
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
H. Ryder Haggard’s novel She
The Wandering Jew as featured in
Matthew Lewis’s The Monk,
Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner
Polidori’s The Vampyre
Rymer’s Varney the Vampire
George Du Maurier’s Trilby

After finding Dracula palatable, other shorter works were easier to tackle. In reading The Vampire by Neruda, The Vampire Maid by Nisbet, Dracula's Guest, also by Stoker, various vampire culture references became more evident. One thing I had never before noticed was that blood could be obtained from the arm not just the neck. Of course it's always a young lovely lady, never a woman of middle or old age. Is this because the blood and life force brings back a youthful quality, not just nourishment? Like a fountain of youth, literally.

març 3, 2019, 6:36am

>43 frahealee: I didn't read too far into that link because The Beetle sounds like something interesting to read. I've been dodging Dracula in part because my sister said it was very boring and my to read stack certainly wont suffer for the lack. Though I recently heard it was an epistolary novel, and in a youtube commentary on it I heard that it really only works as a book, story wise, I'll give it another look, and see if I can find another copy that isn't printed on decorative mock onion skin pages.

I noticed your list though, Frah, how does Le Belle Dame Sans Merci come up? Is it referring to the poem by Keats?

Enter the Romantics of course. I can never think of Dracula without pondering the vampire/Ricean vampire thing (it's come up a lot since Twilight brought in sparkly vampires), and the ideas that Ann Rice got her vampire aesthetic from Polidori, who got his from Byron, and supposedly Byron wasn't too happy about that. I read Byron's vampire fragment but I don't think I've read all of Polidori's, or the opera is spawned (I think Der Vampyr is the one that's most popular or continuous at this point).

I'm not sure if I'm actually getting anywhere. It's late and I suddenly realize that, but I've been re-thinking some of my old fictions (with a vampire!) and this thread reminded me of the copy of Lord of the Dead I bumped into while my mom and I are organizing. Byron isn't getting a break on this. I kind of really, really hope that Linda Baily does with Byron what she did with Shelley.

març 3, 2019, 10:30am

>45 WeeTurtle:

I recently heard it was an epistolary novel. Not exactly, but the story is told through letters and diary and journal entries. Some of them stretch credulity, with characters scribbling away in extremis.

and in a youtube commentary on it I heard that it really only works as a book, story wise. I don't think I buy that. After its initial success Dracula wasn't a massive hit again until the stage play, which was over 20 years later. In fact, to my mind one of the most interesting things about Dracula is how malleable the story is, what gets left in, and what gets left out, of the various dramatic, audio, cine- and televisual, comic book, and dance adaptations and continuations.

Polidori's story isn't very long but it generated a number of unofficial sequels by other authors (most of them French, it seems). I saw this brand new edition in a bookshop in Strasbourg a couple of weeks ago (maybe my last chance to travel to the Continent pre-Brexit). This includes the continuation by Cyprien Bérard


An English translation available here (I should say I can't read French and I haven't read this, or any other, translation:


The "look inside' function can be used to see the usefull introduction.

Editat: març 4, 2019, 10:32am

>45 WeeTurtle: Yes, it's Keats. I can't really go into detail without spoiling the overall story.

What I will say, is that the person comparing The Beetle to Dracula (popularity and style) became a bit unglued over what he perceived to be excessive sexuality. I was able to read the story, and enjoy the descriptive assault on the senses, without any type of 'turn on' or 'turn off'. It was simply discomfort caused by a very good writer who knows how to bring a setting to life by using all senses equally, not just sight and sound. I loved The Beetle and will happily read more by Marsh.

Dracula was simply a story I have been exposed to my entire life and I was shocked at how good the original actually is (as I was with Frankenstein) and how movie adaptations cannot possibly include everything, so they pick and choose. I enjoyed the original text of Frankenstein and Dracula much more than any film I have seen to date. Lots of fun to explore as many as possible, but full knowledge of the source material is critical, in both cases. I would take Frank over Drac, but that's personal preference. The Beetle is unique but I can see why it was popular to vast waves of readers. Then it all but disappeared, shoved aside by more recent attempts.

Polidori's version, The Vampyre a Tale, was not as intense as I was expecting, thus I felt a bit deflated. The backstory of the author was almost more entertaining than the actual plot. Felt the fire doused after two months of deeply furrowed effort into vampires. I toss them in according to time and availability, rather than a set course of study, which likely hurts not helps. Reading about things often digs into my reading of the thing itself, so I have to deviate from opinion/reviews and just get on with getting things finished. Again, I love the overlap of these stories and authors and timelines, but I really want to forge ahead with a book as it makes itself available to me. The more I plan, the more I am checking the TBR lists rather than picking up something for sheer enjoyment. The balance I suppose is the key to life. I write lists so as not to forget, but it sets a pressure cooker gauge into motion...

I have covered much more ground than initially expected, which is terrific. I will take gothic over weird any day but I want to understand how one relates to the other. I need to flick back and forth with CanLit and EngLit to keep free of rust. =) There is not one I regret reading. Some are simply easier to absorb than others, some feature less frustrating labyrinthine plots, and some more identifiable (or not) characters. Never dull. Keep plugging away.

Maybe I will kick back with Infinite Jest someday, to put all the rest in perspective! I don't expect to enjoy it, but one never knows... That is one of the few films I could watch first without having read the book.

març 4, 2019, 9:03pm

>46 housefulofpaper: I'll read over La Bell Dame again, since I have my Keats collection on hand, right next to Frankenstein. ;)

What the youtuber was getting at was that the details in Dracula that make it work as a horror and atmospheric story is the book formula which allows a read to experience past and present at the same time (through letters, etc) instead of the constant "real time" that a movie uses. Of course though, I'll give the real thing a read before I decide. I've seen maybe 4-5 Dracula adaptations on film.

On a side note, I read that there's been another, more modern rewrite of Polidori's story-play-opera that works into it, spoofs of modern stories like Twilight, Ann Rice, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This amuses me a bit since Buffy is already spoofing Dracula to a point, portraying him as a famous (and vain) vampire that makes all of his movies and plays himself. ;)

març 11, 2019, 10:09pm

I've had Orson Welles', 'Mercury Theater', radio broadcast adaptation of Dracula on my computer for perhaps a couple of years and never got round to listening to it. I've just listened to it.

It was quite an experience. It's after midnight here, and the wind is moaning in the chimney and rattling things outside. Then there is all the crackle and hiss on the ancient recording, so that on occasions I had to strain to hear, which actually enhanced the experience, I thought.

Of course the story was heavily cut to fit a fifty-five minute broadcast, including a couple of main characters, and Welles took the odd liberty with it over and above that. I quite enjoyed it for all that and, indeed, it was probably truer to the book than most film versions.

I could definitely hear Bela Lugosi in a couple of the performances.

One frustration, in the accompanying picture - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK4frrg7SyU, assuming it is of the 'Dracula' cast, the two women are so alike they look like sisters and I couldn't for the life of me decide which one was Agnes Moorehead. My only memory of her is as Endora in the TV series Bewitched and that's given me an image of her as a diva, so I'd like to think she was the one in the flamboyant hat. But she played Mina and Mina really should be the one on the left and Lucy should have the hat. Incidentally, I've been quite unable to find out anything about the Lucy actor, Elizabeth Fuller.

And one little puzzle: the Arthur Holmwood character was left out of the adaptation, but I'm almost sure I remember either Mina or Lucy referring to someone as 'Arthur'. Now I'll have to listen to it again ...

Editat: març 12, 2019, 9:09pm

She's on the left. She is also in my Bogie Becall film-noir dvd Dark Passage (1947). I never missed an episode of Bewitched as she was my favourite part. We only had 3 channels so it was a treat. I don't recall the first Darren, too young I guess. Born in 1964 I saw it only on tv as it was broadcast. I learned of her lasting friendship with Welles when researching him last year. I have not yet seen Citizen Kane (1941) but it's been on the list for many years. Agnes looks awfully dowdy as Mary Kane, but he introduces her in the trailer as 'one of the best in the world'. I have yet to read/watch War of the Worlds too. =( They must have had a ton of fun on stage together in those early years.

Fun way to spend an hour. I will save it for Earth Hour with the lights out!

març 12, 2019, 4:51pm

>49 alaudacorax:
I remember noticing particularly that the section where Mina psychically pursues Dracula had a "feel" about it that was closer to the novel than any other version I had seen or heard.

Editat: març 12, 2019, 9:14pm

>51 housefulofpaper: I liked your tie in with Dracula on the Count Magnus thread in The Weird Tradition group. Those overlaps are very helpful, houseful. =) The part about the origin of Dracula.

post #20, Apr2013:
With the description of Count Magnus as a vampire in mind, the black pilgrimage reminded me of the story - related by Van Helsing in the novel - of how Dracula became a vampire:

"The Draculas were, says Arminius, a great and noble race, though now and again were scions who were held by their coevals to have had dealings with the Evil One. They learned his secrets in the Scholomance, amongst the mountains over Lake Hermanstadt, where the devil claims the tenth scholar as his due."

nov. 17, 2019, 6:00am

>43 frahealee:

I was just looking back through this thread and I'm quite surprised that Florence Marryat and The Blood of the Vampire seem not to have registered with me when you first posted. She sounds a fascinating, almost 21st-century character (except for the spiritualism, which is very Victorian of her) and she was the daughter of one of my childhood's favourite authors--which adds a bit of interest. There is so much going on with her. The very fact that somebody else published a vampire novel in 1897 is intriguing enough, but I have so many questions I haven't, so far, been able to answer.

Annoyingly, I couldn't find the month of publication of The Blood of the Vampire. Stoker published in May and such was Marryat's literary fecundity that she could well have written in response to Dracula and in time to publish in the same year. This is the more likely in that, given her activities as an actress and performer, she may well have known Stoker and might, just possibly, have had some pre-publication knowledge of his book. On the other hand, the synopsis I've read seems to suggest that if she was influenced by anything it was Le Fanu's Carmilla.

Anyway, the first thing is to read the book, so I'm going to get a copy. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

nov. 17, 2019, 6:05am

>43 frahealee:, >53 alaudacorax:

Actually, I was re-reading this thread in anticipation of a re-reading of Dracula, which I was going to do because I'm watching so many Dracula-themed films at the moment. You are sabotaging me!

nov. 17, 2019, 7:33am

>44 frahealee: - ... The Vampire Maid by Nisbet ...

Rather a good little story, though, as so often, not particularly original.

Of course it's always a young lovely lady, never a woman of middle or old age.

But Nisbet does have the dark, older woman in attendance, possibly or possibly not the mother, quite likely facilitating the vampire, and never properly explained. She probably stems from Carmilla, but I'm wondering if she had become an established trope of the vampire tale by Nisbet's time of writing (1900). I wonder how many vampire short stories were around by that time.

nov. 23, 2019, 2:36pm

I've just finished Dracula--my first reading for quite a few years. Oddly, I hadn't remembered it as quite so gripping. Each evening, I've been having to force myself to put it aside to get on with other stuff. It's normally the other way around--things that I once thought so gripping proving on re-reading to be less so.

des. 10, 2019, 7:58pm

I've been listening to an radio dramatisation of Dracula. To be specific it's a 2006 adaptation, first broadcast on the BBC World Service, of Liz Lochhead's 1985 stage version. It stars David Suchet as Dracula and Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Harker (curiously, it must be more or less contemporary with that TV version where Suchet played Van Helsing).

It only has a two-hour running time but Liz Lochhead adds two new characters (Quincy Morris is dropped, as per usual though) and gives lots of dialogue (actually, monologues approaching Samuel-Beckett levels of complexity) to Renfield (who is played as an Irishman, by Jon Glover (Spitting Image voices and "Mr. Cholmondley-Warner" for Harry Enfield, and loads of other stuff). There's some awareness of social and sexual issues that Stoker ignores or glides over, but I'd hesitate to call this a Feminist version, and it does allow for some of the plot mechanics to operate a bit more smoothly than in the novel, actually.

Suchet is of course terrific as Dracula, perhaps especially in the long scene on the night Harker arrives at castle Dracula. He's trying to play the role of friendly host but cannot contain explosions of anger and contempt for the wishy-washy modern Englishman.

Unfortunately, the extra character and background at the start of the play has to be paid for at the end with a reordering of events that sees the staking of Lucy/saving of Lucy's soul coming just before the climax back at Dracula's castle. Which was all a bit rushed to the extent that I had to listen to the final 15 minutes again to understand just what had happened.

Maybe not the best audio adaptation then, but it does some things that other versions haven't attempted, and it might have the best Dracula.

des. 10, 2019, 8:32pm

>57 housefulofpaper:
but I'd hesitate to call this a Feminist version, - to clarify, only because to say that seems unnecessarily reductive.

des. 10, 2019, 8:39pm

>57 housefulofpaper:

Is that on the iPlayer, Andrew? Couldn't find it on a search, but I have no great opinion of the iPlayer's search engine.

des. 10, 2019, 8:47pm

I doubt it. I bought it on CD.

But - it's free if you sign up to Audible (it says here).


I wonder if it's worth searching iPlayer (or rather, "Sounds", now) for the other versions that I managed to record in recent years - there's a 1994 version with Frederick Jeager as the Count that was on Radio 4 Extra, and a 2012 version starring Nicky Henson.

It's also time to check the radio listings for treasures over the Christmas period!

Editat: des. 11, 2019, 11:12am

>49 alaudacorax: For some bizarre reason, I fell upon a Charlie Chan 30s/40s film that had to do with radio shows, which reminded me of this one hour morsel. It was a treat to return to it. Scratches and all. I did manage to find War of the Worlds radio broadcast with Orson Welles months ago, and was delighted that my son studied it for a college class on sci-fi phenomenon in literature. Now, I really must hunt down Citizen Kane.

>56 alaudacorax: Pleased as punch that you enjoyed it more the second time around. My first immersion was captivating and long-lasting. I tried to hit a few Stephen King novels this past Hallowe'en but it was not to be. Rumour has it that one is vampire and one is werewolf. They appeal to me more than child killers and rapists. Although the children in the radio show who craved chocolate didn't fare so well. =(

>57 housefulofpaper: David Suchet reminds me of Omar Sharif for some reason. He is a tiny man with immense presence and adaptability. He'd make a terrific Dracula with, as you mention, that hypnotic charm and underlying menace. Contempt mixed with amusement.

Editat: des. 13, 2019, 10:40am

>61 frahealee: Now I remember, the original appeal was Bela Lugosi appearing in the Charlie Chan and The Black Camel (1931) and Boris Karloff appearing in the Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936), both easily found in black/white one hour blips online. Interesting casting-against-type, since you immediately assume both play the villains. Lon Chaney Jr. also makes an appearance in Charlie Chan City in Darkness (1939) as a thug named Pierre. I have yet to see him as the Wolf Man (1941).

"Death is a black camel that kneels unbidden at every gate."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyo84C1G0zQ (Bela)

"This opera is going on tonight even if Frankenstein walks in."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km3bVSDR5o4 (Boris)

Editat: des. 27, 2019, 11:00am

>53 alaudacorax: In an online blog written by a female PhD researcher at Sheffield University, called Sheffield Gothic, she states that The Blood of the Vampire by Florence Marryat was published a few months after Dracula by Bram Stoker. I have the story lined up for February. Having been to Jamaica, I'm anxious to revisit the culture. The convent, the vivisection, the plantation life and uprising, makes it sound like Madam Bovary meets The Island of Dr. Moreau!

des. 28, 2019, 10:39am

>63 frahealee:
Thanks for Sheffield Gothic: it looks an interesting blog (website?) and I shall look into it.
I haven't made a start on The Blood of the Vampire yet (too many distractions recently--Xmas pudding, wine, the kids' toys), but any day now.

Editat: gen. 22, 2020, 12:26pm

Intriguing tidbit: In rewatching Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom (2018) with my son (since he studied biotech ethics, etc.), specifically the bonus features, it was revealed by the director that his primary inspiration for creating his new dino monster, was Frank Langella in the Dracula (1979) version. A.J. Bayona saw it as a young child and he still feels that pure sense of paralyzed hysteria when picturing him scaling the wall upside down then the close up of his face through a glass door, before reaching through it to unlock the door. He tried to harness the fear the young lady felt being in front of a t-rex (the eyeball closeup) in Jurassic Park (1993), combined with the silent suspense of the kitchen scene. He was born in Spain in 1975. He took over as director for this second JW incarnation from the first director, Colin Trevorrow, who co-wrote the newer script and he wanted to up the ante on ruthless menace. His main objective was to make a monster-in-a-house movie. Even when I try to look away from the gothic, it finds me! =)

Editat: gen. 22, 2020, 1:38pm

In another bonus features segment, the design of the front teeth and the claws on the primary 'villain' dinosaur (Indoraptor) mirrored Nosferatu (1922), by the director's specific request. The fim includes an homage to both movies, with scenes recreated that audiences would immediately recognize right down to the dripping blood. The engineered dinosaur in Jurassic World (2015) was partially a t-rex (Indominus Rex) but white, so it made sense to design this one sleek and black, for the sake of contrast and to mimic Count Dracula. It was even more detailed, but much more a work in progress and therefore more noticeably imperfect. Now knowing this, it makes me want to seek out The Orphanage (2007) (produced by Guillermo del Toro) and A Monster Calls (2016) to see if any Dracula references exist.

And can I just say, seeing Jeff Goldblum as a Jurassic lego figure (in the previews) has made my day!

feb. 5, 2020, 7:43pm

>66 frahealee:

I had no idea of these homages to screen vampires by way of CGI dinosaurs!

Quite coincidentally, I read the other day, under the entry for Necromancy ("gaining power or knowledge through spirits of the dead) in The Handbook of the Gothic (this entry was written by Carolyn D. Williams), a list of "eerie manipulations of dead matter and spirit, authentic or faked" that ends - surprisingly, to me - with Jurassic Park.

Editat: feb. 10, 2020, 10:29am

>67 housefulofpaper: The necromancy book is central in The House With a Clock in Its Walls (2018), locked away in a special cabinet encircled by charms and magic spells by the boy's Uncle Jonathan. His parents have died unexpectedly, so he relocates to Michigan to live with his mother's elder brother, whom he's never met. Cate Blanchett plays a neighbour witch who befriends Jonathan, and the three make a new little 'family' linked by learned magic conducted with integrity. The boy (through a dare and a dupe) removes the book, and practises a blood spell which raised the antagonist from the dead in a nearby cemetery. This is important because the clock in the wall is striking fewer and fewer gongs with the passing of each night leading up to a lunar eclipse. Through various accidental discoveries, they put various pieces of the puzzle together to figure out what's going on. The funny part to me is that the book is the main nefarious element, and that by opening it, mayhem ensues. The clock simply and subtly amps up the tension. I had to look up the term during that first viewing! It was described as communing with, or raising from, the dead. I knew that HPLovecraft used the term, from The Weird Tradition group, but didn't know it was 'a thing' in various forms of formal literature. I never delve into magical themes since I studied the occult during a Man in Society high school class, which is why my father insisted we study World Religions together. He was furious at my casual humour about the topic, so I completed my project and ignored it for decades. It has zero appeal to me but various links in books/films are critical to comprehend. It remains a mere fancy to me, unless of course I need to invite my priest to the house to oust a mischievous malevolent spirit. The Catholic Talk Show hosted an episode last week with a guest who'd written a book about what exorcists want us to know, and it distinguished reality from film, how rites in the USA/Europe differ, etc. Who knew!? The reason I mention this, is that they give away 'vampire hunting kits' to patrons, alongside bobblehead saints, etc. just for fun. Gothic is everywhere!

Concerning Jurassic Park, I read the book, and was surprised by the differences between book and film, specifically who lived or died in each. Spielberg had rights to the book before it was even completed! He was working with the author on a different script at the time, and it just fell into place. Point being, the mentality of the young scientist scooped out of school by the old but energetic creator of the park, in subsequent films, went rogue with his experiments, which the owner was unaware of, so became a 'secret villain' who had no remorse for 'raising from the dead a better version of the original'. BD Wong plays his part well in the most recent movie, but it does not exist in the original novel.

ETAdd: Sadly, youtube removed (Feb.06) that most recent TCTS episode citing hate speech?!? I'm glad to have seen it when I did, making notes of all pertinent written resources. Hopefully they'll take youtube minions to task and resurrect it. Pun intended. Luckily another episode from 2018 addresses the same topic and remains intact. The audio link still works on their website for the video youtube removed.

Editat: juny 21, 2020, 1:20pm

Hello All, so yesterday afternoon, about 2 p.m. Pacific Time here in US, I watched for the very first time the Langella version of Dracula (1979)

I like it though found little disconcerting when they did things like switching Mina and Lucy names, and playing a bit loosely with the plot. But really enjoyed Langella's great performance. Even my spouse, who doesn't know anything about Dracula, asked me who it was because she recognized Langella's voice.

Spouse asked me a question that off top of my head, I can't remember answer to. In the book, how old are Mina and Lucy?

I guess what brought that on is that spouse noticed how the actress playing Mina (I'm using the correct name for the right character), Jonathan Stewards fiancé, seemed a wee bit older than , say, Winona Ryder. I think actress name is Jan Francis.


I'd to confess that I really didn't know the answer. Would late twenties or early thirties be a good guess?

Though I generally like the film, I still prefer the BBC 1977 version with Louis Jourdan, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075882/

Editat: nov. 8, 2020, 1:04pm

>69 benbrainard8:

The Langella film is based on the stage play (as the Bela Lugosi film was) rather than directly on the novel. Characters are dropped/combined, relationships changed, Lucy and Mina's names swapped over.

In the book, I would guess that Lucy is supposed to be late teens or very early twenties and Mina would be a bit older, but still in her twenties.

IMDb gives the dates of birth for Jan Francis and Kate Nelligan. Ms Francis was already in her thirties when the film was being shot.

nov. 8, 2020, 9:31am

Happy 173rd Birthday, Bram!

nov. 8, 2020, 1:04pm

>71 alaudacorax:
Indeed! Happy birthday to Mr Stoker!

nov. 8, 2020, 3:10pm

Is it odd that Rupert Bear and Bram Stoker have the same birthday (it's Rupert's 100th today)?

nov. 8, 2020, 5:54pm

>73 alaudacorax:
Also Julian of Norwich and Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind). I'm struggling to see any deep connections between them, I have to confess.

Still, a good excuse to stick a Dracula film on to see out the weekend.

Editat: nov. 8, 2020, 8:14pm

I chose Dracula A.D. 1972. We get a couple of shots where the titles of books in Lorrimar van Helsing's are legible.