My Rating: 5/5
Author: Bram Stoker
“No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be,” these words written in Jonathan Harker’s diary ideally portray the Gothic horror he endured in Count Dracula’s castle.
You can imagine how astoundingly brilliant a story would have to be to survive generations and how astonishing a character Dracula is, to be revered by millions. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is truly the magna carta of Gothic literature.
From the ancient seals of buried civilizations to the walls of battered palaces, stories about vampires have been written from time immemorial. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a perfect confluence of all those tales. He has personified the dreaded evil in those tales into this suave, gentlemanly poised vampire that the world will remember as Count Dracula.
Jonathan Harker is a recently certified solicitor from Exetor, sent by his employer to Transylvania to be of service to a client and thus begins the epic tale of horror. The first few pages follow Harker’s journey to Count’s castle. The sense of foreboding is kept alive right from the beginning by the fearful apprehensions of people around Harker and gets built up to a high degree of suspense and thrill even before the count is introduced.
The story is told through letters and diaries kept by the characters. One can see the author’s compassionate affection with them, creating them with much patience and thought. It is hard to tell who the real protagonist is!
Sharp and quick-witted dutch doctor Van Helsing, zoophagous maniac Reinfield, astute Mina Harker and shrewd Dr. Seward are strong characters playing their part in a tale that surrounds the Count.
The novel is not just a tale of horror but also a work of detective genius. Bram Stoker has mixed scientific inquiry with mysticism that requires deduction and investigation into facts and myths before reaching conclusions. The writing of events, the rewriting and reproduction of those diaries, not rushing to bizarre suppositions, makes this novel an interesting read. There was no unnecessary screaming, fainting and blood baths. It was a read class apart. The reserve and calm shown by characters with some occasional outbursts of emotions makes this piece all the more realistic. Being a diehard Agatha Christie fan I couldn’t help but notice a lot of Hercule Poirot in Dr. Van Helsing.
Our mind is programmed in a way to hate evil and revere the good. But Dracula (even with his incessant blood thirst) beguiled me with his polished charm.
Classics always give us a semblance of the society the story is set in. Bram Stoker’s Dracula shed light on the status of women, the relationships between the two sexes and the tenets of friendship and solidarity that brings strangers together to fight Dracula.
The novel is quite a page turner, especially the first 100 pages. I find the ending a bit bland and rushed; the series of events concluding in last 20 pages or so left me a little disappointed. Still, Dracula is a fantastic read. After watching tens of cinematic depictions of vampires, reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula was like going back to the basics.