While I didn’t finish Dracula in time to meet the deadline of the R.I.P. Challenge, I did finish it within days of the end of the novel’s action on November 6 of some indeterminate year. One of the things I’ve noticed about reading a book like Dracula, around which a cottage industry of adaptations, homages, and even an entire genre have sprung, is that the story in the actual book becomes altered to the point that the reader had different expectations. For instance, I had the idea that the character of Renfield had a much larger role and was a servant of Dracula’s. I didn’t realize the Count came to England, and I was surprised by Dracula’s small role in the actual novel.
The novel holds up well as a gothic tale. I wonder how it might have fared had Stoker chosen to tell it with a straight narrative rather than as a series of journals. He is constricted by what his characters are able to report. I don’t know enough about vampire tradition to know if Stoker originated some of the aspects we have come to associate with vampire narratives: the fear of garlic and Christian artifacts such as crosses, crucifixes, and the communion host; the inability to rise during the day and activity at night; and superhuman strength that grows more powerful over the ages. On the other hand, I was surprised to discover that sunlight didn’t necessarily seem to be harmful to the vampires in this novel. They avoided it, but when coffins were opened during the day to look on them, they didn’t disintegrate into dust as Anne Rice’s vampires do (and hers are not afraid of crucifixes).
I am glad I read Dracula. It is a great read for anyone interested in how the literary craving for vampires came to be, but you won’t find the seductive and charming Louis de Pointe du Lacs, Lestat de Lioncourts, or even Edward Cullens in this novel. Dracula is just a monster, and there’s nothing attractive or seductive about it.
I read Dracula with the iPhone app Classics. I usually have one book going in DailyLit, one paper book, and one iPhone book. I haven’t decided which book I’ll read next on the iPhone, but I haven’t finished Crime and Punishment on DailyLit, nor have I finished We Have Always Lived in the Castle in print.
A short update on NaNoWriMo: I am a little behind the wordcount. By the end of the day yesterday, I should have reached 11,667 words, and I am currently at 9,304. It might not seem bad to be behind by 2,363 words, especially compared with some folks who are working with larger discrepancies than that, but it also means that in order to be caught up by the end of the day today, I need to write 4,030 words. And that is a lot for one day. I’m not sure it’s going to happen, particularly as I have two grad school assignments due. But we shall see. The writing is not coming as quickly or easily as it did at first, I think because I really did sort of know how to start off. Cross your fingers for me that things pick up. I’d really like to win NaNo this year.