In an effort to rekindle (haha, I made a pun) my reading habits, I rather bravely signed up for a bookish challenge this year.
For the Classics category I read Dracula by Bram Stoker.
I don’t think the book requires any introduction (yes, like all good films, it was a book first); but maybe I’d have to defend calling it a classic.
I discovered that there is no such thing as a classics masterlist, and that a classic is rather vaguely defined as “Judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind”. Furthermore, classics are also applicable to more than one generation and can be interpreted in various ways. Apparently.
Dracula is the original modern Vampire tale – a solicitor must visit a client in the Carpathians, and slowly begins to realise that all is not well with his host – the warnings of the superstitious indigenous villagers did not tip him off, it seems.
Dracula also follows the now well-known epistolary format – the story is told through diary entries of various individuals, letters and newspaper clippings.
It’s interesting to see, while reading this book, how it inspired the many current vampire tales.
Dracula was first published in 1897, so the language usage is obviously a little different. It definitely took me a while to adapt. I suggest reading it with a dictionary on-hand. It is a little long-winded at times, and sometimes descriptive to an annoying level. One also does well to research the context of the novel a little. Knowing the kind of environment the characters dealt with in terms of sexuality, religion and science contributes wonderfully.
And as for thematic interpretation – one can have a field day analysing this novel. It addresses some interesting matters regarding faith and superstition and its overlap with science, as well as issues of sexuality, feminism and impending war.
Speaking of feminism, the females in the novel have quite a self-deprecating attitude. It drove me nuts!
As for the horror part: I’m a regular scaredy-cat, but most of the book was palatable. There are a handful of gory episodes (but no more gory than the original Grimm tales), and there was one moment that I seriously considered sleeping with the lights on. There’s definitely darkness to the novel, but it is well worth a read.
“Remember my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker”
A fair warning: Stoker didn’t know much about the countries he wrote about; try not to be offended by his assumptions.
If you didn’t enjoy Twilight, don’t let it put you off. I know a myriad of people who didn’t expect to enjoy the book, but ended up loving it.
One more thing: Dracula is licensed under a Creative Commons License. That means you can get the ebook for free, legally, here!