Day 4 of Vampire book week. Today, we look at the original vampire novel. The one that began the popularization of the vampire myths. Let’s take a look at Bram Stoker’s original Dracula.
I really enjoy doing AWESOME-tober-fest. It has given me a reason to read and watch books and movies I’ve always wanted to but never really “sucked it up” and made the commitment to do. Two years ago I read Shelley’s Frankenstein and I was surprised at how readable it was. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And based on that success, I was anxious to read Stoker’s Dracula.
Now, to be fair, I tried to read Dracula once already. It was back in the late ’90s when I was going through my “must read classics” phase. I couldn’t get through it. I remember thinking the first third of the book was good, but it completely fell apart after that. However, being older and wiser, I thought I could better appreciate it now. Besides, while not the first vampire novel, it certainly is what made them popular. Plus it influenced the original Universal Dracula with Bela Lugosi which would further the ingraining of vampires into popular culture.
Like I said, Stoker’s 1897 book was not the first vampire story. An essay published in the periodical Ninteenth Century in 1885 called Transylvania Superstitions discussed the mythical creatures. Lord Byron created a vampire story during the same night of ghost story telling that Mary Shelley created Frankenstein. Byron wouldn’t finish the story but John Polidori would polish it up and finish it as The Vampyre in 1819. However it was Stoker’s Dracula that popularized the monster. But it wouldn’t be until Universal’s 1931 movie based loosely (and I mean loosely) on the novel that Dracula would receive the popularity it currently achieves.