Monday, December 06, 2010
First published: 2009
The Blurb: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, upon its publication in 1897, shocked, captivated, titillated, outraged, thrilled. Two years later it astounded an American reviewer that Stoker - “A great, shambling, good-natured, over-grown boy with a red beard and ruddy complexion” - might be a successful businessman let alone the creator of the mysterious, seductive count from a castle (and coffin) in Transylvania. In more than a century since, Bram Stoker’s Dracula has never gone out of print. Yet the count has long overshadowed his author.
A Broadway stage adaption of Dracula in the 1920’s, and then the 1931 classic film version starring Bela Lugosi would make the fictional vampire a cultural icon. His story would continue to fascinate moviemakers and successive decades would bring the count to the silver screen in the shape of Christopher Lee, Jack Palance, Frank Langella, and Gary Oldman, to name only four. On television Buffy would slay vampires, while in print Dracula’s tale would spawn a whole genre of vampire fiction from Anne Rice’s wildly popular Vampire Chronicles to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.
This generously illustrated documentary collection explores in full the scope of the Dracula phenomena, from the folkloric origins of the vampire legend to its unending legacy as a vital influence on the literary and performing arts, not to mention the Romanian tourist industry. Nor does it overlook Bram Stoker himself – among its many exceptional primary documents are his working notes for Dracula – for without Bram Stoker, as this comprehensive volume shows, Count Dracula would never have assumed a life of his iconic own.
The review: I like blurb’s such as this book has, detailed and accurate. It almost makes me want to give a score and leave.
This book describes itself as “A documentary journey into vampire country and the Dracula phenomena” and it truly is. Edited by Dracula expert Elizabeth Miller it is split into six primary areas: 1) Bram Stoker, the Man and the Writer, 2)The Vampire before Dracula, 3)Contexts for Dracula, 4) the Writing of Dracula, 5.) the Publishing History of Dracula and 6.) The Legacy of Dracula. The book then fills these sections with essays and articles enough to make the Dracula student’s head spin.
The contents page is very detailed and all the articles are very well referenced – in the Harvard style – and the references fall behind their relevant article. There is also a reference and further reading section at the end of the volume that ties to the articles themselves. However I will gripe about a lack of index. Though the book has the detailed contents that I mentioned, an index would have been, I would say, a godsend for dipping back into aspects and using the book as a scholarly tome.
For scholarly it is, and filled with a huge amount of data, theory and fact. Perhaps too much for the casual reader but for the student of the vampire in media and, particularly, Dracula it is a must have. 9 out of 10.