Dracula: Celebrating 100 Years

Rating: 
3
A version of this review will appear in The Vampire's Crypt 18 (Fall 1998). The Vampire's Crypt web site is: http://members.aol.com/MLCVamp/vampcrpt.htm

DRACULA: CELEBRATING 100 YEARS, ed. Leslie Shepard and Albert Power. Dublin, Ireland: Mentor Press, 1997; ISBN 0-947548-84-X; 9.99 pounds.

Less intimidating, less scholarly, and broader in scope than DRACULA: THE SHADE AND THE SHADOW, Shepard and Power's collection of essays celebrates not only DRACULA and Dracula but things vampire-related. Articles delving into the background of DRACULA itself include "The Writing of Dracula" by Leslie Shepard, which relates the highlights of Stoker's research for the novel, and "Why Westenra?" by Mark Pinkerton, which includes a lovely line drawing of a bas-relief that may have inspired a scene in the novel. Setting DRACULA in its literary and historical context are "The Gothic Novel and Bram Stoker" by Leslie Shepard, "Bram Stoker and the Tradition of Irish Supernatural Fiction" by Albert Power, and "The Beetle and Dracula" by Richard Dalby. This last essay deals with a novel published contemporaneously with DRACULA, THE BEETLE by Richard Marsh, a horror story that outsold DRACULA during the Edwardian era.

"Nosing around Nosferatu" by Jeanne Keyes Youngson (president and founder of the Count Dracula Fan Club) is both informative and entertaining, setting the making of the original movie NOSFERATU against Florence Stoker's outraged reactions to the theft of her intellectual property that the movie's unauthorized production and release constituted. "The Sign of the Cross" by Leslie Shepard not only illustrates some of the most common types of crosses (ankh, Maltese, Celtic, swastika) but discusses the history of this motif in Christian iconography.

The book concludes with several essays on Bram Stoker by Leslie Shepard. "Bram Stoker and the Theatre," in essence a brief biography of Stoker, describes Stoker's earliest contact with the theater as well as his virtually life-long dealings with Henry Irving. Shepard's discussion of Stoker's death certificate convincingly debunks claims that Stoker was suffering from tertiary syphilis when he died. The final piece, "Bram Stoker's Dublin," describes Stoker-related sites in that city. It is nicely illustrated with photographs, some from Stoker's time. Other highlights include Stoker's obituary as it appeared in the *Times*, "Dracula's Guest" translated into Irish, "I Like Playing Dracula" by Bela Lugosi, and interviews with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Lovely vampiric spot drawings are scattered throughout the book, and the cover includes color reproductions of Ireland's charming set of four Dracula postage stamps set against an atmospheric painting by Jonathan Barry.

Minuses? The table of contents lists only chapter titles, not authors, and the mistitled section "Books about Bram Stoker" in fact lists books about Stoker, DRACULA, and Dracula -- with no annotations indicating which is which. In their enthusiasm for celebrating 100 years of DRACULA, editors Shepard and Power have perhaps been a bit *too* eclectic, including the essays "Are There Such Things as Vampires?" by Ralph Shirley, originally published in the *Occult Review* in 1924 (little more, alas, than a rehashing of much-told tales from Franz Hartmann, "Miss Middleton," and the ancient Greek, with a dash of ectoplasm thrown in) and "The Enigma of the Count Saint Germain" by Vincent Hillyer. "In Search of Dracula: A Personal Voyage" by Jonathan Barry, although it contains a fascinating narrative of the author's search for traces of the historical Dracula in "Dracula country," unfortunately perpetuates the myth that Dracula was considered a "wampyr" in his lifetime and that Stoker learned of him from Arminius Vambery. (Interestingly, both of these claims are footnoted -- to A BIOGRAPHY OF DRACULA by Harry Ludlum and Stoker's PERSONAL REMINISCENCES OF HENRY IRVING by Stoker, respectively.)

The extensive coverage of Stoker himself is both refreshing and informative, particularly the material on likely influences on the writing of DRACULA; and if some of the articles are arguably off-topic they are nonetheless interesting reading and -- failing that -- generally short. This is a good introductory book for readers who would like to get a feel for the background and context of DRACULA and its author without being overwhelmed by scholarship.

DRACULA, CELEBRATING 100 YEARS is available from Bram Stoker Enterprises in Ireland. Ordering information follows my review of VAMPIRE JOURNAL.

The Mad Bibliographer
Cathy Krusberg

Fanged Films

Italy, 1968

France, 1963

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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