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Dracula Entries

ENTRY 1 

Critical Commentary on the Novel – The Daily Mail Review (June 1, 1897)

“The recollection of this weird and ghostly tale will doubtless haunt us for some time to come. It would be unfair to the author to divulge the plot. We therefore restrict ourselves to the statement that the eerie chapters are written and strung together with very considerable art and cunning, and also with unmistakable literary power. Tribute must also be paid to the rich imagination of which Mr. Bram Stoker here gives liberal evidence. Persons of small courage and weak nerves should confine their reading of these gruesome pages strictly to the hours between dawn and sunset” (364).

Quotes from Dracula

“…while Count Dracula was speaking, there was that in his eyes and in his bearing which made me remember that I was a prisoner, and that if I wished it I could have no choice. The Count saw his victory in my bow, and his mastery in the trouble of my face, for he began at once to use them, but in his own smooth, restistless way…” (37).

“I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the supersensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited – waited with beating heart” (43).

“This was the being I was helping to transfer to London, where, perhaps, for centuries to come he might, amongst its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever-widening circle of semi-demons to batten on the helpless. The very thought drove me mad” (53-54).

Images from The British Library 

“This is the first edition of Dracula, published on 16 May, 1897, by Archibald Constable and Company, London, and priced at 6 shillings.”

“Promotional poster for the 1931 film version of Dracula depicting Dracula’s numerous female victims.”

“Poster promoting the 1958 film adaptation of Dracula.”

Poster promoting the 1958 film adaptation of Dracula

4/8/20

ENTRY 2

Images from The British Library: Manuscript of Bram Stoker’s Dracula playscript

Quotes from Dracula

“His face was turned from us, but the instant we saw we all recognized the Count – in every way, even to the scar on his forehead. With his left hand he held both Mrs Harker’s hands, keeping them away with her arms at full tension; his right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white nightdress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man’s bare breast which was shown by his torn-open dress. The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink” (247).

“He has all along, since his coming, been trying his power, slowly but surely; that big child-brain of his is working. Well for us, it is, as yet, a child-brain; for had he dared, at the first, to attempt certain things he would long ago have been beyond our power. However, he means to succeed, and a man who has centuries before him can afford to wait and to go slow” (264).

Critical Commentary on the Novel – From Transylvanian Superstitions by Emily Gerard 

“[Stoker gleaned his primary information on Transylvania folklore from Emily de Laszowska Gerard’s 1885 essay ‘Transylvanian Superstitions…’]”

“There are many reasons why these fabulous beings should retain an abnormally firm hold on the soil of these parts; and looking at the matter closely we find here no less than three separate sources of superstition…First, there is what may be called the indigenous superstition of the country, the scenery of which is peculiarly adapted to serve as background to all sorts of supernatural beings and monsters…Secondly, there is here the imported superstition! that is to say, the old German customs and beliefs brought hither seven hundred years ago by the Saxon colonists from their native land, and like many other things, preserved here in the greater perfection than in the original country. Thirdly, there is the wandering superstition of the gypsy tribes, themselves a race of fortune-tellers and witches, whose ambulating caravans cover the country as with a network, whose less vagrant members fill up the suburbs of towns and villages” (332).

4/15/20

12 Comments

  1. Evelyn

    Good morning!
    I loved your edition of the review of Dracula given contemporary to the time it was written in, it’s sort of comical how dramatic it is and I always enjoy seeing the Victorian drama that peaks out in critical reviews! (For instance, I still think sometimes about a lambasting review of Wilde I read in another Commonplace Book that absolutely tore him to shreds.) I also thought your entries from the novel were interesting since they point out the sensual nature of the novel, which connects very well to the movie posters you chose since they convey that same image. I noticed that you also excerpted the passage in which Jonathan comes to the horrifying realization that he is conveying Dracula to England, which connects to another Commonplace Book I read that had a passage about the implications of Dracula (an Old World European) being brought to London (a very modern city).

  2. cirish1

    Hi Olivia!

    I really enjoyed the critical commentary you chose as it was interesting to see a real reaction of someone during the time that it was written and how shocking it was. I thought the quotes that you chose were great at showing different aspects of novel so far, like how Dracula holds so much influence over others and the quote which discussed the sexuality and the appeal that it had on Harker. I discussed this a lot in CPB and how strong of a theme it is throughout the novel. I thought that the images you chose definitely connected to that theme and it is interesting of how throughout time this is the one that is always remained prominent more so than the horror elements.

  3. Jen Chretien

    Hey Olivia!

    Nice job with your entry for this week!

    Starting with the excerpts you selected from the novel, these three quotations are great in that they serve to demonstrate key aspects of Count Dracula’s character, as well as representations of “vampirism” in Dracula more broadly. The first and third quotations work to orient readers toward viewing Dracula as an overpowering, domineering force bent on conquering and corrupting the protagonists’ homeland of London, while the second quotation depicts the “perverse duality” associated with “the vampire race” more broadly (given that this particular quote references the brides/sisters of Dracula, but Johnathan clearly represents the Count as a figure that can simultaneously entice and repulse as well). Dracula’s domineering yet “smooth and seductive” influence (mirroring the Beetle’s hypnotic “power of the eye”), Dracula’s status as a “hostile invader” (the blood of the savage/hostile warrior Attila the Hun literally “runs through his veins”), and the “perverse duality” seen in capacity of vampires to both entice and repulse are all key elements of the novel discussed in my commonplace entries from the British Library, so it is nice to see examples from the novel itself that speak to these essential themes.

    Moving on to the non-novel primary source that you examined this week (the Daily Mail review of Dracula from 1897), it was interesting to see a contemporary review of the novel, as I did not include such content in my commonplace book for this week, having chosen to focus more heavily on secondary synthesis and historical context for the novel. If the descriptors from this review that depict the novel as “weird”, “ghostly”, and unfit for persons of “small courage” and “weak nerves” (at least during nighttime reading sessions) are to be taken at face value (that is, as actually depicting the novel as a source of genuine fear and not embellishments bent on promoting the text), then this review would beg me to ask the question – have modern readers been inundated with horror-focused media (mainly movies) to the extent that the 21st century tolerance for what counts as genuinely terrifying has been raised? That is, if modern readers have already been exposed to a significant amount of gruesome imagery in media such as films prior to their reading of Gothic texts/traditional horror texts such as Dracula, how is their engagement with the text different from that of 19th century/20th century viewers, who may have been more “innocent” in regards to the media to which they would have been exposed? Or, is it the historical context (i.e., cultural differences between the time periods) that would matter more in causing modern audiences to be less genuinely afraid when engaging with these texts?

  4. pphillips5

    I thought it was very interesting how you connecting the feeling of sensual depravity and innocence vs sexuality in the quotes with the posters and advertisements for the movies. This really shows the fears that people have, but also desire to see. This reminds me of Cohen when he says that fear of the monster is really a sort of desire.

  5. phussey

    Hey Olivia!
    I liked the quotes that you chose. The one about him trying his power was a very strong quote to me as well while reading the book. I always thought about how he seemed to be in a way taking his time because like the quote said he had time to wait. I made the weird connection between him and The Beetle because both seemed to toy with their victims or take their time to do what they wanted to do.

  6. Jen Chretien

    Hey Olivia!

    Nice job with your entry for this week!

    It’s interesting to see that you included a copy of Stoker’s 1897 script for the theatre version of Dracula from the British Library. In researching content to include from the British Library for my commonplacing for last week’s entry, I had seen the page discussing Stoker’s stage adaptation of the novel, although did not choose to include anything from it in my entry. As the British Library page discusses, it is interesting to see Stoker’s attempt to translate the novel into a play format; and, given the “dullness” of the play version of Dracula in comparison to the novel version, this translation between artistic mediums serves to demonstrate the effectiveness of Stoker’s employment of media such as diary entries and news articles in the original novel version, as this multi-media format allows for levels of detail and intimacy that are difficult to achieve in a dialogue-intensive theatre environment. More broadly, this demonstrates the impact of an artist’s/author’s/content creator’s choice of medium (e.g., novel, film, visual art, etc.) on how his/her work is conveyed to its audience and how certain mediums can be more or less effective at achieving particular artistic aims.

    It is also interesting to see that you included an excerpt from the novel that describes Dracula’s “violating” confrontation with Johnathan and Mina, as this was a scene that I had made heavy note of during my reading, having personally found it to be both the climactic moment of the novel as well as the most intense and genuinely unsettling “horrific” scenes we have been presented across all the novels we have read for this course. Dracula’s dominance over and “corruption” of the Harkers in this scene exemplifies the ability of the Count, as well as vampires more broadly, to employ the “perverse duality” of seduction and repulsion to achieve their “monstrous aims”, given that this moment in the novel is layered with both traditionally “horrific” (repulsive) elements as well as sexual (seductive) overtones. Such contrasting yet intertwined elements work to imbue this instance of “villainy” with an acutely unsettling juxtaposition of “pleasure and pain” as well as with a genuinely distressing sense of violation and loss of personal autonomy (to the extent that the first statement I made for my marginalia surrounding this scene was “[instance of] rape-like violation”). When Mina goes on to say that she has been made “unclean” following this encounter with the Count, readers have most certainly been led to feel the “dirtiness” of her “violation”, and consequently experience the distress-imbued gravity of her statement more fully.

  7. pphillips5

    Great job on your CPB! The quote that really grabbed my attention was “This was the being I was helping to transfer to London, where, perhaps, for centuries to come he might, amongst its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever-widening circle of semi-demons to batten on the helpless. The very thought drove me mad”. This piqued my curiosity because Harker doesn’t view Dracula as innately evil, and he doesn’t;’t become truly afraid until he realizes the mistake he made by bringing him to London. This really shows the fears of people at the time: they weren’t; necessarily afraid of the monsters that were far away, they were more concerned with the potential of the monster penetrating their perfect society.

  8. nbradeen

    I really loved the critical commentary you added to your commonplace book this week. It really shows what Stoker focused on. In my commonplace book, I also focused on what inspired him. I talked about how his mother would tell him folk stories of monster, which clearly stuck with him.

  9. cirish1

    Hi Olivia!

    I really enjoyed your CPB entry for this week! I thought the piece on the play manuscript was super interesting as there have been so many adaptations of this story throughout time. Also the fact that it still remains in popularity speaks to the lasting impact it has had on people. What caught my attention the most was the critical commentary you chose because it had similar elements to my CPB entry on gothic motifs. The fact that the setting of a novel can really impact what the readers see. Stoker chose to take the superstitions of the land in which Dracula is first found and uses it to influence the feelings of the unknown.

  10. Jen Chretien

    Hi Olivia!

    This comment is intended to “pay a call” in regards to your commonplace book as a whole for ENG 420 – Victorian Monsters.

    In looking through your commonplace book, I noticed that you employed a successful balance of primary source material (whether in the form of direct quotations from the novel in question, material taken from the British Library (mainly images), or material extracted from the appendices of our Broadview/Norton/Macmillan editions), secondary source material (whether in the form of scholarly articles, critical essays, or contextual material), and “popular” (i.e., non-academic) material (whether in the form of a modern illustration linking Frankenstein to contemporary debates in science or in the form of images from popular movie adaptations of Dracula). What I felt made your commonplace entries particularly unique in comparison to other commonplace entries that I examined throughout the duration of this course was your frequent inclusion of contemporary reviews of the novel in question (i.e., reviews from the time of the novel’s publication; for the purposes of this course – 19th century reviews). Given that I focused primarily on secondary scholarly/critical discussions and contextual material related to the novel in question for my commonplace entries, it was interesting to see a commonplace book that included a substantial number of contemporary reviews. Such reviews are enjoyable/informative in that they help to make the novel in question feel more “alive” by serving as a reminder that these novels were “active” pieces of media that were read/analyzed/discussed within the time period they were produced, thus positioning the novels as significant components of active cultural debates of the time (as opposed to being regarded as historical pieces of history/culture that are studied at a “temporal distance” and consequently in a somewhat detached/ “dead” manner). It would be interesting to see an essay/commonplace book that would involve a “deep-dive” into 19th century reviews of the novels we’ve read for this course, and that would possibly examine any commonalities between the reviews found for each novel and would potentially compare them to modern popular discussion of these classic Gothic/monster texts. A thorough analysis of 19th century reviews could serve as a useful tool by which to study Victorian cultural attitudes, providing a way in which to substantiate, with primary evidence, the common themes of Victorian anxieties, prejudices, and cultural attitudes more broadly that have guided our reading/discussion throughout this course.

    Overall – Nice Work!

  11. cirish1

    Hi Olivia!

    This is my comment on your CPB overall 🙂

    I have really enjoyed your entries throughout the semester and thought you did a great job putting them all together! I reviewed your entries and it seems like the general format of your posts are to include some direct quotes from the novel, a form of critical commentary, and to also include some images. I thought you did a great job of connecting this elements and showing what the theme or topic of your entry was. A majority of the critical commentary seems to be sourced from the novel or the British Library (which is a source that I also heavily relied on). The topics of discussion seemed to be spread out but also seemed to be connected by focusing on topics such as the societal views during the time in which a novel was written or also the opinions of those who read the novel during the time it was published. This was something that I enjoyed because it is something I also chose to focus on. I thought it was great that you were able to take a broad view from the critical commentary and connect it back directly to the novel. That being said a question that I would bring up would be: Did you find it easy to be able to pull from the novel first to come up with a theme for your entry or to use the outside resources first? I know that everyone has a different way in formatting things so maybe the answer to this could explain more about your critical thinking process when making these entries.

  12. phussey

    Hey Olivia!
    This is my “calling card” on your CPB entries
    Your CPB entries have been so different but that speaks volumes to what spoke to you during different parts of the book. It was always fascinating seeing what passages jumped out at you and how you were able to see them in a different light. I always found it hard to find outside materials that matched my points but you were able to find matches perfectly. I saw a trend of you being able to find outside sources that criticized a specific part of the novel. This to me was interesting to see due to the hidden meaning that most of these books tend to have. It seemed that the British Library was a big resource for you which is a very good source to find that outside material. I wonder if you always agreed with what these critics said? Or if you just found it interesting as to their ideas of what the book may be saying. I think this would be a great topic to discuss when you do your final reflection as to how you were able to find those connections and if they made you think twice or just interested you. Sometimes I would read critics discussing a section of the book and wonder how they came up with that…
    I just wanted to also point out that, like my entries, some weeks were just a picture and quote, and others where more in-depth which I found to actually be more strong then you may have thought. When we read certain chapters, sometimes it was hard to find anything worth pulling and analyzing but you always found at least one passage that meant something and that got you thinking. You also always found beautiful graphics. Whether it was a short CPB or long, it always meant something to you. I have really enjoyed reading your CPB entries and they always made me think twice about a passage that I had already read once but did not think much about at first.

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