Why I’m Following In The Footsteps Of Dracula

Observatory

 

transylvania-history

Bram Stoker’s novel has somewhat paradoxically become one of the most influential novels of the last century, considering it was written as a melodrama and went head-to-head with Richard Marsh’s ‘The Beetle’.

‘The Beetle’ was a bizarre hybrid novel of supernatural romantic mystery published in 1897, the same year as ‘Dracula’, and initially it eclipsed the undead count’s sales. Hysterical in tone, it concerned the worshipper of a secret Egyptian cult who possesses mesmeric shapeshifting powers, and his feverish pursuit of a British politician. Filled with swirling smoke, hypnotic commands and weird chemicals, it is told from four separate viewpoints and is really quite unique in the annals of Victorian literature.

horror-of-dracula-2But ‘Dracula’ had something even better – a kind of eternal longevity. Although Stoker didn’t invent the vampire he defined its modern form, and the novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film and television interpretations.

Readers tend to forget that the story is told in epistolary form as a series of letters, diary entries and ships’ log entries, whose narrators are the novel’s protagonists, and that it’s occasionally supplemented with newspaper clippings relating to events not directly witnessed.

The events portrayed in the novel take place chronologically, largely in Transylvania, Romania, and Whitby, Yorkshire, during the 1890s. All of the action occurs within the same year between the 3rd of May and the 6th of November. A short note is located at the end of the final chapter written 7 years after the events outlined in the novel. A piece from the original final chapter was removed in which Dracula’s castle falls apart as he dies, hiding the fact that vampires were ever there.

This Easter I’ll be duplicating Jonathan Harker’s trip, making three major stops in Romania, travelling into Transylvania and the Carpathian mountains, up to the castle (with an added side-trip to a Transylvanian salt mine) and back to Whitby. I’ll be recording the journey and running diary notes along the way. I have form with the original book, having once written ‘Dracula’s Library’, a missing chapter in which we see Jonathan Harker at work on part of the job he was hired to do for the Count – cataloguing his books for sale. After that I’ll be guest speaking at the Dracula Society in June, and writing a special novella for The Mysterious Bookshop in New York, hopefully based on what I experience. Altogether; ‘If you’re going to Transylvania, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair’. Join me.

11 comments on “Why I’m Following In The Footsteps Of Dracula”

  1. Jo W says:

    Looking forward to reading all about your trip,as it’s something that I’m very unlikely to do. (It’s outside the freedom pass zone;-) ) I have visited Whitby in the past, climbed the steps to the Abbey,walked around the churchyard,looked out for large dogs. I also got bitten, but it was a gnat not a vampire! 🙂

  2. Andy W. says:

    Wow – another excellent journey to be enjoyed, I do so much love reading your blog Christopher.
    Why the Transylvanian salt mine ? did I miss this or mention of it in ‘Dracula’ was it in a early draft or the fact that is such a cool place to scare ones self ! I do remember a school to trip to a Welsh gold mine and a old disused railway tunnel – dark, dank, cold subterranean descents that still brings a shiver back some 35 years later !
    I would love to read your ‘Dracula’s Library’ chapter do any hard copies exist ?

  3. David Ronaldson says:

    What will you do if you fancy a drink, now Michael Ripper is sadly no more?

  4. Vincent C says:

    Toothbrush and jammies are packed so let’s go!

  5. Henry Ricardo says:

    I’m looking forward to it.

  6. snowy says:

    To answer the question raised by AndyW, it is in ‘The Mammoth Book of Dracula’ Edited by Stephen Jones. [ISBN-13: 978-1849015660] along with some 30 other stories, including a novella by Kim Newman.

    [But check the edition carefully, titles can sometimes be recycled repeatedly with different contents.]

  7. R Brown says:

    Draculas Library is in Christophers collection Personal Demons

  8. Roger says:

    “‘If you’re going to Transylvania, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair’. ”
    Garlic flowers, of course.

  9. Wayne Mook says:

    Wasn’t Stoker’s short story Dracula’s Guest supposed to be originally a chapter from Dracula?

    Look forward to reading your adventures, watch out for the trains in Europe, some can be hell. I can’t think where I read about that.

    Wayne.

  10. Vivienne says:

    Don’t think I’m going to get to Transylvania very soon, but was at Whitby a couple of years ago at Hallowe’en and everyone was dressed up in rather Victorian Dracula style which was fantastic.

  11. Andy W. says:

    Just to say a THANK YOU to Snowy & R Brown for the printing location of ‘Dracula’s Library’ – a copy is on its way.

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