Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Drac Facts

He look pretty suave to me.
I hadn't read Dracula in a long while, so I checked out a copy of the latest edition and found a fascinating introduction by Joan Acocella (American journalist and dance critic for the New Yorker.) She shared so many interesting facts that I'd either forgotten or never heard of, and, since they heightened my appreciation of this iconic novel, I thought I'd share some with you to celebrate this dark season.


First, as you probably know the lovely idea of the living dead wasn't orignial with Bram Stoker. These creatures had been around in European folklore for a long time before Stoker created the sensual count and captured the imagination of the reading public. "Captured the imagination" is another way of saying "lured them with the forbidden." 


"I love those taboos," and so say all of us.
The idea of the suave, enticing male figure didn't originate with Stoker. It was Lord Byron's personal physician, John Pilidori,  who wrote The Vampyre: A Tale and published it in 1819. He might even have crafted his undead character after the handsome Byron himself and used an outline of a story Bryon had started. By all accounts, The Vampyre was an erotic tale, luring readers with innocent virgins and an irresistible fiend. Wowzer! No wonder it was a hit. Remember, in last week's post I suggested writers could keep readers hooked by exploring taboos; the good doctor must have known that.  


Here's something I had never read before. Mary Gowin was a guest of Lord Byron's good friend and neighbor,  Percy Bysshe Shelley, during a summer stay at Lake Geneva. As a game several of the guests wrote or started to write ghost stories. While Polidore worked on his Vampyre story, eighteen-year-old Gowin began writing Frankenstein. This was in 1816. I would say that there were some significant ghostly vibes around that Swiss lake that year.


There have been more than 150 movies made about Dracula. The first one was a silent film titled Nosferatu and came out in 1922.


Bella Lugosi began playing Count Dracula on stage in 1927 and became the count on screen for most of his career. It wasn't what he wanted, but in the end it made him famous. Ms. Acocella writes, "[Lugosi] was buried in his Dracula cloak."


Bram Stoker was born outside of Dublin in 1847. He was very ill  and bedridden until he was seven, and mentioned how that time alone, turned him into an introspective person whose thoughts during those early years became books in his later ones.


About 1871 he turned to acting, but didn't do very well. Next he became a drama critic (sounds like revenge to me) and started to write short stories. His first novel, The Snake's Pass was published in in1890. He publishes Dracula in 1897.
Bram Stoker
So what other facts are there about our famous writer and his famous book, Dracula? Can you share them here? Thanks.

8 comments:

  1. Wow!! You could teach a course on Dracula!!
    It sounds like that Lake Geneva writing retreat was the place to be way back when :-)

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  2. Great post! I learned more than I knew there was to learn about Drac. I'm going to check out some of your other spooky posts!

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  3. Of course the whole idea of a blood drinking/sucking monster comes from the stories of Vlad the Impaler, a real and vicious warrior who impaled his living enemies on stakes.

    And that young group of people who decided to write scary stories did so because the weather at Lake Geneva was wet and dreary and the plans they had sailing and such were foiled.

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  4. Fabulous, Bish. I love that kind of information. One thing I didn't include is that Byron challenged those guests to write ghost stories and only Gowin and Polidore actually followed through.

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  5. Oh, *jumping up and down* I posted on something similar. Why? Because it's a great time to think of these villians that draw us in no matter what. Vamps are it. Thanks for the post.

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  6. Wow it's like you're blogging just for me now! :D I love it! And yes, vampires have been around far longer than Mr. Stoker. But, you gotta love the whole hot brooding guy thing, no matter what year it is.

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