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paulgoatallen
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The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

When I first read Dracula as a pimple-faced teenager, the thing that really struck me was that, "Hey! Wasn't this all based on a real historical figure?" I can remember going to the nearest bookstore – a giant used bookstore in Syracuse that has long since closed – and finding a "coffee table" book entitled In Search of Dracula: A True History of Dracula and Vampire Legends by Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu. (I still have the book. I'm looking at it right now – and the price is still there, penciled on the inside cover: $3.75) Talk about a terrifying read; I had nightmares about Vlad the Impaler and cannibalism for months afterwards!

I'll share with you a short passage (p. 107): "Here begins a very cruel frightening story about a wild bloodthirsty man, Dracula the voevod. How he impaled people and roasted them and with their heads boiled them in a kettle, and how he skinned people and hacked them to pieces like a head of cabbage. He also roasted the children of mothers and they had to eat their children themselves. And many other horrible things are written in this tract and also in hich land he ruled..."

Does the fact that Stoker's Dracula was based on an allegedly real Transylvanian prince make this story any more terrifying to you?
Paul


http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?cid=&WRD=in+search+of+dracula&z=y
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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PatienceP
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

No. I didn't think of Vlad the Impaler when I was actually reading Dracula.
Dracula may be based on a real person, but I know there are no real vampires. So I didn't think more of that slice of history than the novel itself required.
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genac
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

No, although I find the life of Vlad highly interesting. But what I find more historically interesting is the vampire legends that existed in Wallachia and legends about Vlad himself that were believed by people who lived during his reign.
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LordRuthven
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

[ Edited ]
Not to sound like a know-it-all, but Count Dracula bears very little resemblance to Vlad the Impaler. Bram Stoker had already written his story - featuring a character with the wretched name Count Wampyr - when he came across the name "Dracula" somehow. He wisely chose to rename his villain "Count Dracula." The rest, as they say, is history.

Countess Bathory's connection to vampire lore has likely been overstated as well.

Which isn't to say that either historical figure makes for uninteresting reading or inspiration. One of the cool things about Dracula-inspired lit in particular is how it seems to absorb peripheral topics and incorporate them into pop culture mythology.

Message Edited by LordRuthven on 10-03-2007 11:27 PM
Derek Tatum
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Chomp
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

Hi Paul. It sounds as though that book of yours is a tad sensationalistic, but it obviously inspired a lifelong love of vampire-related fiction, which is great (says the librarian).

Vlad the Impaler, though a ruthless, bloodthirsty ruler who did indeed impale people, is also considered a national hero in Romania, due to his success in beating back/holding off the Turks.

Derek, I agree that the vampire mythos has found countless ways to work itself into the pop psyche and culture. I think part of the reason why is that there are so many different ways to interpret that mythos, which fascinates people.

Carol
So many books, so little time...
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dhaupt
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

I'm always amazed at what we humans do to one another weather it be in the name of war or what "criminals" do. I have no desire to watch the news and find out more, I instead open a good or bad book and loose myself in the imagination of others. So no him being based on a real person does not make it any more scary we have had plenty of scary people walking around for ages and they still do.
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Curt42
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

Part of the brilliance of Bram Stoker was that he was able to take different bits like Vlad the Impaler, Transylvania, vampire bats, wolves, and the mythical vampire itself and combine them like they had never been done before.

I will agree with what has been previously posted, there is no relationship between Vlad and Dracula outside of the fact that they were both scary people. Vlad lived in perilous times and he did what he felt was necessary to bring order to his county. Unfortunaltely this meant exterminating a third of the people. He then crept into the local legends as almost a boogeyman that was used to scare children. His legend grew so that people were afraid to talk about him. Dracula is that time of legend used to scare children.
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

Great posts all – it makes you wonder though, if taking tidbits of myth and legend from a historical figure like Vlad has led to the creation of essentially a new subgenre of horror, what contemporary figure surrounded by myth and legend do you think would be a good basis for books written a century from now? Saddam Hussein? Pol Pot? Britney Spears?
Paul
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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LordRuthven
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

[ Edited ]

paulgoatallen wrote:
Britney Spears?



Total apathy would be the best fate for her and her ilk.

Message Edited by LordRuthven on 10-07-2007 08:26 PM
Derek Tatum
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

Derek:
I knew that you'd say something about the Britney Spears remark!
Paul
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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boleynfan
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

Dick Cheney, of course...

(Sorry, but it was just too obvious not to go for this one!)
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

Yes – how could I forget Cheney? Or even better – OJ!
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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Peppermill
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

Here's a review of a presentation on Dracula/Vlad the Impaler by Dr. Raymond T. McNally at Dr. Elizabeth Miller's first year class at the Memorial University of Newfoundland:

http://www.mun.ca/marcomm/gazette/1997-98/Oct.30/news/n07-drac.htm

(Don't know if I believe the title!)

There are more links on Dracula here:

http://www.googlesyndicatedsearch.com/u/memorial2?q=Dracula&domains=mun.ca&sitesearch=mun.ca

Or go here and search for Dracula:
http://www.mun.ca/
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Peppermill
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

More on the distinctions between Count Dracula, Stoker style, and Vlad the Impaler:

"The people of the Romanian village, Arefe, will make Memorial’s resident Dracula expert, Dr. Elizabeth Miller, one of their own when they bestow on her the title Daughter of Arefe.

'It’s a symbolic gesture like being given the key to the city,' said Dr. Miller, a professor in the Department of English.

"Arefe is in southern Romania, located near the base of the ruins of Cetate Poenari, a fortress built by Vlad the Impaler in the 15th century. It’s one of a number of places in Romania that are associated with the historical Dracula – not the Dracula created by the pen of novelist Bram Stoker. The people in Arefe preserve their connection to Vlad through songs, dances and oral narratives which have kept the legends alive for over 500 years.

"'I think the people there recognize that I am one of the few Western scholars who have worked to keep the two characters separate – the historical Dracula and the literary one. In the popular imagination, the two of them have merged into one,' said Dr. Miller."

http://www.mun.ca/marcomm/gazette/1999-2000/Apr.27/newspage9.html
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

Peppermill:
Great links. I particularly liked the article by Sharon Gray entitled "Here's the Truth about Dracula." Some of my favorite points were:

* "Was Vlad the Impaler a blood drinker?" queried one student. Dr. McNally not only answered the question - Vlad liked to dine among his impaled victims and dip bread in bowls of blood - but also explained that there is a clinical medical term for "living vampires" who drink human blood.

* "In the novel, Dracula is described as having hairy palms, bad breath and pointed ears," she said. "He was repulsive, not romantic. But the movies have romanticized him."

* Vlad Tepes lived in Wallachia (part of modern Romania) in the 15th century. He was a violent man who had an impalent fetishism that extended beyond his preferred method of executing his human enemies. For example, while in jail he amused himself by impaling mice.
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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Peppermill
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

Paul -- glad you enjoyed it! I've reached a point where I would go out of my way to hear Dr. Miller speak -- I wonder what the sizes of her classes are.

I presume you noticed my comment about the title of the article from which you quote: (Don't know if I believe the title!)

paulgoatallen wrote:
Peppermill:
Great links. I particularly liked the article by Sharon Gray entitled "Here's the Truth about Dracula." Some of my favorite points were:

* "Was Vlad the Impaler a blood drinker?" queried one student. Dr. McNally not only answered the question - Vlad liked to dine among his impaled victims and dip bread in bowls of blood - but also explained that there is a clinical medical term for "living vampires" who drink human blood.

* "In the novel, Dracula is described as having hairy palms, bad breath and pointed ears," she said. "He was repulsive, not romantic. But the movies have romanticized him."

* Vlad Tepes lived in Wallachia (part of modern Romania) in the 15th century. He was a violent man who had an impalent fetishism that extended beyond his preferred method of executing his human enemies. For example, while in jail he amused himself by impaling mice.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Impact of the Historical Count Dracula

Pep:
I'm with you – the more I've researched Elizabeth Miller, the more I'm just blown away by her work. I would love to listen in on one of her lectures, I wonder if she still lives in Toronto...
Paul
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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chad
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Myth and Fact

I think Stoker intended for the readers and the world to consider whether vampires actually exist or at least once existed. He combines historical facts and myths to create his character and his story-- Dracula once lived and Transylvania is a real place. But, more broadly, how much of our history is fact? And how much are we prey to our own vision of the past? Is our history an old building that we pass on the street corner, barely visible, but resembling a whirlpool or a vortex that sucks us in?

Happy Halloween by the way!

Chad
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paulgoatallen
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Re: Myth and Fact

Chad:
I couldn't agree with you more – "history" is so subjective and Stoker used that subjectivity brilliantly, blending it with myth and folklore.

By the way, Halloween is a huge event in my neighborhood – I'll be counting how many pint-sized Draculas I see tomorrow night!
Paul
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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chad
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Impact of Historical Count Dracula and the Individual

[ Edited ]
Whether you believe in Dracula or not, his presence makes an impact, like the sun or the moon, or an individual. Some individuals have a strong presence, and others not so strong, who need maybe the support of others, but with others, make an impact like that of a drop of water, creating ripples through time. So, for example, a marraige or a love from a long time ago, possibly something called nobility might be the epicenter or the center of a kingdom, surrounded by walls, that still creates ripples-- I believe nobility is mentioned in Dracula, Dracula is a count, Jonathan and Mina are together seen as a "noble" couple, that is, something with force or stablity that could withstand other forces, even the obligations and duties of marraige, by the way. The count is, or at least wants to believe, that he is a strong individual and I think love is seen as a weakness in the Vampire kingdom. I am a stronger individual, I don't need to be in love. I suppose it is possible for individuals to make strong impacts on the world, but I think it's rare- there are usually followers or disciples, etc. etc. I thought Stoker found it amazing that people continued to be affected by very strong individuals of the past or a very strong love on the past, almost draining the blood or the life of modern or contemporary society... What say you?

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 11-09-2007 02:35 PM
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