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paulgoatallen
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The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

Okay everyone, here's something to ponder. Abraham Stoker's Dracula was first published in 1897, more than a century ago! During that time, hundreds of thousands of novels have been published and the bulk of them are now long out of print. Also, in that span of 110 years, human society has evolved by leaps and bounds – Stoker would be completely lost in the 21st century. It's a completely different world.

Why is Dracula – which according to Brooke Allen in her introduction to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Dracula (ISBN 1593081146, $6.95) was considered nothing more than a "slightly cheesy thriller" when it was first released – still so wildly popular today? Why do you think this story has become so timeless?

I'd love to hear what you think!
Paul



http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&bnit=H&bnrefer=TALKABOUTBOOKS&EAN=97...
"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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Nadine
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)



paulgoatallen wrote:
Okay everyone, here's something to ponder. Abraham Stoker's Dracula was first published in 1897, more than a century ago! During that time, hundreds of thousands of novels have been published and the bulk of them are now long out of print. Also, in that span of 110 years, human society has evolved by leaps and bounds – Stoker would be completely lost in the 21st century. It's a completely different world.

Why is Dracula – which according to Brooke Allen in her introduction to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Dracula (ISBN 1593081146, $6.95) was considered nothing more than a "slightly cheesy thriller" when it was first released – still so wildly popular today? Why do you think this story has become so timeless?

I'd love to hear what you think!
Paul



http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&bnit=H&bnrefer=TALKABOUTBOOKS&EAN=97...




I wasn't going to join this group but maybe I will now. Thanks for the link. It does sound intriguing. I have never read the book and I'm sure most of the movies are nowhere near like it. But I was wondering about the Béla Lugosi version that is now restored. I remember seeing it many years ago and it seemed to emphasis the story line more than the blood and gore ones.

http://video.barnesandnoble.com/search/product.asp?z=y&bnit=H&bnrefer=BSDCLASSIC&EAN=025192445521&it...

What movie would you say is the closest to the book? Both book and Béla Lugosi Legacy DVD are available at my B&N store and I could pick them up tomorrow.
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

Nadine:
Hey, thanks for sticking around – I'm actually just starting to post some really interesting threads so check back in a few hours! As to your question, that's a tough one – it's been said many times that the greatest Dracula movie ever made was Nosferatu, which I believe was made back in the 1920s but I've only seen clips of it so I can't really give you a complete opinion on that particular movie. I like the Lugosi version as well as the 1992 version starring Gary Oldham but, man, are there some crappy ones out there! If you want to laugh out loud, rent the 1979 Dracula which starred Frank Langella (I may be spelling his name wrong). Ugh!
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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genac
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

I think Dracula is still creeping people out because of two things:
a.) stokers writing, while initially boring begins to suck at your mind and rivet you to the plot.
b.) vampirism isn't all that far removed from cannibalism, one of humanities deepest taboos. we are always going to be shocked by it.
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paulgoatallen
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

Gena:
Good point about cannabalism – I instantly thought of the Thomas Harris Hannibal Lecter novels when I read your post. I can see similarities between the two main characters – both are brilliant, charming – and oh so entertaining!

I was just talking about a book I bought years ago about the historic Count Dracula (In Search of Dracula: A True History of Dracula and Vampire Legends by Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu) and one of the things that most intrigued and appalled me was his blatant cannabalism. One of the most gruesome passages of the book was: "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..."

I'd have to disagree with you that Stoker's writing is boring. Maybe when judged against today's over-the-top, sexuality and violence laden thrillers but if you consider when it wa written, I think it's just amazing that it is still just as engaging – and in its way timely – after more than a century!
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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Curt42
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

One of the things that has allowed DRACULA to endure is its timelessness in setting and background just like Sherlock Holmes. A production could be made of the story setting in 2007 with change beyond updating the technology. Although we tbink of the story as being around the turn of the century, beyond the technology or maybe lack thereof, there is nothing to date it. Earlier this year, I was a reader for a mystery writing competition. Eight of the twelve entries had topical reference such as politics, social issues, or slang to name a few that tied the stories to the present. Unless the book is extremely well written like the cold war thriller THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, the shelf life of the book will be greatly limited. Stoker avoided this trap by making his novel character driven, not current event driven.

In reference to the comment about the book being boring, there was a different writing style of the time that was not based upon action but upon characters and interaction.
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LordRuthven
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

There are many reasons why Dracula endures, but one of the reasons I like it is the format. While relaying the accounts via letters, diary entries, etc. can be a little off-putting to a modern audience, it gives the book a weird feeling of reality. By pulling the threads together, the audience is privy to knowledge some of the characters aren't aware of yet, which makes it even more suspenseful. I also like that what wee know is told from the character's POV. Even the famous chapter about Dracula's powers and limitations, that is all told from the perspective of Van Helsing's research and observations - even that may or may not be true.
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Peppermill
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)


LordRuthven wrote {ed.}: There are many reasons why Dracula endures, but one of the reasons I like it is the format. While relaying the accounts via letters, diary entries, etc. can be a little off-putting to a modern audience, it gives the book a weird feeling of reality. By pulling the threads together, the audience is privy to knowledge some of the characters aren't aware of yet, which makes it even more suspenseful. I also like that what we know is told from the character's POV. Even the famous chapter about Dracula's powers and limitations, that is all told from the perspective of Van Helsing's research and observations - even that may or may not be true.
The unreliable narrator technique!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unreliable_narrator
(Interesting -- Dracula is not on the list of examples.)

http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/litgloss/LitGlosscode/litgloss_n.html

Here's a link on the timelessness of Dracula:

http://classiclit.about.com/cs/productreviews/fr/aafpr_bramdrac.htm

"As James B. Twitchell says, 'There have been many twentieth century novelists... who have dealt with the vampire, but none so strikingly as Stoker.'"
"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 Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

Pepper:
Great links, especially the one concerning Dracula. Many thanks!
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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foxycat
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

I disagree about the film versions. "Nosferatu" and the Lugosi Dracula are great films, but the closest to the novel was Langella's. He also did a NYC theater version for several years before he did the movie,and I had seen that too. He was a very sexy man at the time, and you can understand why Lucy was drawn to him. Sex is associated with death here. Of course the earlier movies couldn't let sex get into it. I've not seen any other versions intentionally, because most of them are sensationalist crap.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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boleynfan
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

[ Edited ]
I must confess that I almost put the book down for good in the first 30 pages. I always tell my 14 yr old to give a book at least 50 pages, but it was hard to take my own advice. Perhaps I was expecting more menace right away and I certainly was not drawn to Jonathan. I only trudged on because the book was a gift from a dear friend who raved about it. And I had already registered with this group!

Glad I stuck with it, because at page 150, I am looking for more time to read!!

Message Edited by boleynfan on 10-11-2007 12:34 PM
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LordRuthven
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)



foxycat wrote:
I've not seen any other versions intentionally, because most of them are sensationalist crap.




I think that the original novel is sensationalistic crap. It's one of my favorite books, but I am not going to pull punches with what it is.
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Peppermill
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)


LordRuthven wrote:

foxycat wrote:
I've not seen any other versions intentionally, because most of them are sensationalist crap.
I think that the original novel is sensationalistic crap. It's one of my favorite books, but I am not going to pull punches with what it is.
LOL!
"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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LordRuthven
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)



Peppermill wrote:
LOL!




I've always found it funny that it is considered and often labelled a "classic," simply due to its age. To be completely objective, "Dracula" doesn't have loftier goals than to thrill and titillate its readers. I think that there are subtexts to the novel, but I don't think they were intentional; I feel the novel's depth is in the way Stoker inadvertantly tapped into subconscious desires and nightmares.

And there is nothing wrong with an author merely wanting to entertain.
Derek Tatum
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foxycat
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

Interesting. So if he only wanted to entertain, the public made it a classic by finding all sorts of subtexts? Then again, IS it a classic or just still in print? Is it just selling well because of the many screen and theater versions, and people are curious? I read Leroux's "Phantom of the Opera" a few years ago, also out of curiosity, and it was just awful, yet it's still in print. There have been at least 5 film versions and a play, and I wonder if that's not keeping the book in print. I don't consider the book a classic, as it has no value below the surface story. Ditto "Manon Lescaut," which has been made into operas twice, and is still in print.

Has anyone explored Stoker's life well enough to say if he put any subtext in it intentionally?

LordRuthven wrote:

I've always found it funny that it is considered and often labelled a "classic," simply due to its age. To be completely objective, "Dracula" doesn't have loftier goals than to thrill and titillate its readers. I think that there are subtexts to the novel, but I don't think they were intentional; I feel the novel's depth is in the way Stoker inadvertantly tapped into subconscious desires and nightmares.

And there is nothing wrong with an author merely wanting to entertain.

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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foxycat
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

[ Edited ]
Paul--

Just checked --the Sales Rank is 25,562. BN isn't the only book company in the world, but the book is not so popular, just still in print.

Message Edited by foxycat on 10-11-2007 11:40 PM
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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LordRuthven
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)



foxycat wrote:
Interesting. So if he only wanted to entertain, the public made it a classic by finding all sorts of subtexts? Then again, IS it a classic or just still in print? Is it just selling well because of the many screen and theater versions, and people are curious?




You raise a lot of good questions. I think "Dracula" endures because of a combination of these reasons. I'd say that it is not a classic in the bonafide, high falutin' sense of the word, it is just still in print. And I doubt it will ever go out of print. "Dracula" just keeps on going, and its appeal never goes away. I'd say that the various adapatations don't hurt, and its reputation also preceeds it. Good point about "Phantom of the Opera." While I don't think that Leroux is terrible, he is definitely a pulp writer of his times (but that's ok because I like sensationalism).
Derek Tatum
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Peppermill
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)


foxycat wrote:
Paul--

Just checked --the Sales Rank is 25,562. BN isn't the only book company in the world, but the book is not so popular, just still in print.
Rochelle -- remember that Dracula is available in a lot of versions.
"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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foxycat
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

Yes, but BN would be selling many publishers, not just one. And they are huge. I'll check out Amazon and Borders and get back to you. G'night.



Peppermill wrote:

foxycat wrote:
Paul--

Just checked --the Sales Rank is 25,562. BN isn't the only book company in the world, but the book is not so popular, just still in print.
Rochelle -- remember that Dracula is available in a lot of versions.


Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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foxycat
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Re: The Timelessness of Dracula (First Published in 1897!)

Actually, I spoke too soon. I'm replacing Choisya :smileyvery-happy: You're right; you would have to really find how many were being sold in ALL versions per year.I don't think those stats could be found easily. Fugeddaboutit.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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