21 May 2012

Dracula - Bram Stoker

Some of you may have noticed that recently I've been reading the classics on and off. Pride and Prejudice was the first classic (other than Shakespeare) that I read, and that was a few (FIVE) years ago now. God I feel old. In the past year or so, I've read George Orwell's '1984', Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World', Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray', and at some point soon I'll be setting my eyes on H G Wells's 'The Time Machine'.

Generally speaking, I've found the classics pretty difficult to read, and none more so than 'Lord of the Rings'. It was like trudging through sticky mud that goes right up to your waist. Though 'Dracula' is (along with Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein') one of the most well-known horror stories ever, it is extremely difficult to read and to keep reading. I ended up reading Dracula in 30 minute bursts, usually ending up with my eyes blearily blinking away sleep. It wasn't that the story is boring, but more that the way it is written does not offer too much attention in this day and age.

Written in a diary form, the book follows a group of people whose lives are severely affected by a certain Count Dracula. It all starts when we follow Jonathan Harker to the Counts castle in Transylvania for a business transaction. Instead, he endures a terrifying ordeal, in which he discovers the Count is not a man, but some kind of monster. The Count has more planned, though, and leaves for England while Jonathan is still stuck in the castle.Soon, the Count has hurt many more people, and the lives and souls of Jonathan's friends and fiancee are at stake.

I had seen the 1992 film adaptation of the novel (featuring a good few excellent actors) before I had read the book, so I knew the story well. It does make a few adjustments to the book that I am not entirely sure about. However, I must admit that the book is not nearly as action-packed and therefore I found it a little lacking. Instead, it relays the feelings and personalities of each of the characters whose diaries we read. it displays the character relationships impeccably and eloquently shows the love that they all feel for one another.

The thought behind this story is evident in the writing and the detail to which Dracula has been given.The idea of vampires has captivated people for years and so the research had to be excellent to provide a character that would fit in with everyones take. And has it worked? I think that the fact it is so well-known 115 years after it was published is proof to that. The in-depth explanations as to why the Count can and cannot do certain things is definitely lacking in the adaptation.

However, it is with some regret that I have to say that a lot of modern audiences would find this book a little dull. There is a lot of conversation, and the events seem to be gone over many times when switching to different speakers. The going is slow, and some diary entries may seem almost pointless. if you're looking for something a bit easier on the mind and with a bit more excitement, I would watch the film.

A good read, but clearly showing its age.6 out of 10