by Bram Stoker
Illustrated by Ang Lee
Bram Stoker's peerless tale of desperate battle against a powerful, ancient vampire, the Penguin Classics edition of Dracula is edited with notes and an introduction by Maurice Hindle, as well as a preface by Christopher Frayling. When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries in his client's castle.
Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England: a ship runs aground on the shores of Whitby, its crew vanished; beautiful Lucy Westenra slowly succumbs to a mysterious, wasting illness, her blood drained away; and the lunatic Renfield raves about the imminent arrival of his 'master'.
In the ensuing battle of wills between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries - led by the intrepid vampire hunter Abraham van Helsing - Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing into questions of identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire. For this completely updated edition, Maurice Hindle has revised his introduction, list of further reading and notes, and added two appendices: Stoker's essay on censorship and his interview with Winston Churchill, both published in 1908.
Christopher Frayling's preface discusses the significance and the influences that contributed to his creation of the Dracula myth. Abraham 'Bram' Stoker (1847-1912) was educated at Trinity College, Dublin.
Stoker joined the Irish Civil Service, before his love of theatre led him to become the unpaid drama critic for the Dublin Mail.
He went on to act as manager and secretary for the actor Sir Henry Irving while writing his novels, the most famous of which is Dracula (1897). If you enjoyed Dracula, you may like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, also available in Penguin Classics. 'One of the most powerful horror tales ever written' Malcolm Bradbury 'Nobody has ever filmed it like Bram Stoker wrote it' Sir Christopher Lee 'Staggeringly lurid and perverse' Sarah Waters, author of Fingersmith
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 560 pages, chronology, notes
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 27/03/2003
- Category: Classic horror & ghost stories
- ISBN: 9780141439846
- Paperback from £2.50
- Hardback from £7.45
- CD-Audio from £10.19
Showing 1 - 5 of 11 reviews.
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Review by robble
Not very scary or compelling. The first part was absolutely awesome, but Stoker failed to hold the reader enthralled for the entire novel.
Review by soylentgreen23
Okay, so we can agree that "Dracula" is a classic work of fiction - but is it a classic because of the story, or because of the quality of the writing?I find it hard to believe in the latter idea - at least, I have reservations. It seems so odd that each character should have taken the time out from escaping peril and imminent death solely to write something in their diary or journal, documenting it all for our sake.On the other hand, this could be seen as an example of a writer begging for the postmodern to arrive - compare the diary format with the stream-of-consciousness writing that arrived a few generations later, and perhaps things begin to make more sense.
Review by towo
Well, the classic vampire story. Dracula as the charming, plotting, intelligent fellow who almost manages to invade England.And, in contrast to the movies, the characters aren't as supersized. Decent fiction.
Review by Sean_RMIT
Frankly I don't like Stokers style of writing, its high brow and flowery. Having said this his originality and the overall composition of this story are excellent. If you can see past its obvious shortcomings its a good read.
Review by BenDV
Dracula is without a doubt the weakest 'classic' novel I've ever read. Around the internet I've seen all of these reviews about how it's such a creepy novel which is engaging and tense and amazing. Am I reading the same book? This is one of the blandest novels I've ever read! Certainly nowhere near as good as the other Gothic novels I've read (Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, The Picture of Dorian Gray). But it's also one of the most frustrating novels I've ever read, because there is genuine potential here for a great novel. However, Stoker utterly wastes it all and instead delivers something readable, but too long, free of tension and utterly forgettable.For those who don't know, the plot of the novel is basically this; Dracula imprisons Jonathan Harker in his castle in Transylvania, and through this we become aware that Dracula intends to go to live, or more correctly be Undead, in London, where he will have the opportunity to turn many more women into his brides. This leads to him feeding on Lucy Westenra, a friend of Mina Harker, Jonathan's wife. Lucy is thus attended to by Dr. Seward, who calls in Professor Van Helsing from Amsterdam to assist in caring for Lucy, as no one can tell what is wrong with her other than her being anemic. Van Helsing knows all about vampires, and so as a result of this and the reappearance of the Harker's, the characters become aware of Dracula and his scheme and set out to foil him.Stoker's first problem is his characters. As far as I'm concerned, Dracula is a novel without a main character. No character steps forward as the protagonist, the one whose plight this mainly is, and who we should see as driving the story. Instead Stoker gives us four characters who between them write almost all of the novel and dominate the novel (which, in case you didn't know, is presented as consisting of many different extracts from different character's diaries, as well as letters and a few newspaper extracts); Seward, Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker and Van Helsing. Firstly, for me, four main characters is way too many. It prevents Stoker from really developing any particular character, who we can focus on and really come to care about. But that is almost the least of Stoker's problems with the characters. What's worse is how incredibly dull these people are. They are all just presented as two-dimensional upright upper-class people who we should admire for being so God-fearing, courageous and polite. That's it. Now I know that one of the main characteristics of a Gothic novel is having a highly moral tone in which we can clearly see what characters we should aspire to be like and which we should think of as evil, but if you're actually intending to write an interesting novel, why would you make the pure characters, i.e. the boring ones, the leads? It creates a novel that is dominated by bland people having dull conversations in which they spend unbelievable amounts of time telling each other how wonderful they think everyone else is. You don't feel that they are wonderful people either; you're just told, over and over again. It really sucks. What's even worse is how intensely unnecessary it is to have so many characters. Not only do we have Van Helsing, Seward and Harker, we also have Quincey Morris and Arthur/Lord Godalming, the former of which may just be the most unnecessary character in fiction. They're so redundant even Stoker seems to forget they exist at certain points of the novel. These men are all intensely dull, and could easily have been cut down into at most 3 people- Seward could've been combined with Godalming, and Quincey Morris could have been cut all together. What's even worse about all these characters is they speak in exactly the same style, meaning that quite frequently I can't tell which one of them is talking. Stoker does try to distinguish Van Helsing as the foreigner by making him say things wrong every once in a while, but this just seems unnecessary and a bit condescending.But, you say, there are other significant characters in Dracula! Yes there are; there's Lucy Westenra, Renfield and of course the titular character himself. Let's start with Lucy; she can't really claim to be a main character, because for most of her time in the novel she's either asleep or just not talking. Yet despite that everyone seems to think she is amazing, so amazing that three men propose to her on the same day in Chapter 6, one of the most unentertaining chapters I have ever read, where a bunch of boring characters I don't know or have been given any reason to care about have emotionless conversations with each other, retold in letter form. But anyway, she isn't a main character, because she isn't really active in the story. She's just a thing used to move the plot along.Then there's Renfield. Renfield is actually kind of interesting; his behaviour is bizarre, unpredictable and a bit unsettling. Sections involving him are undoubtedly intriguing. But then all the stuff around him just comes to nothing. So Stoker just lets one of the more interesting parts of the novel fade away into nothing.And then there is the character of Dracula himself. You'd think he'd be the main character wouldn't you? I mean the book is named after him, so why not? Well it's clear that Stoker didn't know much about how to write an interesting novel, because rather than put his most interesting character at the centre of the novel, he basically makes him nothing more than a background figure after the first five chapters. It would have been great to have the complexities of this character explored, and made him into a real character. Instead he just remains almost as two-dimensional as every other character.In the five chapters at the beginning of the novel, in which Dracula is at his most prominent, it is also not really established that Dracula is in fact evil. In fact to me he just ends up coming across as a slightly weird, but deeply passionate man. Here's what is supposed to convince us he's evil; he doesn't appear in a mirror (a trait which doesn't appear again in the novel); he reacts strangely to blood; he imprisons Harker; he sleeps in a coffin; he associates with crazy ghost-women; and it's implied he kidnaps children. Okay, all of this is pretty weird and sinister, but Stoker doesn't push these events enough to really establish that Dracula is evil. Claiming a character is evil is a big claim, and it takes a lot to make them seem convincingly diabolical. Stoker doesn't do enough to assure that. The Count does come to seem more evil later in the novel when his appearances are more fleeting, but it would've been nice to have had a character of depth who was convincingly evil. But then again, maybe that isn't possible; maybe Stoker didn't expand on the Count because he knew that 'evil' and 'depth of character' don't really go together. I'm not entirely sure that's true, but maybe it is. It certainly doesn't help that there is a contradiction in the fact that Stoker makes characters attest to the Count's evilness time and time again, but alludes to the fact that once upon a time the Count was a good person. It makes me pity the Count as a victim rather than see him as pure evil. There is a second major flaw with this novel which is perhaps the cause of all the above problems, or just goes hand-in-hand with them. The problem is Stoker's writing itself. It gives a sense of blandness to everything, taking most of the tension out and adding to the novel's mediocrity. It's undoubtedly a major reason the Count doesn't seem evil and all the characters seem to be exactly the same- even the Count and Van Helsing, two of the more interesting characters, don't seem that different from those upright English folk. They all speak in the same bland Victorian English at any rate. This makes the novel seem long, slow and almost painfully bland at times.So Stoker wastes the novel's potential almost completely. I say almost, because there are a few great scenes in Dracula. For one, Stoker deals with the Brides' of Dracula excellently, the few times they appear. There is the occasional thrilling scene, though they disappear almost completely in the second half of the novel. For the most part though, Dracula just passes by in an inoffensive, unremarkable fashion, occasionally annoying me through characters talking about nothing for too long or a plot flaw, of which there are a few. Overall, I just don't think Dracula has stood the test of time the way other Gothic novels have.
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