The New Annotated Dracula Hardback
by Bram Stoker
Edited by Leslie S. Klinger
Part of the The Annotated Books series
In his first work since his best-selling The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Leslie S.
Klinger returns with this spectacular, lavishly illustrated homage to Bram Stoker's Dracula.
With a daring conceit, Klinger accepts Stoker's contention that the Dracula tale is based on historical fact.
Traveling through two hundred years of popular culture and myth as well as graveyards and the wilds of Transylvania, Klinger's notes illuminate every aspect of this haunting narrative (including a detailed examination of the original typescript of Dracula, with its shockingly different ending, previously unavailable to scholars).
Klinger investigates the many subtexts of the original narrative-from masochistic, necrophilic, homoerotic, "dentophilic," and even heterosexual implications of the story to its political, economic, feminist, psychological, and historical threads.
Employing the superb literary detective skills for which he has become famous, Klinger mines this 1897 classic for nuggets that will surprise even the most die-hard Dracula fans and introduce the vampire-prince to a new generation of readers.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 672 pages, 35 color; 400 black & white
- Publisher: WW Norton & Co
- Publication Date: 02/01/2009
- Category: Classic horror & ghost stories
- ISBN: 9780393064506
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.
Review by drneutron
Dracula's not a new story for me - or for nearly anyone - but The New Annotated Dracula was a refreshing look at this old story. Leslie Klinger's slight "editorial conceit" is that Dracula is based on actual events described by the Harkers, and that the extant source material shows the evolution of the story as Stoker tries to disguise the people and places involved without destroying the core of the story. He then uses the source material (a set of research notes and an early manuscript showing hand written corrections) and clues from the manuscript to work out timelines and settings for the "real" story, which are described in a great (in number and in interest) set of notes to the text. Add an introduction by Neil Gaiman and a set of appendices discussing the later history in book and film of the Dracula story and a brief introduction to literary analysis of the story, and we get a really nice reference volume. Klinger's work points out several things that I'd never noticed in previous readings. First and foremost, Van Helsing isn't the know-it-all expert on vampires I expected him to be. We have this picture of him as a wise old vampire hunter, but in reality, Stoker paints him as a very intelligent scientist confronted by a new field with very practical and immediate consequences. Van Helsing needs to go off and do research, he makes mistakes, he misinterprets vampire behavior and constraints. So in reading the story this time, he became a more real character for me. The other eye-opening came with the alternate interpretation of Quincey Morris' behavior, especially as it relates to Dracula's death. It's possible to infer that in fact, Dracula escaped in the end, an idea that really intrigued me. Neither of these ideas are new, but Klinger's work really laid out the cases nicely.While the notes were great, and Klinger did a great job introducing Stoker's life and the immediate history of the book, I thought the appendices were a bit weak. There are definitely other places to go for a better recounting of post-Stoker Dracula works. There's a lot of analysis of the story out there, but Klinger sticks with the standby interpretation of vampirism as a substitute for sex. Ok, that's fine, but his analysis is a bit shallow, and a bit tired. If you haven't read Dracula yet, I suspect the format of the book and all the notes will be distracting. If you've read and enjoyed the story, this edition will probably add to the richness of the text and you may want to consider it for your next reread.
Review by Crowyhead
I was a bit disappointed to realize that <i>Dracula</i> does not stand up very well to re-reading, at least in my opinion -- a lot of plot elements that seem to make sense the first time around show themselves to be riddled with holes with re-reading. I still love Mina, though.What really made this a five-star read for me were the marvelously detailed and witty annotations from Leslie Klinger. As with his masterful work on <i>The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes</i>, Klinger works from the tongue-in-cheek assumption that <i>Dracula</i> is a fictionalized record of true events. This prompts cattiness over the confusion of dating the events of the book, since the moon is full every time it's mentioned, but also offers loopholes for some of the more egregious errors in the novel: clearly, the reason Van Helsing is a wildly incompetent medical doctor is that the "real" Van Helsing was not a medical doctor at all, and this vocation has been added in order to disguise the identity of the real Van Helsing! In addition to these amusements, the notes are riddled with information about Transylvanian geography and culture, historical and modern views on vampirism, and all kinds of useless trivia that is just ridiculously fun for a nerd like me.
Review by dmsteyn
Well, and what can one really say about Dracula that has not already been said (in a better or worse way)? This book revealed to me that the subject has not been, ahem, sucked dry. Leslie Klinger does a brilliant job of reanimating the desiccated corpse that is Dracula. Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, everyone knows about Dracula, or think they do. But most of that knowledge is decidedly of the popular ilk, based on other media like cinema. Frankenstein’s monster is an example of how this “knowledge” can be mistaken. In the same vein (if you’ll excuse the pun), Dracula himself has been appropriated by mass culture, turning him into a svelte, handsome aristocrat. Stoker’s actual vampire is an old man with facial hair, for crying out loud! And he can survive in sunlight, though the misunderstanding here is a bit more forgivable, as Stoker himself seems to be unsure about this (Dracula walks around during the day, at times, yet Van Helsing says that daylight destroys vampires). Strange how the mythic images we grow up with relate to the reality of their origins.Even if you have not read Dracula, you should have an idea (how ever warped) about what happens in the novel: Jonathan Harker comes to Transylvania to arrange the affairs of a mysterious count (a title which Klinger notes did not actually exist in Transylvania at the time), who wishes to emigrate to England. Harker becomes embroiled in a dark adventure in Dracula’s castle, where he is imprisoned and accosted by beautiful female vampires. Dracula arrives in England after an eventful sea voyage, and then the fun really begins, with stakings, blood transfusions, and a lot of searching for boxes of earth. In the end, Dracula is forced to flee back to his castle, where he gets destroyed (or does he?) and the gallant heroes rejoice.What Klinger does in this annotated edition is quite interesting. He gives copious notes on background, points out inconsistencies, and collates the published version of Dracula (both the 1897 and later abridged version) with the Manuscript. This manuscript is in private hands, and Klinger is apparently the first person to critically compare it to the extant novel. It reveals many interesting titbits, including a slightly different end to the novel. I thought that some of Klinger’s notes verged on the side of nit-picking, and some were overly long, but on the whole, they added a fascinating extra dimension to the story.One thing I did find strange was Klinger’s approach to the novel: he writes the notes as though the events of the novel actually occurred, and Stoker merely transcribed them in a fictional manner to conceal the identity of the characters. Although this is a harmless bit of tongue-in-cheek, it does start to become a little gratuitous at times, which grates. Klinger’s obsessive collating of the dates, times of the moon, tide, etc. became a bit ridiculous, as he tried to date the time of the “actual events”. There is nothing wrong with being thorough, but it can (and does) get taken a bit too far, in my opinion. Apparently, he also did this with the Annotated Sherlock Holmes, so it seems a bit of a trademark.The story of Dracula remains a seminal horror text: it is a great adventure, and is (for the most part) much better written than one might expect. Anyone who is interested in speculative fiction or the count should get this book. Despite its somewhat studious character, Klinger does an excellent job of elucidating the cultural milieu and the background on vampire lore. As an added bonus, the book contains appendices on Dracula in other media (mostly film and on stage), the influence of Dracula on some other writers (with special focus on Anne Rice and the “Buffy the Vampire-Slayer” universe), and even an essay on Dracula in academic writing.I am glad I read this book. It is always good to get back to the ur-myths of modern society. With the popularity of vampire stories in the present market, and their (for the most part) utter banality, it is good to get back to the original text, and examine it critically but lovingly.
Review by fugitive
This book rocks. When the library received a copy of Klinger's <em>The New Annotated Dracula</em> a few years ago, I picked it up and within about 10 minutes had it on my "must have wish list." Courtesy of a couple of book store gift cards for Xmas, I was able to get my personal copy yesterday. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone considering a first read of Bram Stoker's <em>Dracula</em>. First time readers of the novel should get a cheap paperback copy or check one out of the library (i.e., read a non-annotated version). THEN you get this book. Especially if you're an anal retentive trivia buff who might also be a dilettante historian or reference librarian or both. The density of the annotation is impressive. Klinger ensures that no stone, no matter how trivial, goes unturned. For example: Mina Harker notes in her journal, "I suppose this upset him, for when we were in town on Thursday last he had a sort of a shock." "Thursday last" is footnoted with: "The Harkers were in town on 22 September and possibly on 21 September as well. The 22nd was a Thursday only in 1887 and 1892 in the range of acceptable dates, and Peter Haining (<em>The Dracula Centenary Book</em>) seizes on 1887 as the year, claiming privately expressed assent from Leonard Wolf (editor of <em>The Annotated Dracula</em>)." And THAT is only half of the footnote! Some of the annotations are veritable full essays on topics such as the fear of being buried alive in Victorian times, an analysis of how proficient rat terriers are at killing rats, and a mini-treatise on the development of the phonograph (used by Dr. Seward to record his diaries), among a plethora of others.This book works as a great scholarly read, but I confess to setting it in the bathroom for random perusal during quiet moments.
Review by msjessicamae
Last year I decided that it was about time I read Dracula. I had seen Leslie Klinger's The New Annotated Dracula and knew this was the version that I had to own. It was not before long that I realized this was the wrong version for my first time Dracula read. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE all of the information but the annotations were so lengthy and drew me in (cue: me flipping through the pages to read a note that was referenced 3 chapters earlier) it was going to take me 3 times as long to get through the book. I finally had to ignore most of the notes, knowing that I would be able to read them later.My favorite part of the book would have to be the beginning, when Jonathan is at Dracula's castle. The descriptions are great, with just enough creepiness to get my heart pumping. I am ashamed to say that I was totally in the dark about how the book ended. I did not know what happened to Dracula, I actually thought the exact opposite happened. It was a surprising revelation as well as a fun one. It is nice (and a bit pathetic) to be surprised by the end of a classic.I found it interesting that Dracula's connection with Mina reminded me of Voldemort and Harry Potter. The marks on the forehead and the mental connections that they had were similar enough that I began to wonder if J.K. Rowling had any inspiration from Dracula while writing HP.I am so glad I can finally say that I have read Dracula. It was an interesting story that I waited way too long to finally read. Now that I have finished, I am excited the next Halloween I will dive in again. I wonder what kind of details I missed the first time around.