Friday, October 28, 2022

Dracula at 125

Image from Gorey's illustrated edition of Dracula
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the publication of Bram Stoker's Dracula. First released into the world in 1897, Dracula is a gothic horror novel that solidified the concept of the vampire in English literature, building on the 19th century's previous forays such as John Polidori's The Vampyre (1819), James Malcolm Rymer's penny dreadful Varney the Vampyre (1845-1847) and Sheridan Le Fanu's novella Carmilla (1871-1872). The story, told in epistolary format, begins with a young English solicitor named Jonathan Harker traveling to the Carpathian Mountains to assist the mysterious and aristocratic Count Dracula in purchasing a new home near London. It's not long before Jonathan comes to realize that he is trapped in the Count's castle, and that his host may not be human... 

The novel is remarkable for its conflicted and complex depictions of gender and sexuality, played out in the characterization of both the monster and the heroes. Its not-so-complex depiction of race and foreign peoples marks it as a piece of invasion literature, where a colonizing population faces the anxiety that they will in turn be colonized. Count Dracula makes his way from Eastern Europe to London and begins to exert his influence over its more vulnerable inhabitants, spreading like a disease and reflecting Victorian fears about blood "purity." These themes feed into Dracula's status as one of the most influential horror stories of all time, and its impact on the genre continues to be relevant today.

Stoker himself had a lifelong love of the theater and spent nearly thirty years working for the English stage actor Henry Irving. With that in mind, today we're highlighting a book of plans replicating the Broadway version of Dracula designed by the master of the humorously macabre, Edward Gorey. The plans are intended to be cut out and assembled into a toy theater, though we've declined to take that step.

Come ask for Illus G675dra and take a look yourself. Happy Halloween...