Book review: ‘The New Annotated Dracula’
Vail CO, Colorado
First they vanted to suck your blood, and now they vant your wallet.
Yes, the vampire craze is at full tilt with “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer aiming for world domination with her bestselling, bloodsucking series and HBO going goth with the much-ballyhooed new series “TrueBlood.” Who knew there was such a financial windfall in fangs?
To the rescue comes Leslie S. Klinger, the overseer of “The New Annotated Dracula,” to remind us all who did it first, and who did it best. His lavish new tome deconstructing Bram Stoker’s haunting classic is a firm, fun reminder of the fable that launched (seemingly) a thousand franchises.
Klinger takes himself on a trip to the still untamed lands of Transylvania, and follows the trail, and story, right through England to bring us copious notes and observations about the text’s imagery.
With 1,500 footnotes, Klinger’s ode sheds light for the first time on oft-overlooked details and nuances of Jonathan Harker’s fateful meeting with Count Dracula, and the ensuing madness that unfolds.
Klinger refuses to quit with footnotes detailing topography, eastern European history, science and resolving the sometimes antiquated language; he goes further to uncover an alternate ending, which drastically changes the legendary epic’s outcome.
Along the way we’re treated to hundreds of illustrations of Dracula in his various incarnations and interpretations, from the sadistic count to the Hollywood camp that this literary figure came to embody.
Also packaged inside are three essays exploring the evolution of Dracula, the phenomenon, and its place in modern culture. Of the three, “The Public Life of Dracula” is the most relevant, examining the myriad spinoffs of Stoker’s classic, and how the story has manifested itself into all realms of entertainment.
Those with a curiosity of literature, or currently working toward an English degree, will certainly enjoy the professorial “Sex, Lies, and Blood,” which thoroughly, and sometimes tediously, investigates Stoker’s intentions as well as his reflections of the time of its publication in 1897.
Klinger also analyzes all matter of phobias and philias that comprise key plot points and themes. This version of “Dracula” could appropriately serve as a crash course in the science of the macabre.
In a book loaded with bonus materials, easily the most interesting is Klinger’s assertion that Stoker considered his novel nonfiction. Stoker’s insistence that “Dracula” was based upon true events ultimately was subject to much ridicule.
Klinger initiates his research under the premise that Stoker was right that “Dracula” is indeed a true story. With this in mind, the annotated version of the story takes on newly creepy twists, which affirms that new-age vampires come and go, but Dracula is here to stay.
Stephen Bedford works at The Bookworm.
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