Read For: 19th-20th Century English Literature class
My grandpa has often told me about reading Dracula and/or Frankenstein when he was in school, noting how much he enjoyed the setting descriptions of one or the other. I have not read Frankenstein, but after having now read Dracula by Bram Stoker I have to agree that this book is full of vivid, haunting descriptions of landscapes and graveyards. But the setting isn't the only haunting aspect of this book.
From the very beginning I was drawn into a horrifying story that is at once intriguing and engaging. I tend to be the kind of person that is easily bothered by certain books or movies. In high school, one of the books that bothered me the most was Lord of the Flies. Yet even though this book has gruesome and fearsome aspects to it, I found that I was invested in the story and enjoyed it, as much as this sort of "horror" story can be enjoyed.
The book is written in a different sort of way--as documentation of a series of events, including diary/journal entries, phonograph recordings (transcribed), letters, telegrams, and newspaper clippings. As much as this style would seem to stifle tension and bar reader involvement, the opposite was true for me. Everything was organized in a way that made me want to read more and find out what would happen next, and there was a lot of dialogue written in the accounts. (I don't know how these characters could remember so much!)
This is a somewhat longer and convoluted tale, but it is certainly very interesting. It was especially interesting to me to find out more about the legend of the vampire--very creepy! Even the first few chapters are filled with chilling and intense scenes that set the stage for an epic battle of good vs. evil.
As for the meanings in the book, suffice it to say that it's taught in a college literature class for a reason. There are numerous critical theories about the themes of the book, some of which we've already discussed in our 19th-20th Century English Literature class, including sexuality, inverse biblical symbolism, etc. I don't know which theme is necessarily "right," but I do know that the book is well-written and thought-provoking, filled with symbolism and complex characters.
I was kept in suspense until the very end, and when I finished the final note it was with a mixed sense of relief, accomplishment, and unease that I closed the book. I am glad that I have read it and I think some might be surprised if they pick up this book, in that they might like it more than they originally thought. However, I can't say for sure how each person would react, and along with my recommendation I give a warning that this book has some grotesque, strange, and disturbing scenes and images that might not be suitable for all readers.
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