The New Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker, Leslie S. Klinger, ed.

Rosemarie DiMatteo
Student, MFA
Tutor, Writing Center

What? On Earth?

So you want to really cut somebody down and you say—You’re just a VAMPIRE! But we love vampires. How odd. There are so many ways I love the original Dracula, I could never Count them all. So many questions arise…what are we willing to do to another person to not only survive, but achieve immortality?…and so, is love the ultimate selfish act?…can what we consume kill our souls? (Oh, that one’s rhetorical), and my favorite: Why…So…SERIOUS? Reading the annotated version of Stoker’s book is like having a brilliant buddy along, filling in the most interesting gaps concerning Nineteenth Century culture, some history, and reactions to the work. And then there are those wonderful illustrations….

Vampires have no reflection. No capacity for reflection, as in ‘the unexamined life.’ This reminds me of the most frightening nightmare of my life. I was in the bedroom of my childhood, standing in front of the closet door, heart beating against ribs, and I open the door to see…ME! There I am, sitting on the closet floor looking up at me. I feel like I’m accusing myself. Appalled at myself. THIS was no mirror! THIS was no reflection!
“I am Dracula.” Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola
“Unconventional women abound, Twilight implies, but adherence to the Cult of Domesticity is to be preferred.” Teresa Cotsirilos, The Harvard Book Review
“Release the Bats,” The Birthday Party.

Oh, but Dracula cannot see himself in reflection. Why? HE’S NOT REALLY THERE!
So…are we (Harker) crazy? What is the terrible, inexpressible tragedy that created this text which in turn has become one of the most fertile gardens for comedy EVER?! Was it Vlad, then? Or maybe Casey Anthony? Our ultimate helplessness against the evil of which we are all capable?
I heard Stephenie Meyer talking to an interviewer on some radio show about the popularity of her books and what she thought may be the reason. She giggled and said something like—Oh, I was thinking, like, wouldn’t it be great to like live forever? Of course her books are (I think) all about teenagers. Living forever is not my idea of wonderful. Everyone I knew and loved would die and there I’d be, living. Of course, I could always get to know and love new people, but they, too would die and there I’d be, living. So unless a person is living for herself alone, and not all that attached to anyone else, I suppose immortality would be just peachy. But not for me. And perpetual relationship mode? The kind where you and your S.O. must go around drinking people’s blood? No, I’m just, I mean, this is giving me a headache. I guess that’s why I really like the original Dracula concept. One is plenty. We can have lots of fun with it and ask questions about the nature of evil, etc., etc. But the mountain of vampire dross that followed? Just a bunch of exploitation-ride on Bram’s coat tails in the dark. Ann Rice’s books sell like sex on Canal St. so it’s hard to argue with success. I saw, didn’t read, Interview With a Vampire and found it fascinating, disturbing, radical, naughty, and very colorful. I wonder if the book was a more or less powerful experience?
People say there are no new ideas. It’s funny, but the best stories always seem to spring from tales that already existed in another form—most notably, Shakespeare’s work. So who am I to disparage Anne Rice? We must never fear reaching back into something we found interesting, whether for inspiration or downright thievery! Make it fresh—that’s the key. Fresh and dewy and young and soft and…and…bloody.

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