Who was Dracula?

Explaining the evolution of a legend.

Who was Dracula? Bram Stoker’s Trail of Blood
by Jim Steinmeyer
Penguin | ARC paperback, 318 pages
Bram Stoker’s Dracula has been retold, re-made, translated, and molded into the literary great that it is now; whether Stoker we like it or not, the book sacrificed bits and bits of its soul with every interpretation. From the campy B movies of the past and the less than stellar acting of every actor picked for the characters of the book, through the years, the novel has lost some glean of brilliance with every film adaptations.

Twenty pages in to this book, I’ve started to question why I was reading something that was based on a literature that I’ve not read. I have seen countless interpretations in every forms but have never actually read the original work. I may have endeavoured at the time when the infamous Gary Oldman film was released but that was years ago. Sadly, I never did finish the book.

Interestingly enough, there was something in the introduction of this book that caught my eye. That no one really knows Bram Stoker’s Dracula but Bram Stoker himself. We know the beginning, the blood sucking, Mina, Transylvania, the steak through the heart and finally, the end. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of those people. I know the mechanics; I know the gist. But I don’t know the meat and potatoes of the book. The point that I’m making, I supposed, is that the general public – even those who hasn’t read it – would probably know what it’s about. 

For a reader like me, the biggest tragedy of reading Steinmeyer’s book is that I’m not a reader of classic literature – which is the crux of my problem with his book. I was way out of my league. I know the literary greats and have heard of their work but that’s as far as I can go. Because of this, I really couldn’t appreciate Stoker’s influences. One thing’s for certain though; the writers of our generation would be envious of Stroker’s inspirations. They were walking, talking literary greats: Whitman, Irving, Shelley, Wilde. At the time, they were actually alive. 

It’s really interesting how Dracula came to life as parts of Stoker’s life was revealed. From his fascination with the stage and an almost fanatic obsession with Irving, the coined term, art imitating life couldn’t be truer. This book was more of a biography of a writer’s life and how the legend came about. Steinmeyer educates while exposing Dracula as I’ve never seen him before. If you’re a fan of this classic, and wouldn’t mind reading something outside of the fiction box you reside in, Steinmeyer’s book is not to be missed. 
My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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