Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

Dracula: A chivalrous journey into the world of “Un-Dead”

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on August 15, 2012

Life is something we claim to know. On the other hand, death is perceived as the unyielding, mysterious and inscrutable other side that we can only conjecture about with a tinge of dread and resignation. Between these worlds of Life and Death lies an unknown space. And writers over ages have creatively exploited this space by infusing elements of fantasy to create a world that lurks in the shadows of belief and disbelief. It is this same space that Bram Stoker uses to create a mildly terrifying world of “Un-Dead” in his novel “Dracula”.

The commonly accepted wisdom is that life progresses into death and potentially regenerates itself. The “Un-Dead” is unacceptably unnatural, for, it has the curse of immortality riding on it and to sustain itself, it preys on life. The very process of preying multiplies the Un-Dead creating an imbalance in the natural order of the world

 ……the powers of the Un-Dead. When they become such, there comes with the change the curse of immortality. They cannot die, but must go on age after age adding new victims and multiplying the evils of the world. For all that die from the preying of the Un-dead become themselves Un-dead, and prey on their kind. And so the circle goes on ever widening, like as the ripples from a stone thrown in the water

which needs to be corrected

Stoker converts this need of restoring balance into an absorbing tale of chivalry, sacrifice, camaraderie around an uplifting purpose of protecting humanity at large. In the process, Stoker also bequeathed to reading public, a nerve tingling lore of blood-thirsty vampires and two unforgettable characters in Dracula and Van Helsing

However, what makes this novel a memorable read is its epistolary form and the overall atmospherics. From the picturesque landscape of Transylvanian mountains to the hustle bustle of London or the seaside town of Whitby, the writing evokes a bygone era of steam trains, telegrams, typewriters, transcontinental travel, buggies and clash of science and superstition. Stoker demonstrates a fine ear for local patois and makes the conversations enjoyable in what otherwise is a serious and fast paced tale of gore and horror and a chivalrous journey into the world of “Un-Dead”

(A version of the same has been submitted as an assignment to a course on Fantasy and Science Fiction that I am pursuing at http://www.coursera.org)

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