critique cache july: dracula, by bram stoker.
i am about to tell you something a bit embarrassing - especially for a self-proclaimed book lover like me. the last time i attempted reading a classic was in 2008. it was wuthering heights, & my bookmark is still collecting dust somewhere between how can there still be a plot line after that happened & i give up.
so i'm sure you can imagine that i was a bit frightened & skeptical when i [digitally, thanks nook!] cracked open dracula, by bram stoker. something a bit funny is that i purchased a hard copy of this particular book on the exact same day i purchased the aforementioned wuthering heights. these purchases were all part of my attempt at absorbing more of the classics (which you can see really took off for me...).
anyway, back to dracula.
my copy of the book had an introduction by brooke allen. and here's where i'm going to tell you another embarrassing little tid-bit about myself: i never read introductions. but, for some reason, i felt like reading the introduction would be a good idea with this particular read. and it was, because i got to read things like this:
'morally and physically ugly as he is, he is so consistently associated with a very real, tangible, even violent beauty that the beauty ends up in some manner becoming a part of him.'
quotes like that one above made me really want to read this book. i was sucked into the story before even beginning it, & for that reason, i urge you to make sure any copy of dracula you decide to pick up has this particular introduction. the one caveat is that you will indeed know how the book ends & what happens to nearly every character if you read it. i'm sure this won't be a problem for most readers, as they have more than likely seen one of the many film adaptations* of dracula. i had not, but knowing the outcome in no way, shape, or form, extinguished my interest in this suspenseful adventure.
if you're like me & enjoy the romantic language of classics [i'm looking at you, jane austen], you will enjoy a similar effect with this novel. as it was written so long ago, you will find the sing-songy prose endearing & engaging. and, well, if you don't enjoy that kind of language, you may find yourself repelled. the one saving grace is that the book is positively brimming with adventure, & that is why i think many men would enjoy this book. it reminded me a lot of one of my dad's favorite novels, timeline, by michael crichton. similarities between the two tomes include quests of epic proportions, gallantry, pacts between groups of people that deal with something nearly unbelievable, & a profound sense of adventure.
something else i found intriguing about this book is how very long any of the characters put off actually speaking the word vampire. they spoke in circles of this particular type of being, never daring to utter the term... wishing, i think, to dispel thoughts of its existence. when the word is finally said aloud, i breathed an almost audible sigh of relief. finally, finally, they had admitted the truth.
for fear of spoiling any part of this book for potential readers, i'm going to leave you in the dark about the plot. but one last thing i'd like to touch on is the aspect of horror in this work of literature. stoker's novel has been put up to that of poe, & i have to say, i agree. as a poe lover myself, i found that same scared-yet-excited feeling in the pages of dracula - and that fear had me holding on until the very last page was turned.
'but my very feelings changed to repulsion and terror when i saw the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over that dreadful abyss, face down, with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings. at first i could not believe my eyes. i thought it was some trick of the moonlight, some weird effect of shadow; but i kept looking, and it could be no delusion. i saw the fingers and toes grasp the corners of the stones, worn clear of the mortar by the stress of years, and by thus using every projection and inequality move downwards with considerable speed, just as a lizard moves along a wall.'
*i do plan to soon view one of the many film adaptations of dracula, & i will be doing a critique cache follow up post on it sometime in the next month or so.
now it's your turn! link up this month & share a critique of a book, movie, or whatever you've been experiencing in the past month. i love hearing about what you like & adding it to my list.