Vlad, the Impaler! Is that you?!! Oh, nope, just my kids lurking inside during summer break. Though, I am starting to think my kids are vampires. They are afraid to go outside due to a strange fear of heat and the sun. They almost hiss at me with disdain with just the mention of going outside to play. “The sun’s out. It’s too hot!” Then they scurry like little bats up to their rooms where they play an endless amount of Legos and act out scenes from Harry Potter. Even my son pretends play that he is Lord Voldemort, who himself is kind of vampire looking. And also right around dusk, they both begin to act looney and get a second wind to just destroy the house. I am almost believing in their vampire transformation, save for the fact that my kids like shiny things and they like garlic, whether or not they know that themselves, but they don’t implode after I feed it to them. So that’s a good sign.
My kids may or may not be turning into vampires, but thinking about the terror of them actually becoming vampires with the capability of turning into bats or wolves and then becoming more picky eaters to just a daily dose of human blood terrifies me. Which, for obvious reasons, made me start thinking about Dracula, the novel by Abraham (Bram) Stoker. As you know, I love great literature, who doesn’t really, and Dracula is up there with awesomeness. The story itself has been depicted in movies and inspired numerous other projects from TV shows to comic books. Good ole Bram published other well received stories, but Dracula… it was the pinnacle of his career. And if you have ever read the actual story itself, his writing is for that time innovative and inspiring. I read somewhere that he did write some unpublished poetry but he didn’t need to publish poems to see that his writing was poetry in Dracula! Just search for quotes taken from the book, and you can see that his word choice was deliberate and great:
“I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.”
Or how about:
“Loneliness will sit over our roofs with brooding wings.”
“There are mysteries which men can only guess at, which age by age they may solve only in part.”
It’s like poetry. Lovely isn’t it? Written as diary entries or letters, the form of the story takes on a more personal level to the reader. You are getting a sneak peek into these characters thoughts. Bram tried to make you the character, seeing things from their eyes. Like I had discussed about good character writing before, Today I’ll Use My Feminine Wiles With a Dash of Gunpowder, it really makes the whole story feel more personal when characters are developed and hold a sense of truth that we all can relate to.
But I’m no Bram Stoker expert. Or even a literary critic. I just like things and I talk about them, or I get a feel for something and share my thoughts. And one thing that always interests me, especially when you read something like Dracula, is what has the author put of themselves into the story? It’s true, writers write what they know. But that doesn’t mean for instance, since I worked in law enforcement, all I should write about is crime and cop related. It more means that since I know that part of the career world, I know about the stress, the mystery, the danger and horror. I also know about the human condition, how in times of peril, humans do great and amazing things, but can also be bad and terrible. That may translate into my writing about things that are dark and moody (my favorite!), or even craft a story about survival.
So back to Dracula and Mr. Stoker. Curious to think about of what Mr. Stoker put of himself in this story. From what I know and have read about Bram Stoker, is that he would rarely put himself personally out there. You won’t find many purposeful poems or writings that would divulge any type of personal mental thoughts. I do know that he wrote to Walt Whitman in a touching letter about how Leaves of Grass spoke to him, which does say something to his personality as someone who is interested in things that are out of norm, things that make you see things beyond what exists on the outside. Besides the graphic horror and supposed metaphorical sexual nuances, and above the apparent religious influences, there lies the basic story that is about a fight for existence, purpose and love. And those ideals I just mentioned aren’t just for the good guys, what about Dracula himself? His threatened loss of purpose and existence in a world that is developing and moving forward, where he tried to do the same but his past and his lost love hold him to a world that is just truly fading away from his control. When you look at it that way, you almost have to have some sympathy for “Drac” and sympathize with monster he is.
Bram Stoker had a dodgy youth, where he was afflicted by some malaise, but recovered nicely to be an athlete and writer, then eventually meeting very influential people in the theatre and art world where he was able to flourish in his written word. He rubbed elbows with the most thought provoking people of his time, including Oscar Wilde and Henry Irving. Nothing in his great although rather mundane upward journey from civil servant to a well-received author, gave the opinion that he contained some shadows. So, one begins to wonder, where was this dark corner that his subconscious existed? Sure he was obviously influenced in some way to write Dracula, whether through someone else’s writing, work of art, or historic tradition (depending on what biographical opinion you read), but it’s the core of the novel and the darkness that came from him. Bram Stoker went from writing letters for Henry Irving to creating horror in his stories. And unlike another great and influential horror storyteller/poet, Edgar Allan Poe, who wore his demons on his sleeve, Bram Stoker showed none of that, other than through his stories. People that are able to create such terrifying, complexing and dark characters don’t go around just skipping and thinking about butterflies, sunsets and chirping finches outside a window…..at 5:30 in the morning, waking you up when all you want to do is sleep for just 30 more minutes! (Aargh)
So Bram, I see you in there. You may not have to write poetry to show me your inner feelings and thoughts, its right there in all your glorious writing in Dracula. Your own struggle and to find a purpose and an outlet to feel your existence, that you are a part of the world and that your voice may be heard. Bram, you may or may not have had a deep inner love for someone that was unattainable to you. Maybe Bram, you even struggled with your own religious beliefs and how to believe in something when evil exists and is prevalent. I hear you. And thank you for showing us you, buried six feet deep, in the dusty, confined world of words in Dracula.
PS. On a side note, I had posted a poem of mine yesterday and somehow my scheduler got messed up and therefore strange things occurred and I am not sure if Wordpress got it posted correctly. Nonetheless, please visit my own musings on getting old and still trying to find your way in life (uplifting I know)….Weary Wanderings in a Silver Sea