Dracula, the Novel, Initial Thoughts

  1. Jonathan Harker’s journal makes a great beginning. The story therein is quite moody and wonderfully tense, and the uncertainty at the end carries a reader well into the next part of the book.
  2. The letters and diaries of Mina and Lucy that follow not only further unfold the plot but also reveal the voices and natures of these two young ladies. I suspect Stoker had a great time writing from their point of view.
  3. I had forgotten just how drawn out and dramatic Lucy’s “illness” is in the book. Most of it is told from Dr. Seward’s point of view, and effectively and entertainingly so.
  4. Van Helsing really bogs down the book. His dialogue is virtually endless and pretty much pointless. I’m not sure what Stoker was thinking here, unless he just wanted to make the Dutch seem like windbags. Certainly his writing shows none of the delight in previous parts of the book. Also, I think Stoker may have let Lucy’s death subdue his writing at that point; it seems to lack heart.
  5. Mina’s personality and diction begin to return some life to the tale. Even Van Helsing seems more direct around her (and not simply because it’s time to move the plot forward).

Summation: Sometimes even the best of writers need a good editor—or at least a workshop of other writers—to point out weak spots. I think Stoker could have benefited from a hefty editing of Van Helsing’s dialogue from the time of his introduction up to the point of Lucy’s death.

We’ll see what the next few chapters bring.

—Les

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  4. I understand your point, Matt. However, as you know, I read quite a bit of 19th-century literature, and while it all demonstrates a more relaxed pace, there’s an uneveness to Stoker’s work that I think shows a lack of final polish. Where Dracula is good, it’s really good; but that isn’t the case throughout.

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