bram stoker

Booking Through Thursday : Interview, Part 1

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks:

“If you could sit down and interview anyone, who would it be?
And, what would you ask them?”

I would like to interview one of my favourite authors, of course.

From among those who are not among us anymore I would like to interview Bram Stoker. I would like to get to know the man who wrote Dracula better. What inspired him to create such a frightening monster, a monster which continues to fascinate us more than a hundred years after Dracula was first published?

From authors who are still with us today John le Carré (aka David John Moore Cornwell) would be my pick. His Smiley Versus Karla Trilogy (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and   Smiley’s People) remain my all time favourites. The fact that he actually worked for the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6 before becoming an author makes him really interesting.

Advertisements

Booking Through Thursday : Thankful

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks:

“What book or author are you most thankful to have discovered?
Have you read everything they’ve written? Reread them?
Why do you appreciate them so much?

There are quite a few authors I am thankful to have discovered. This year I discovered Cyril Hare, thanks to fellow mystery reader Bev. My year end discovery of Bill Bryson is turning out to be a good one.

I am thankful for discovering all of my favourite authors. I am thankful for Douglas Adams, Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, John le Carré, Thomas Love Peacock, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Bram Stoker.

But above all I am thankful for discovering Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens was a prolific writer. I haven’t read even a fraction of his works. But I am determined to get there. I have read most of Agatha Christie’s books, all of the Miss Marple mysteries, most of the Poirot books and her plays. Some non-series works and a few Poirot books are left.

A writer becomes my favourite only if I re-read their books. So, of course I have re-read both Dickens and Christie’s works many times.

The reason behind my appreciation for them is that both Dickens and Christie have opened up new worlds for me, they introduced me to genres that I would grow to love. Without Dickens where would my love for the Classics especially Victorian literature be? And without Christie, I wouldn’t know what a vast world of Cosy Mysteries exists out there.

Looking at my answer, I realize I have plenty to be thankful for. Life’s not too bad when you’ve got books to keep you company.

R. I. P. VI Challenge – Completion

Ever since I was a child I have been reading books from the supernatural, crime and mystery genres. TV shows featuring similar themes have also been a favourite of mine. So, when I found out that Carl V is hosting the R. I. P. (R. eaders I. mbibing P. eril VI) Challenge at Stainless Steel Droppings, I just had to participate.

The R.I.P. Challenge has taken place every year from September 1st through October 31st for the last 5 years.

There are several challenge levels at which participants can join in. I had chosen,

Peril the First:

Read four books, any length, that you feel fit the very broad definitions of R.I.P. literature. It could be Stephen King or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming or Edgar Allan Poe…or anyone in between.

I have taken my time with this challenge, savouring the two mysteries and two horror genre books that I had chosen. Reading (and in the last book’s case, re-reading) for this challenge was a great pleasure.

I have received some very nice feedbacks from fellow challenge participants for my reviews.  Thank you guys!

Overall, I have enjoyed The R.I.P. Challenge very much. So, thanks to Carl V for the challenge and here’s to hoping that I’ll be seeing you again next year.

Books Completed:

1. By The Pricking of My Thumbs. Agatha Christie.

2. Clouds of Witness. Dorothy L. Sayers.

3. The Shadow of the Wind. Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

4. Dracula. Bram Stoker.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Published in 1897, Dracula by Bram Stoker single-handedly brought the genre of Vampire literature to the forefront. A classic of the Gothic and horror genre, its impact has been enormous to say the least.

Dracula tells the story of Count Dracula, an un-dead being and a master manipulator. The narrative follows the efforts of a group of men and woman as they try to foil the Count’s evil designs. The story of is told through series of diary entries, letters, newspaper clippings; etc.

How can a book that I have read and re-read so many times still fill me with so much fear and dread? I know the book almost by heart now. But Jonathan Harker’s experiences in the Castle Dracula, the count’s arrival in England, his encounter with Lucy and her mother, the Count’s evil presence at the asylum, it all still manages to scare me and I’m not a person who’s easily scared.

Dracula was a part of the trend of  Invasion literature popular during the 1880s and 1890s. Many famous authors of the time including Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H. G. Wells, wrote stories where fantastic creatures threatened England. But Dracula has outlived its contemporaries and has taken on a life of its own.

The way evil is presented in the book is very refreshing. The evil brings darkness with it but there are glimpses of a past, in a past where things may have been different.  Stoker shows that even for someone who is an outright villainous character there still lays the possibility of redemption.

Stoker had a real flair for creating just the right ambiance. I could feel the dust, the hopelessness and the suffocation of the isolated Castle Dracula. The account of the voyage of  The Demeter  is another remarkable example of Stoker’s vivid imagination.

The iconic character of Count Dracula is the life line of this book. He has got to be the singular most evil and creepy villain I’ve ever read about. Apparently the inspiration behind his mannerisms and physical appearance came from actor-manager Henry Irving who was a friend of Bram Stoker’s. The Count’s suave manner, his noble birth and education all mask a sinister personality. His malevolent attitude towards everyone, particularly towards the Harkers, is disturbing to say the least.

The character of Jonathan Harker felt bland. Mina Harker’s character is a bit one dimensional but so are the characters of all the other good people in the book.

The character Dr. Van Helsing is good but his exaggerated foreignness is a bit too much at times. Dr. Seward was an interesting character. His character has a certain depth to it.

Lucy Westenra’s character is not properly fleshed out. I don’t get why everyone is in love with her other than the fact that she is pretty. Arthur Holmwood comes across as kind of dull while Quincey Morris is wooden.

The problem with an epistolary novel is that the point of view keeps constantly changing. As a result the narrative becomes a bit irregular. The climax, for instance, could have been more effective had we been able to view it from the viewpoint of either Harker or Dr. Seward. Instead we view it from Mina’s perspective. Perched at a mountain crevice along with her, the reader feels more like a spectator than an actual participant. After a narrative that is so full of thrills the climax loses its edge a bit.

The narrative of course has traces of Victorian melodrama in it. The good are incredibly good, the women are incredibly sweet and patient, everyone starts weeping at the drop of a hat; etc, etc. But these flaws can be overlooked as the story has so much more to offer.

Dracula. The very name that conjures up countless images in our minds. A pop culture staple for many years, our vision of the blood sucking, eternally damned gentleman has become tainted with its various incarnations. But for me nothing beats the book that started it all. The book certainly lives up to its name and fame and remains one of my all-time favourites. Highly recommended.

© wutheringwillow and A Paperback Life, 2011-2061. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to wutheringwillow and A Paperback Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Teaser Tuesdays (Oct.25)

Teaser Tuesdays asks us to:

Grab our current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like our teaser!

Today’s teaser comes from one of my all time favourite horror stories, Dracula by Bram Stoker. I am reading it for the umpteenth time and yet it’s giving me the chills! These sentences are from one of the parts that scares me the most, Chapter 7, Log of  the “Demeter” . Enjoy!

 My Teaser:

“I dared not go below, I dared not leave the helm, so here all night I stayed, and in the dimness of the night I saw it, Him! God, forgive me, but the mate was right to jump overboard.”

Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.