“Welcome to my house! Please enter! Between …, enter without fear. ” Worth the deceitfully kind words of Count Dracula to his candid guest Jonathan Harker at the gate of his castle in the Carpathians to enter, between a squeak of chains and bolts and a sudden stream of icy and putrid air, in the dark myth of the vampire and In the universe of his undisputed monarch, the old Transylvanian aristocrat. After 123 years (Dracula, from Bram Stoker, was published in May 1897), the king of the bloodsuckers enjoys excellent health, as is enjoyed by all the universal myth in which it is overlapped, a myth that goes back to the dawn of civilization and has revealed itself so immortal Like the creatures that make it up. Wrapped in layers of paper and celluloid or in digital shrouds, vampires return and return from their immemorial graves to continue to amaze, terrorize and occasionally having fun, while raising a mirror in which they do not reflect themselves, of course, but ourselves .
The power of the vampire remains untouched in this dawn of the third decade of the 21st century as evidenced by its continuous metamorphosis and a torrent – impossible to describe it as blood – of new creations and studies around the myth. When 40 years ago! of the novel Interview with the vampire, from Anne Rice (Grijalbo, 1977), which brought so many changes (there is talk of a television series about the 15 books of his The Vampire Diaries whole, with herself as a producer), 28 of Dracula from Coppolasix of Twilight and five of True blood, it seems that we are in another big vampire renaissance. This same saturday BBC miniseries premieres on Netflix Dracula, seemingly rigorous adaptation of the classic, including Sr. Agata (the nun who takes care of Harker in Budapest), by the creators of the series Sherlock Holmes and with the Danish Claes Bang in the teether rôle titre; a new Buffy vampire slayer is also underway, this time with an African-American actress, and also a film with Jared Leto that will bring Marvel Comics superhero vampire Morbius to the big screen.
We’ve had myth reviews as stimulating as Let me in —The novel, in Espasa, by John Ajvide Lindqvist and the moving film by Tomas Alfredson, with his remake American—, the Byzantium, by Neil Jordan, the story of the Iranian vampire pospunk of A girl returns home alone at night or the vampire noir, from Daybreak, with Ethan Hawke and Williem Dafoe. Although probably the most remarkable recent is the hilarious and hooligan What we do in the shadows, the film in the form of reality about three decadent 18th-century vampires who share a flat in a New Zealand town and who are followed in their day-to-day (well, night by night) a supposed television documentary team — unforgettable the scene in which vampires cannot access a disco because the doorman does not invite them to pass. The film, with a lot of canonical burden despite its iconoclasty, has had last year remake in a ten-episode television series format and set in New York, with the inclusion of a vampire for the sake of parrimony.
The current vampirological phenomenon includes in our country the publication in three volumes of a monumental edition of Dracula accompanied by five other classic novels and 32 stories to contextualize it (Vampires, Dracula and other bloody tales, editorial Del Nuevo Extremo, 2019) and the very successful reissue with significant changes of the famous anthology Vampires, edited by Jacobo Siruela, now in Atalanta, including stories by August Derleth and Richard Matheson, nothing less, and a new prologue of the count (!) in which he reviews the vampire’s genealogy, stresses that the creature is the modern myth par excellence and ensures that your success will not be extinguished. Your Transylvania colleague would be glad to know. He, Dracula and his creator Stoker are devoted some of the most suggestive books of this vampire revival.
Certainly, licking, incubus and succubus, revenants, nachzehrers, vrykolakas, nosferatu and other relatives apart, our vampire configuration has as a great reference Dracula, the Big Daddy of the undead. Probably no one has written as much as Dracula, except for Jesus Christ and General Custer, and it seemed – unequivocally – that everything was said about the character and his creation. The very same H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King have written about the count. The first did not hold the novel or Stoker in too much esteem (he saw the original manuscript and thought it was “bungling”), possibly because no pulpy and unnameable deity came out. The second, however, is a fan of both and, apart from performing the best modern rewriting of Dracula (Salem’s Lot, 1975, who signs has a dedicated edition), has consecrated enlightening pages in Macabre dance (Valdemar, 2006). There, King underlines how Dracula overflows sexual energy and points out, without ambiguities or false modesty, well he is, things like that the episode of wet dream in which Harker meets the three voluptuous vampires (Dracula’s wife and daughters?) includes a very clear description of fellatio and that Lucy Westenra for his part in the tête à tête with the earl himself “he is running with pleasure”. More biasedly, and not so graphically, Lacan has referred to the vampire’s aura of anguish in regard to oral drive, which would lead to exhaustion of the mother’s breast …
But, we said, it’s not all said. And there are many new developments and clarifications that provide stimulating new trials, starting with Dracula’s Story (Harp, 2019), by the British Clive Leatherdale, a world-renowned specialist in the subject that laughs at Van Helsing. Leatherdale claims the novel, which dissects thoroughly, in front of the films, most of which, he denounces, have misrepresented the original work. One of the claims made by the author, and that will surprise many, is that, despite what Coppola has in his Dracula and a whole bibliographic current, the contribution of the historical figure of Vlad Tepes the Impaler to the novel was minimal and that Stoker had probably barely heard of him. Vlad’s name does not appear in the novel and the royal voivode was accused of many heinous things, certainly, but not of vampirism.
Leatherdale agrees with Stephen King (and anyone who reads carefully) that Dracula It is loaded with a great sexual imagination: it points out that it is enough to replace intercourse with vampire kisses and semen with blood and you already have almost Gothic porn. In another order of things, it suggests an unexpected connection between the novel and the Alamo! through the reflection of Jim Bowie in the character of Texan Quincey Morris. The scholar goes through the vampire traditions that converge and culminate in the novel offering such interesting facts as Saturday is the best day to hunt vampires (point it out), that the transfixion (vulgarly staked) must be done at the first blow or, apart from the cross and garlic, in Valaquia it was effective against the undead to rub their hands with the fat of a pig slaughtered on the day of St. Ignatius, which is already an apotropaic remedy. Count Dracula, reviews, is the result of the juxtaposition of the vampire of folklore with the literary vampire: that is the result of this curious mixture of the poor smelly and hungry creature (so well synthesized in the scene of Coppola in which Gary Oldman licks the knife with the one that has been cut by shaving Harker) and the gothic cursed and romantic aristocrat from the Byron line, via Polidori.
Dracula, by the way, in the novel is immune to sunlight, although it diminishes its power (for a great canonical summary of the vampire’s powers, limitations and history see Dracula the entry of Mina’s newspaper on September 30 in which he collects Van Helsing’s teachings on the subject). Leatherdale speculates that his death in the end (hopefully no one accuses us of doing spoiler) has no trace of being definitive and perhaps Stoker, ahead of, among others, Hammer and his great-grandson nephew Dacre (Dracula, the undead, Roca Editorial, 2009), I was thinking of a sequel. The Stoker Dubliner (1847-1912) is a guy who the more you know him, the more fascinating he is. Did you know that he spent seven years as a prostrate child without being able to walk suffering from what seems to have been a hysterical paralysis? (It has been suggested that by seeing her mother menstruate: a trauma for a Victorian). Then it’s not uncommon for you to get out Dracula Among his friends were Oscar Wilde, Tennyson, Mark Twain, the explorer Richard Burton (who had the long canines), Winston Churchill – a great admirer of Dracula– and several of the pre-Raphaelites. The fact that Dracula The Victorian era, his, makes us not perceive that the author actually took his vampire from legends to the modern world, and what shocked and astonished his contemporaries. Somehow, Stoker did with the traditional vampiric material what he then did with his Dracula Stephen King when moving it in Salem’s Lot to a current location in the US
Leatherdale points out other influences on Dracula, like Irish legends, The portrait of Dorian Gray, The Lady in White, from which he took the epistolary style, or more vampirically Carmilla, from his contemporary and fellow Dubliner Sheridan Le Fanu. Also, via actor John Irving, who dominated Stoker, somehow vampirized him, Macbeth —A nobleman who abandons himself to the shadows and the blood—, including his three witches, shaken upward in the steamy scene of Harker’s seduction in the Count’s castle, a scene, which, by the way, underlines the scholar, dynamite All Victorian sexual conventions.
Dracula was going to be called “Count Wampyr” and be from Styria (the usual thing for a vampire eat me faut), as we know from the preparatory notes found in 1970, and the novel that the author delivered to his editors, The undead. The final decision of the holder Dracula, that we ignored if it was from Stoker or someone else, it was really inspiring. Although inspiring, notes Leatherdale, the scene in which the group of enthusiastic men vampire hunters of the novel in Manada format impales with the “stake-phallus” to vampire Lucy, an act reminiscent of wild defloration (the good act in the novel very often as bad) in which Stoker, the scholar says, also dared to portray another Victorian taboo: the female orgasm. The truth, when you reread the passage with these keys, the sexual connotations are of aúpa. Another murky and momentous episode in which the author enters is Mina forced to drink the blood of Dracula, which opens a vein in the chest to that effect, and in which Leatherdale believes that Stoker describes a sovereign fellatio.
Gender relations in Dracula give for a treaty. Lucy and Mina (and let’s not say the three vampires of the castle) show a rebellion of varying degrees and strategies against patriarchal domination, manifested by the count and the vampire slayer. Rare things happen in the masculine field: transfusions to Lucy mean that her suitors mix their bloods and that Dracula, king of oral sadism, ultimately drinks everyone’s blood. Was Bram Stoker aware of what he was writing, or was that disturbing material part of the hidden unconscious desires and fears of Victorian society? Dracula? Leatherdale says yes to the latter and believes instead that Stoker was outraged at the suggestion that he wrote lewd prose.
Regarding Stoker’s character, the contributions of his latest biography, the monumental one, are sensational. Something in the blood (It’s Pop Editions, 2017), by David J. Skal, another great specialist. Skal, who also relativizes Dracula’s relationship with Vlad and stresses that there is nothing in the novel of the earl’s search through the centuries of a lost love – so Nanay of falling in love with the Transylvanian – finds in the typical Christmas pantomimes of the Irish tradition and the folk and fairy tales that Stoker knew as a child the essential influence for the novel, although he acknowledges that the author sucked from everywhere (and worth the expression), and again asserts that in his story “everything we it leads to sex ”and that its protagonist is“ the greatest sexual monster of all time ”. As to whether Stoker was gay, a widely discussed issue, Skal, who recognizes him as “sexual ambiguity,” fully reveals the passionate letters he wrote to Walt Whitman, believes that his rapture with Irving is full of homoerotic connotations and could even describe himself, he says, as “coercion,” and points out that his marriage to his wife Florence was “aesthetic” like Oscar Wilde’s. Apparently Dracula’s phrase to vampires “this man is mine!” Came to Stoker from deep inside.
Skal, who endorses the theory that Stoker died of tertiary syphilis, contracted from prostitutes or male brothels, suggests that the main model for Dracula was not Irving but perhaps Sarah Bernhardt’s husband, actor Jacques Damala, conspicuous morphomaniac and that it seemed , according to Stoker himself, a living dead. The iconic black cloak of the earl and the evening dress are not attributes given to him by his creator – who only mentions the passing layer in the scene in which Dracula slides upside down through the walls of his castle – but of actor Hamilton Deane , who starred in an adaptation of the novel to the theater in 1924. Stoker never imagined his vampire as a gala-dressed aristocrat, in the way that Bela Lugosi would memorably embody him (by the way, recover if you can the great booklet about the actor of Edgar Lander who published Anagrama in 1987) or Christopher Lee.
Another interesting recent draculesque material that the Spanish reader has at his disposal is the novel The powers of darkness (Editions B, 2017), which seems to be a first draft or preliminary draft of Dracula which was published in 1900 in Icelandic, translated from the Swedish version by the writer Valdimar Asmundsson, and was rediscovered in 2016. The text includes a deaf’s deaf mute servant and a detective who also appear in Stoker’s notes but which he deleted in the canonical version of Dracula. The gypsies are here Tartars. The part that happens in the castle is much longer and includes a kind of black mass, while the history that takes place in London is considerably reduced.
In another exciting book, Fear and desire, Dracula’s cultural history (21st century, 2017), the historian Alejandro Lillo, who brilliantly crumbles the novel and its ramifications (quantifies that in Lugosi’s performances as the count in a Los Angeles theater in 1928 there were 110 fainting and about 200 dropouts for fear, while the use of the taxi after the functions increased by 500%), notes the disturbing evidence that the story is not at all told in an objective way. Lillo suggests we doubt that what is explained in Dracula –narration based on different materials, ordered, we are told, by Harker – be the truth, and underlines that all the characters are allowed to speak for themselves except the count, who cannot defend himself or justify himself, the poor. He points out worrisome and suspicious exclusions of letters and passages from newspapers, as well as long silences, gaps and contradictions, and concludes that as always, they are the victors, who crush the enemy mercilessly, those who write history and silence the dissidents. However, he suggests that we read carefully to discover under the novel’s layer of uniformity, “the other voices of Dracula ”, a wonderful invitation to continue searching the mind and soul of Bram Stoker, and to understand the vampire.
Dracula, by Bram Stoker (there are numerous editions, among the best are those of Cátedra, 2006, and Valdemar, 2010). The Vampire Bible, the great reference novel and a book that, as with many classics, people think they know about having read adaptations or having seen movies based on the original. Reading and each reading are a wonderful adventure and a fascinating journey to one of the great literary myths.
The mystery of Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King (Debolsillo, 2013). Probably the best vampire novel ever written after Dracula and that also constitutes a great tribute to the classic. The vampire infestation in the town of Jerusalem’s Lot, which emanates from the evil house Marsten, in which a real vampire has sat, is fought with measures taken from Stoker’s book.
Fevre dream, by George R. R. Martin (Gigamesh, 2009). A touching and terrifying fusion of Dracula and the world of the Mississippi by Mark Twain. A vampire who has renounced human blood and a river steamboat captain team up to fight other murderous vampires. A beautiful story and a beautiful song to friendship by the author of Game of Thrones.
I’m legend, by Richard Matheson (Minotaur, 2014). Exciting and illuminating inversion of myth, with the last undead trying to survive in a world in which vampires have thrived and turned him into the monster. Forget the movies with Charlton Heston and Will Smith.
Miss Cristina, by Mircea Eliade (Lumen, 1994). Beautiful incursion of the historian of the Eliade religions in the vampire novel. Echoes of the classic Carmilla by Le Fanu in a magical and melancholic, almost Chejovian narration about a dead young woman who sucks blood and recites Eminescu.
Vampires, of several authors (Valdemar, 2010). An anthology of vampire stories (King, Derleth, Bloch, Leiber, Matheson, Tanith Lee …) especially focused on those starring women. It includes the seminal Carmilla, of Sheridan Le Fanu, who so influenced Dracula