The novel is mainly composed of journal entries and letters written by several narrators who also serve as the novel's main protagonists; Stoker supplemented the story with occasional newspaper clippings to relate events not directly witnessed by the story's characters. The tale begins with Jonathan Harker, a newly qualified English solicitor, journeying by train and carriage from England to Count Dracula's crumbling, remote castle (situated in the Carpathian Mountains on the border of Transylvania and Moldavia). The purpose of his mission is to provide legal support to Dracula for a real estate transaction overseen by Harker's employer, Peter Hawkins, of Exeter in England. At first seduced by Dracula's gracious manner, Harker soon discovers that he has become a prisoner in the castle. He also begins to see disquieting facets of Dracula's nocturnal life. One night while searching for a way out of the castle, and against Dracula's strict admonition not to venture outside his room at night, Harker falls under the spell of three wanton female vampires, the Brides of Dracula. He is saved at the last second by the Count, however, who ostensibly wants to keep Harker alive just long enough because his legal advice and teachings about England and London (Dracula's planned travel destination was to be among the "teeming millions") are needed by Dracula. Harker barely escapes from the castle with his life.
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Awareness of Dracula as a masterly gothic thriller has increased ever since its publication in 1897, and the novel is regarded as one of the most seminal horror stories ever written, having inspired countless copycat tales and literary spin-offs. The tale of young Englishman Jonathan Harker's journey to Transylvania, into the very heart of Count Dracula’s evil realm, is compelling, but it is perhaps the journey of the vampire to England—and the dangers he poses to Jonathan’s beloved Mina—that is more horrifying.Review:
Dracula is one of the few horror books to be honored by inclusion in the Norton Critical Edition series. (The others are Frankenstein, The Turn of the Screw, Heart of Darkness, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Metamorphosis.) This 100th-anniversary edition includes not only the complete authoritative text of the novel with illuminating footnotes, but also four contextual essays, five reviews from the time of publication, five articles on dramatic and film variations, and seven selections from literary and academic criticism. Nina Auerbach of the University of Pennsylvania (author of Our Vampires, Ourselves) and horror scholar David J. Skal (author of Hollywood Gothic, The Monster Show, and Screams of Reason) are the editors of the volume. Especially fascinating are excerpts from materials that Bram Stoker consulted in his research for the book, and his working papers over the several years he was composing it. The selection of criticism includes essays on how Dracula deals with female sexuality, gender inversion, homoerotic elements, and Victorian fears of "reverse colonization" by politically turbulent Transylvania.
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