Dracula at the right time



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Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula happens to be my favorite novel. It's also probably the best novel to talk about on Halloween, but instead of giving you an analysis of the plot, I'm just going to write a bit about the novel's very special place in my life. Dracula was the first serious book that I read from cover to cover--in just a couple of days--under my own will.

At the time I was in high school nursing the idea that I'd go off to college soon and work my way to becoming a psychologist. I had read some good works in class, namely, The Great Gatsby and Othello but neither of them really left me satisfied. This is because during those years I was a humongous fan of the Resident Evil video game series and I wanted to find other things that had that element of horror and suspense. During lunch at school, I'd sneak off to the library and search through the shelves for something scary. I chanced upon a paperback copy of Dracula and was immediately taken by the cover design. I'd never seen an image of the title character that looked so disturbing. I also figured that the novel had to be better than the countless movie and television versions I'd come across over the years.

Right from the beginning, the book drew me in to a world filled with dark forests and mysticism. One of the novel's character's, Jonathan Harker, is on his way from England to the estate of someone named "Dracula" in Transylvania who is interested in buying property back in England. Along the way, local people fear for Harker and offer him trinkets to protect him on his journey. Harker is a man of reason however, and sees all this as somewhat silly. Of course, you already know he has to reconsider later in the novel. The book goes on to become, among other things, a debate between the rational and the irrational. This is probably the best feature of Stoker's book, it can be read on purely "spooky story" level or from any number of more sophisticated perspective (e.g., feminism, Otherness, sexuality, etc.).

All this to say: I found this book at a time when I was most susceptible to its content. I think this is a very important part of reading, finding works that speak to us at the right time. The books in class were important works and held their own value for me, but it was a novel that actually ran parallel to some of my most personal interests that inspired a love for literature in general. To this day, I have read Dracula at least once a year--usually in the winter. It's a great read and it really does surpass anything you've ever seen in the movies. Get your friends together, light some candles, and read it aloud during the next night time storm!