‘Dracula’: a classic of horror literature

This May 27 marks the 125th anniversary of the first edition of dracula (1897), the most famous vampire book ever published and a great reference to horror stories. It is also the best-known work of the Irishman Bram Stoker (1847-1912), who throughout his life wrote dozens of articles, short stories and novels.

The book mixes the life of a real historical figure, the bloodthirsty Romanian prince Vlad Tepes, with the legends of vampires and other mythological beings dating back centuries.

The story begins with British lawyer Jonathan Harker, who embarks on a journey through Eastern Europe to meet Count Dracula of Transylvania, despite warnings along the way. The count kindly receives him in his castle and offers him room and board.

However, the castle soon turns into a nightmare place. The lawyer will discover that the count transforms into a different and fearsome being at night, sleeping in a coffin and drinking blood. Harker, his fiancée Mina Murray and Dr. Van Helsing join forces against Dracula’s dark powers. But where does this story come from?

Mixture of history and legend

Vampires are mythological beings that live at night and rest during the day (the sunlight cannot touch them). They feed on the blood of their victims, who also become vampires if bitten with their sharp fangs. They are beings that oscillate between life and death, associated with the myth of immortality.

Vampires or similar characters appear at different points in the story. In the classical mythology of ancient Greece and Rome, the styrx was a winged being that drank blood to survive. Also the history of Mesopotamia, Jewish folklore or Chinese legends talk about beings that exist between life and death and sow terror among the population.

Archaeologists have found some corpses of suspected vampires, the oldest dating back to the 12th century, with stakes or stones driven over the grave, to prevent them from fleeing on suspicion that they were vampires. The scientists conclude that, in general, some diseases and plagues were associated with this type of mythological beings.

Jure Grando was a peasant who lived in the Istria region of Croatia between the 16th and 17th centuries. He died in 1656, but legend has it that he rose from his grave at night and terrorized the population, until he was decapitated post-mortem in 1672. He is considered the first vampire in Europe.

For his novel, Bram Stoker was inspired by the story of Vlad Tepes, known by the nickname The Impaler because it was one of his favorite forms of torture. This Romanian prince became famous in the 15th century for his cruelty and bloody practices in war, which made him even more feared among the population.

From the gothic novel to the premiere cinema

dracula It is one of the most outstanding works of the Gothic novel: a literary genre that emerged in England at the end of the 18th century and that combined terror with supernatural events and, often, romantic stories.

The Gothic novel rescued the aesthetics of medieval Gothic (15th century) in its narratives and was highly influenced by European romanticism, an intellectual and cultural movement that exalted human emotions and the force of nature, in contrast to rationality and thought. scientific that were imposed during the Renaissance (16th and 17th centuries) and the Enlightenment (18th century).

In England, the Gothic novel had some of the most outstanding authors, such as Ann Radcliffe or Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein (1818). The horror and mystery tales of the American Edgar Allan Poe also stand out.

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Junior Report

Bram Stoker’s novel is the most famous vampire work in literature, but it wasn’t the first. John William Polidori created the romantic vampire genre with The Vampire (1819), while Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood (1845) is considered the first vampire book in history.

However, it was Stoker’s work that went down in history and served as the inspiration for many other titles, both in literature and in the cinema. Nosferatu (1922) was the first film adaptation: a black-and-white silent film that has become a cinematic classic.

American director Francis Ford Coppola directed Dracula by Bram Stoker (1992), a film faithful to the original story that was highly successful at the box office. Later other modern adaptations about vampires appeared as interview with the vampire (1994), Blade (1998) or the saga Twilight (2008), based on the novels of the same name.

The city of Dublin, where the writer was originally from, organizes the Bram Stoker Festival every year to publicize his work and celebrate his literary legacy.

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‘Dracula’: a classic of horror literature