Dracula, the bloodthirsty character who continues to inspire creators from all latitudes

Like James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, and Samuel Beckett, the author of dracula he was also irish. bram stoker He was born in November 1847 in Clontarf, north of Dublin, and died in London on April 20, 1912, at the age of 64. In his childhood, his mother told him folkloric fables populated by fantastic characters who, together with the teachings received in a Protestant school (in a predominantly Catholic country), will have left their mark on the author of the most famous vampire novel in history. . Yes ok dracula was published in 1897, it only gained international fame ten years after Stoker’s death, when the German film director FW Murnau premiered the silent film masterpiece in 1922 Nosferatu. Later, the Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi popularized the Count of Transylvania in various films. This is how, thanks to the seventh art, the character created by Stoker became a myth of Western culture that gave way to new books (I’m legendby Richard Matheson, to name one among hundreds) and films such as the romantic version by American director Francis Ford Coppola, comics, essays, television series, plays (in Argentina, director Sergio Renán played the bloodthirsty count ) and also musicals, among which the successful Dracula the musicalcreated by Pepe Cibrián and Ángel Mahler.

Image from “Nosferatu” by FW Murnau, based on the novel “Dracula” by Bram StokerHulton Archive – Hulton Archive

The Italian writer and semiotician Umberto Eco believed that dracula it is one of the ten best novels of universal literature. “It is exceptional,” declared the author of The name of the rose-. With dracula It happens a bit the same as with the QuixoteWhat are they novels written in a state of grace. Cervantes would have been a wonderful writer, but without the Quixote It would never have been the giant it is today. And the same thing happens to Stoker: the rest of his work does not even reach the heel of dracula. It is a portentous novel, something that is fully accepted in British and American universities”. The British Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, considered the novel a legitimate representative of Victorian society (which should be interpreted as criticism).

Dracula competes with other gothic horror characters that emerged in the “Victorian era” in the United Kingdom, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the double doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, devised by Robert Louis Stevenson. Stoker had published horror stories in newspapers and magazines, including the Dublin Evening Mailowned by Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu, author of Carmillaprecursor novel of Dracula.

Another Irishman, Oscar Wilde, argued that dracula it was best written horror play of all time; Despite the praise, Stoker (who had married Florence Balcombe, ex-girlfriend of the author of The portrait of Dorian Gray) did not repay his colleague and friend with the same coin, by encouraging a homophobic campaign in Great Britain, which demanded jail for homosexual authors. But in a biography written by Daniel Farson, the author’s great-nephew, it is stated that Stoker had been homosexual and that he had maintained a epistolary idyll none other than the American poet Walt Whitman. “I found in him everything I ever dreamed or wanted: great-minded and wide-sighted, tolerant to the last degree; embodied sympathy; understanding with an intuition that seemed more than human”, Stoker recorded after a meeting with the author of Leaves of Grass. And to Whitman himself, by letter, he declared: “What a sweet thing it is for a strong healthy man with the eyes of a woman and the desires of a child to feel that he can talk to a man he can be if he wants a father, brother and wife for his son. soul; I do not think you will laugh at me, Walt Whitman, or despise me, but in any case I thank you for all the love and sympathy you have given me in common with my kind.” A second biography of Stoker, by Barbara Belford, ruled out the homoerotic hypothesis and returned the author to the closet.

Ángel Faretta, Claudia Cortalezzi and Pablo Martínez Burkett, in the footsteps of Count Dracula
Ángel Faretta, Claudia Cortalezzi and Pablo Martínez Burkett, in the footsteps of Count DraculaFile, Archive

“Who created the most fascinating mythical variant on the theme of the double was someone double in various senses -observes the writer and film critic Ángel Faretta-. An Irishman who spent almost his entire life in England, the double character of his life was due above all to his homosexuality, and it was also as a contemporary of the martyrdom of his countryman Oscar Wilde ” . Faretta adds that Stoker was humiliated and subdued by his mistress and “master,” then-theater star Henry Irving, of whom he was personal secretary for years. “Hence, he gave his Dracula many of the physical characteristics of Irving himself,” says the author of The concept of cinema-. In particular, she gave him that aura of ambiguity, that oscillation between fascination and revulsion, mixture of charm and horror that gave his character, someone who seduces and possesses and from whom it is difficult to escape. Until one day, in one of his rare outbursts of rebellion, Stoker shouted what would also be a prediction: ‘I am going to write a work that will be remembered the day no one remembers you’ ”. Thanks to his experience as a theater critic, he was able to endow his novel with a sinister and transcendent atmosphere that motivated sexual, mystical, political, esoteric and aesthetic readings of dracula.

Irish writer Bram Stoker "dad" of count dracula
Irish writer Bram Stoker, “father” of Count Draculahttps://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/13/travel/bram-stoker-dracula-yorkshire.html

The vampire travels from Romania to Argentina

The Romanian vampire left traces in Argentine literature, and still does. One of the latest avatars is the first work to win the Sara Gallardo National Novel Award, the story of vampires Thirst, by Marina Yuszczuk. In 2011, Juan Terranova had published The Argentine Vampire, an uchrony in which Buenos Aires is one of the capitals of the Nazi empire and where mysterious and aberrant crimes take place. And in 2016, Gonzalo Demaría presented The Vampire Club: Gothic-Argentine serial from the times of terror and the Mazorcaset in the time of Juan Manuel de Rosas.

Wynona Ryder as Mina Harker in the film version of "dracula" by Francis Ford Coppola
Wynona Ryder as Mina Harker in the film version of “Dracula” by Francis Ford CoppolaFile, Archive

“If health had not forced Bram Stoker to stay at home during his first seven years, if during that period his mother had not told him legends, tales of Irish folklore and events such as the cholera epidemic of which she was a witness and that decimated the population of the west of Ireland, perhaps we would not be talking about him today -says the Trenquelauco writer Claudia Cortalezzi to LA NACION-. I don’t think there is a writer, whether he focuses on horror or not, who hasn’t been influenced by Stoker.; its dracula, their stories. I now remember my first reading of the story ‘The iron virgin’, published in Before and after Dracula by Rodolfo Alonso Editor, and it gives me a chill. I evoke with a smile Woody Allen’s Count Dracula, from Tales without feathers”.

Cortalezzi is the author of the book of short stories Break through. “So many current Argentine writers who are dedicated to terror have something of Stoker in their veins,” he adds. The ones in the anthologies creeps, the Dead collection from the Muerde Muertos publishing house, the circle of writers La Abadía de Carfax and so many more, such as Agustina Bazterrica, Luciano Lamberti, Mariana Enriquez”. Founded by Cortalezzi, Marcelo Di Marco and other writers, Carfax Abbey is an obvious homage to Stoker’s most famous novel.

“Classic is the good that endures -says the writer Pablo Martínez Burkett, author of the new volume of horror stories Tantalus Banquet-. And there is no way to allude to classic horror without dracula by Bram Stoker, that Irishman who knew how to portray the fight between good and evil like no other. Evil without a causal link or any justification, perversity as a vital imperative. A mischievous vocation that objects of piety can barely keep at bay. In our country, vampire iconography has a well-rooted tradition. Just to mention a few, from Eduardo Holmberg, through a sublime Horacio Quiroga or a Víctor Juan Guillot, to continue with the disguise of Julio Denis or a delirious Alberto Laiseca. Precisely Laiseca wondered why we keep reading horror stories. Because it amuses us, yes, but the Old Man knew the real answer: ‘There is an even deeper reason: monsters really exist and we all know it.’ Therein lies the validity of this classic among the classics: the legend of the Transylvanian count continues to question us, not only because it shows us the fear that the other produces in us, the different, the one who comes from beyond and messes with what he shouldn’t mess with, but rather because he questions us about everything we are capable of doing out of fear. Or for love, that other primary emotion with which we try to avoid the fear of loneliness.

Stoker’s last novel was The lair of the white wormfrom 1911, and which was made into a film by Ken Russell in 1988. In it he repeats the formula of dracula but, instead of a vampire, it presents a gigantic serpent-like entity that lives in a deep pit at the threshold of a ruined temple. Patiently, the creature waits to carry out its destructive mission, and to do so, it takes the form of a beautiful woman, Lady Arabella March, capable of devouring men and fortunes with equal relish. Stoker died on April 20, 1912, after contracting syphilis, a plague that travels in the blood. As his death occurred days before the sinking of the Titanic, he hardly deserved brief reminders in the newspapers of the time.

Dracula, the bloodthirsty character who continues to inspire creators from all latitudes