Abraham Stoker was born in Dublin, and, as a child, was often sick. To entertain him, his mother used to tell him ghost stories. In his adolescence Stoker developed himself into an athlete, playing soccer and being named University Athlete at Trinity College, Dublin. He graduated with honours in Mathematics and became president of the Philosophical Society and the Historical Society.
Bram’s father, a civil servant himself, secured a place for his son at Dublin Castle (1870 – 1877)
Bram maintained ties to Trinity College, returning there frequently to speak on a wide range of topics for the Philosophical Society. He was deeply interested in the Romantic poets, and during these years he established a correspondence with Walt Whitman.
Stoker also became an enthusiastic theatergoer and an ardent admirer and friend of the actor Henry Irving, writing remarkable reviews of his works for the local papers. Probably Henry Irving became an important model for the character of Count Dracula.
The writer became a regular guest of the literary and artistic circle of Lady Wilde, Oscar Wilde’s mother and competed with Oscar Wilde for the hand of Florence Balcombe, a beautiful young actress who chose Bram. The two got married in 1878, the same year he left for London with a new job as the business manager of Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre.
Stoker continued to work faithfully and tirelessly for Henry Irving until the actor’s death in 1906.
This loss caused Stoker a stroke, but he continued to write fiction and do newspaper-work until his death in 1912.
Bram Stoker wrote a variety of short stories and essay. Among his most famous novels are:
• The Primrose Path (1875) about a honest Dublin theatrical carpenter, Jerry O’Sullivan, who moves to London, and after several misfortunes is strongly tempted by alcohol.
• The Snake’s Pass (1890) about a troubled romance between an English landlord and an inexpert Celtic peasant. In this book Stoker speaks clearly about the contemporary political climate in Ireland.
• Dracula (1897), his most famous work. Stoker’s interpretation of vampire folklore has powerfully influenced the legendary monsters ever since
• The Jewel of the Seven Stars (1903), a horror novel about an archaeologist’s plot to revive Queen Tera, an ancient Egyptian mummy.
• The Lady of the Shroud (1909), a utopian tale about technological and political progress in Eastern Europe, although Stoker never visited Rumania or Albania himself.
• Lair of the White Worm (also known as The Garden of Evil,1911), a horror novel partly based on the legend of the Lambton Worm. In 1988, it was adapted into a film by Ken Russell.
The Story – Jonathan Harker is a young solicitor travelling to Transylvania to give the mysterious Count Dracula information about his new property in London. Dracula takes the young man prisoner, and Jonathan sees many strange and evil things in the castle before running away into the night.
In England, Jonathan’s fiancée, Mina, is visiting her friend Lucy. Dracula’s ship lands on the part of England where Mina and Lucy are and his first victim is Lucy.
Dr. Seward, the director of an asylum in London, tries to cure Lucy. Together with his friend and teacher Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Van Helsing understands what has happened to Lucy, but cannot save her. He explains to Mina, Jonathan, and Seward the reality of vampires and the danger of this particular one, who was in his human life a great warrior and thinker. All together they decide to destroy Dracula, and, when the Count attacks Mina to make of her a vampire, too, Jonathan succeed in killing him, Mina is safe and the group returns to England.
Dracula is an epistolary novel, written by the different characters and retains a remarkable psychological power. Because of the sexual implications of the blood exchange between the vampire and his victims, Dracula may be viewed as a novel about the struggle between tradition and modernity at the “fin de siècle”, between the world of the past and the emerging modern world of technology, in which women fight for their independence. Van Helsing personifies this struggle because he uses, at the time, extremely modern technologies like blood transfusions and old ones such as garlic.
In this extract Mina Harker is going to be “vampirized” by Count Dracula
In the hands of the Count
The moonlight was so bright that through the thick yellow blind the room was light enough to see. On the bed beside the window lay Jonathan Harker, his face flushed and breathing heavily as though in a stupor. Kneeling on the near edge of the bed facing outwards was the white-clad figure of his wife. By her side stood a tall, thin man, clad in black. His face was turned from us, but the instant we saw we all recognised the Count- in every way, even to the scar on his forehead. With his left hand he held both Mrs. Harker’s hands, keeping them away with her arms at full tension; his right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white night-dress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man’s bare breast which was shown by his torn – open dress. The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten ‘s nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink. As we burst into the room, the Count turned his face, and the hellish look that had heard described seemed to leap into it. His eyes flamed red with devilish passion; the great nostrils of the white aquiline nose opened wide and quivered al the edge; and the white sharp teeth, behind the full lips of the blood-dripping mouth, champed together like those of a wild beast. With a wrench, which threw his victim back upon the bed as though hurled from a height, he turned and sprang at us.
But by this time the Professor had gained his feet, and was holding towards him the envelope which contained the Sacred Wafer.
The Count suddenly stopped, just as poor Lucy had done outside the tomb, and cowered back. Further and further back he cowered, as we, lifting our crucifixes, advanced. The moonlight suddenly failed, as a great black cloud sailed across the sky. And when the gaslight sprang up under Quincey’s match, we saw nothing but a faint vapour. This, as we looked, trailed under the door, which with the recoil from its bursting open, had swung back to its old position. Van Helsing, Art, and I moved forward to Mrs. Harker, who by this time had drawn her breath and with it had given a scream so wild, so ear-piercing, so despairing that it seems to me now that it will ring in my ears till my dying day. For a few seconds she lay in her helpless attitude and disarray. Her face was ghastly, with a pallor which was accentuated by the blood which smeared her lips and cheeks and chin. From her throat trickled a thin stream of blood. Her eyes were mad with terror. Then she put before her face her poor crushed hands, which bore on their whiteness the red mark of the Count’s terrible grip, and from behind them came a low desolate wail which made the terrible
scream seem only the quick expression of an endless grief. Van Helsing stepped forward and drew the coverlet gently over her body, whilst Art, after looking at her face for an instant despairingly, ran out of the room.
Van Helsing whispered to me, “Jonathan is in a stupor such as we know the Vampire can produce. We can do nothing with poor Madam Mina for a few moments till she recovers herself. I must wake him!”
He dipped the end of a towel in cold water and with it began to flick him on the face, his wife all the while holding her face between her hands and sobbing in a way that was heart breaking to hear. I raised the blind, and looked out of the window. There was much moonshine, and as I looked I could see Quincey Morris run across the lawn and hide himself in the shadow of a great yew tree. It puzzled me to think why he was doing this. But at the instant I heard Harker’s quick exclamation as he woke to partial consciousness, and turned to the bed. On his face, as there might well be, was a look of wild amazement. He seemed dazed for a few seconds, and then full consciousness seemed to burst upon him all at once, and he started up.
His wife was aroused by the quick movement, and turned to him with her arms stretched out, as though to embrace him. Instantly, however, she drew them in again, and putting her elbows together, held her hands before her face, and shuddered till the bed beneath her shook.
“In God’s name what does this mean?” Harker cried out. “Dr. Seward, Dr. Van Helsing, what is it? What has happened? What is wrong? Mina, dear what is it? What does that blood mean? My God, my God! Has it come to this!” And, raising himself to his knees, he beat his hands
wildly together. “Good God help us! Help her! Oh, help her!”
flushed: blushed, became red
kneeling: going down on the knees
smeared: stained, dirty
kitten: little cat
leaped: appeared suddenly
champed: closed strictly
sacred wafer: the host which represents christ’s body during the mass.
cowered: walked trembling
sailed: moved, floated
ear-piercing: screaming loud
crushed: closed tightly, compressed
grief: pain, sorrow
dipped: put, immersed
blind: screen, curtain
lawn: meadow, field
yew tree: it. tasso
burst: break open ,appear
elbow: part of the arm.