The year 1992 was marked by two important events–I turned five and Francis Ford Coppola’s movie adaptation to Bram Stoker’s Dracula came out. And this is all perfect, and there is indeed a reason why I start this review by stating these facts. After finishing the book, there is this lingering feeling I have that a lot of people skip reading Bram Stoker’s book because they feel competent enough after seeing the movie. Boy, are these people wrong. (In order to not make this introduction completely worthless, I’d say that I really like that movie and it is really good, but…read the book).
Reading Dracula made me think about classics (probably most of them having already been turned into movies) and the tendency people (young people mainly) have to avoid them. I won’t go into plot details, as these are available all over the internet and on the back cover of the book itself, but I would like to talk about why I feel this book is not appreciated enough. In the five days of reading this book, I came to the conclusion that there are two main reasons why people don’t appreciate it as much as they need to.
First, and obvious, is the fact that there is a language barrier. Language evolves constantly depending on how people use it, what words they don’t like to use because they find stupid or because they are so stupid that they cannot be bothered to use complicated and pompous words. The way people structure their speech changes, which ultimately leads to one thing a reader has to face in this book–whether you like it or not, it was written almost 120 years ago and that is some huge time-frame in which a language can be butchered. And having that in mind, yes, it is easier for people to read a simply written book that uses everyday-life language (or simply watch the movie, right?). So, living in a society that is too lazy to walk and chew their food, how do we expect people to bother themselves with reading something that actually makes their neurons come to life from electrical impulses?
Secondly, I find that a lot of the people, who’ve actually read that book, cannot fully appreciate it because it wasn’t scary enough?.. Living in a world that constantly exposes us to fear-triggers, I feel like there are very few things left that can scare the shit out of us. I mean, we have so many books, movies, and hell, we don’t even need them because it’s kind of enough to turn the TV on and watch the news. That exposure, however, makes us numb to what bad and scary is, which eventually leads to books like this one being under-appreciated. I firmly believe that back in the day this book caused a lot of insomnia cases, but unfortunately I don’t think this can actually happen anymore. So my question is, does being numb to scary stuff mean that we cannot appreciate a beautifully written scary story? I don’t think it should, but then again who am I to judge…
Putting the story aside, I’d like to point out that the epistolary novel form was a complete bullseye when it comes to telling a story like that. Seeing the events unfold through the perspectives of so many people and paper clippings was a brilliant way to build the suspense and portray the tension that was building not only in the characters that we are introduced to, but the effect the events had on society altogether. I don’t think any other form of telling this story could’ve worked that well. Simply brilliant!
To sum it up, after having read Carmilla and Dracula I kind of feel sorry for people who only know vampires and vampirism through modern-day romanticized vampire characters that somehow try to make people believe that vampires are the heroes and not the bad guys. So my recommendation to all people who consider themselves captivated by this notion and genre (horror, supernatural paranormal or whatever it is that’s called nowadays) is: read as many of the classics as possible (Carmilla, Dracula, I Am Legend) because at the end of the day this is what inspired the contemporary books that you enjoy so much. Who knows, maybe you will be scared shitless…