Dracula: Further Reading (1)

Warning: This post doesn’t spoil anything past Chapter 14, but the links to the articles below do contain spoilers (mostly Craft and Wicke).

I read a few academic articles (some found by @kemendraugh) about Dracula. Two of them have to do with my favorite thing (technology in the novel) and one has to do with my least favorite thing (sex) but I’ve got brief summaries/thoughts below for those interested in some further reading.

Phonograph, Shorthand, Typewriter: High Performance Technologies in Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Leanne Page

This article contains vague spoilers.

The main point of this article wasn’t so much to provide a deeper reading to Dracula as it was to defend the “high-performance” aspect of the technologies in the novel. For its time, Dracula was a high-tech thriller and should be treated as such. I liked how in-depth Page went describing the different technologies and how they could be used (it also has some fun advertisements for typewriters back in the day). She observes that the  occasional failure of these technologies disrupt the purposes of the characters (just like for real people in real life). I like her assertion that the role of technology in literature can become “a central character” (104) as it does in Dracula, and that she points out that Van Helsing and Dracula are unfamiliar with technology and how it creates problems for them (107). 

“Kiss Me with Those Red Lips”: Gender and Inversion in Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Christopher Craft

This article contains many spoilers.

When I was in college, most of our discussions about Dracula revolved around whether or not something was a metaphor for sex. I still think this is a fairly boring discussion to have, but to be fair this article is probably the best argument for it I have read. There is a lot in this article about Victorian anxiety about gender roles and how they’re being overturned or supported in the novel. There is also a lot of discussion about who is being penetrated by whom, how, and for why.

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Babe, I know.

There’s a lot of good stuff in here, a lot of extreme stuff in here, and a lot of explicit stuff in here. I really liked its criticism of how Van Helsing’s team constantly idealizes women and puts them on a pedestal of purity while also judging and demonizing any woman acting outside of their ideal, eg: “A woman is better still than mobile, better dead than sexual” (122) and points out that “the field of this battle [between Dracula versus Van Helsing], of this equivocal competition for the right to define the possible relations between desire and gender, is the infinitely penetrable body of a somnolent woman” (117) and “both men prefer to immobilize a woman before risking a penetration” (126) whether it is to suck her blood or replace it. So, yeah, enjoy this if you go for it.

giphy-11

Vampiric Typewriting: Dracula and Its Media by Jennifer Wicke

This article contains many spoilers.

If you’re going to pick one of these three to read, I’d recommend this one. It compares vampirism (specifically vampires’ tendency to create more vampires) to mass culture (specifically its tendency to both consume and spread): “Mass culture is protean, with the same horrific propensity to mutate that also defines Dracula’s anarchic power, as he becomes a bat or a white mist at will” (476). It compares Dracula’s ability to copy himself by turning people into vampires to the powers of technology and culture, such as Mina’s typewriting. “Here we step into the age of mechanical reproduction with a vengeance, since the reproductive process that makes vampires so closely allied to the mechanical replication of culture” (476). I really appreciate the sympathetic reading of both Mina and Lucy in this article. I can’t say much more about it without being spoilery, though.

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