Friday, October 30, 2009

Meeting for Dracula

On October 29 2009 we met Bloomington Barnes & Noble to discuss Dracula by Bram Stoker. The book was suggested by Emily (since the meeting was just two days short of Halloween).

Here are the votes (in the order they were given):
Abe 7 (who didn't reread it recently but remembers it pretty vividly)
Raja 9
Chris 8 (though she was 19 pages from the end)
Dru ~9 (though on this re-read she was just up to Lucy's death)
Lisa 9
Emily 10
Jeff 10 (He would have given it 9, but he thought it deserved a 10 "because Stoker made Heinlein-haters like a typist who 'thinks like a man.'")

Many people praised the book for its vivid descriptions.

Lots of people like Mina, though they would have preferred better praise from Stoker's characters than "She thinks like a man." Raja brought up several possible complaints, but considered them nitpicking, given how strong the book is. ("It's been in print continuously for 112 years now.") One plot hole people disliked was Harker's escape from Dracula's castle at the end of Chapter IV. Raja also brought up the strange fact that Lucy got three (!) marriage proposals in one day—Raja was expecting something sinister behind the coincidence—but Dru and Chris didn't find it unreasonable.

Gregory didn't read the book; he expected it to be a standard Gothic, e.g., "a woman is whisked away from her home town by her marriage; her husband sets her up in a dark, gloomy castle, and she becomes convinced that her husband is trying to kill her." It was pointed out that the first four chapters of Dracula actually do follow this pattern—but instead of a young bride, the role is taken by naïve young man Jonathan Harker(!)

It was also pointed out that, for the time, the book incorporates cutting-edge hardware (phonographic recorders) and medicine (transfusions). Modern readers wonder how Lucy survived four different blood transfusions from four different men—her blood type must have been AB positive (the "universal recipient")!