Read In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires by Raymond T. McNally Free Online
Book Title: In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 18.83 MB
City - Country: No data
The author of the book: Raymond T. McNally
Edition: Mariner Books
Date of issue: October 31st 1994
ISBN 13: 9780395657836
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Reader ratings: 7.4
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In Romania, Dracula seems to be everywhere. By some, he is considered a national hero for defending his homeland against the invading Ottoman forces -- even if, in the process, he impaled an unknown but undeniably substantial number of victims. The bloody-minded and undeniably real Wallachian prince Vlad Ţepeş -- or Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad II Dracula -- shows up at sites throughout Romania: the Borgo Pass that connects the historical regions of Transylvania and Moldavia; the cities of Sibiu and Braşov, where the local German Saxons often experienced Dracula's wrath; atmospheric Bran Castle, a virtual Ground Zero for Dracula tourism; and down through Vlad Dracula's actual Wallachian realm in what is now southern Romania. The modern-day tourist who travels to Romania in search of all things Dracula will not be disappointed.
Interestingly, it is entirely possible that none of that Dracula tourism would be a feature of modern Romania's cultural landscape if not for the book In Search of Dracula. Written collaboratively by Boston College scholars Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu (one American, one Romanian) and originally published in 1972, In Search of Dracula was the first book to draw a direct link between the Prince Dracula of history and the Count Dracula of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897), who has gone on to become a ubiquitous presence in film, television, and popular culture generally. Today, we take the link between the historical and fictive Draculas for granted; in 1972, it was quite a new thing, and anyone with an interest in Dracula and vampires owes a debt of gratitude to McNally and Florescu.
The book's subtitle -- The History of Dracula and Vampires -- provides an accurate sense of its trajectory. The early part of In Search of Dracula relates the fictive Dracula to the real-life Vlad Dracula (McNally and Florescu describe in Chapter 2 an expedition that they undertook to find the real Castle Dracula; Stoker's wonderful novel notwithstanding, it is nowhere near the Borgo Pass of northern Romania). Chapters 3 through 9 chronicle the life, the bloody reign, and the violent death of Vlad Dracula. After a brief look at Old World vampire folklore, the authors then examine the manner in which Bram Stoker conducted thorough research regarding Dracula and vampire stories in preparation for writing Dracula, and then go on to consider Dracula on stage, in fiction, and in film.
When I first read In Search of Dracula, I found the author's invocation of the tangled politics of Vlad Dracula's time somewhat confusing. Now that I have lived in Hungary and traveled in Romania, I found that part of the book, on a second reading, much more understandable. Many readers will already know that Vlad II Dracula's father, Vlad I Dracul, gained the nickname "Dracul" ("the dragon") because of his membership in the Order of the Dragon, a Christian chivalric order organized to resist Ottoman incursions into Europe; the "-a" in Dracula's name is a diminutive, and thus "Dracula" literally means "son of the dragon." Not that there's going to be a major movement to start referring to Vlad Ţepeş as Vlad Dragonson or anything, but it's still interesting to know.
One impression I got from these portions of the book was that, when Vlad Dracula carried out his acts of impalement against his many victims, he no doubt knew that word of his cruelty would spread widely -- a possible deterrent to potential enemies, and a grim convergence of sadism and Realpolitik. In Dracula's own time, the sight of a "forest" of impalement victims was enough to cause Mehmet II, the Ottoman sultan who had taken Constantinople, to end his invasion of Wallachia and return home; and more than 500 years later, those true stories of the horrors inflicted by Dracula still echo down the ages.
From the bloodthirsty voivode of Wallachia to the blood-drinking vampire of Stoker's novel and endless films, McNally and Florescu guide us in a manner that is horrifying and compelling, right down through an account of how the Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu may have identified with the historical Dracula during the long grim years of the Cold War.
The book is well-illustrated with maps, engravings, paintings, photographs, and film stills. Helpful supplements include original German, Russian, and Romanian stories about Dracula; for the Germans, who remembered Vlad Dracula's brutal actions against the Saxons of Sibiu (German name, Hermannstadt) and Braşov (German name, Kronstadt), Dracula is an unreasoning psychopath; for the Russians and Romanians, Dracula is depicted somewhat more sympathetically, as a harsh ruler in a harsh time. There is also a filmography that lets the reader know of Dracula and vampire films that include the good (few), the mediocre (many), and the bad (very many). There is even a travel guide that lets the reader know of opportunities for Dracula tourism in England, Scotland, Ireland, and (of course) Romania.
This updated edition of In Search of Dracula was published in 1994. Another update might be welcome; I would be interested, for example, in hearing the authors' thoughts regarding Shadow of the Vampire, the 2000 film that imagines F.W. Murnau, director of the classic Dracula film Nosferatu (1922), hiring an actual vampire to play the film's Dracula character and suffering the consequences. But the book is great as it is, setting forth as it does the grim saga of a cruel medieval ruler whose life story evolved into the undying legend of an undead monster. For anyone with an interest in Dracula and vampires, In Search of Dracula is essential.
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