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The Origins of Dracula: Background to Bram Stoker's Gothic Masterpiece (Desert Island Dracula Library) [Hardcover]

Clive Leatherdale


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Desert Island Books Limited; New edition edition (Feb 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1874287074
  • ISBN-13: 978-1874287070
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,685,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A profoundly facinating study of Bram Stoker's masterpiece. 10 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I purchased this book at Whitby Abbey, one of Dracula's key settings, 4 years ago. It provides an outstanding companion to the novel as well as documenting the predecessors of the renown Count Dracula. The author presents his findings in a concise manner, never leaving the reader hanging or uninterested. I would recommend this book to any fan of the gothic novel, voracious readers, inquisitive English student/professor, or to those who wish to further their knowledge of the original Dracula and banish Hollywood's pollution from thier minds.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting reading 5 April 2004
By M. Ferrer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am not a fan of Dracula's films, but I like the novel by Bram Stoker. This book makes a great effort to go further than the myth we have in mind. Not only because its historical research, but also for its interesting study of anthropology.
Death, blood, folkore and so. And also a very interesting bibliography. I think that with the Annotated Dracula by Wolf this is a keeper for those who are interested in vampyrs, but also is a very interesting book for those who like anthropology.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Collection of Sources for Scholars of Bram Stoker's "Dracula". 19 May 2009
By mirasreviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"The Origins of Dracula" is an anthology of scholarly sources that Bram Stoker consulted while writing his 1897 masterpiece of gothic horror "Dracula". These aren't the literary antecedents of the novel, but non-fiction works that relate to the novel's sub-themes. Clive Leatherdale, who has annotated and published Bram Stoker's other works as well as the most scholarly and comprehensive annotated edition of "Dracula", has excerpted the relevant portions of Bram Stoker's sources and compiled them here. According to Stoker's working notes for "Dracula", he consulted 32 sources. Leatherdale includes 16 of them here plus one additional article. Those omitted seemed to have no bearing on "Dracula", are in French, or are "so prolix as to defy editorial surgery", in Leatherdale's words.

The works were published 1750-1895, but most are from the mid- to late-19th century. Common subjects are: Balkan folklore, Eastern European history, natural history, and theories on trances and states of unconsciousness. Leatherdale introduces each work and explains how it may have related to "Dracula". The one essay that was not among Bram Stoker's sources is a piece by Benedictine monk Dom Augustine Calmet from "The Phantom Ward", written in 1750 and translated into English in 1850, in which he tries to make sense of the epidemic of vampirism that purportedly plagued parts of Eastern Europe in the 1720s-1730s. What follows is a list of the other works which are included. These are excerpts of the works, typically 10-20 pages long, not the entire work:

"Curiosities of Olden Times" (1895) and "The Book of Were-Wolves" (1865) by Sabine Baring-Gould, "The Origins of Primitive Superstitions" (1881) by Ruston M. Dorman, "On the Truths Contained in Popular Superstitions" (1851) by Herbert Mayo, "An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia" (1820) by William Wilkinson, "On the Track of the Crescent" (1885) by Major E.C. Johnson, "The Nineteenth Century" (1885) by Emily Gerard, "The Folk-Tales of the Magyars" (1889) translated by Rev. W. Henry Jones and Lewis L. Kropf, "Anecdotes of Habits and Instincts of Animals" (1853) by Sarah Lee, "Credulities Past and Present" (1880) by William Jones, "On Superstitions Connected with the History and Practice of Medicine and Surgery" (1844) by Thomas Pettigrew, "The Natural and the Supernatural" (1861) by John Jones, "The Other World" aka "Glimpses of the Supernatural" (1875) by Frederick Lee, "The Devil: His Origins, Greatness, and Decadence" (1871) by Albert Réville, "Superstitions and Force" (1878) by Henry C. Lea.

The chapter titles refer to the subject of the work, not the titles that I have listed above. There is an appendix with a complete list of Stoker's sources. Some of the works provide insight into folklore and lifestyles of the time, while those on medical theory or history are certainly outdated. More is known about Eastern European history and fact better separated from fiction now than it was then. "The Origins of Dracula" will only interest scholars and serious students of the novel. But this is a very convenient collection of sources for those who wish to dig deep into "Dracula"'s origins. I have read a lot of criticism and scholarship of "Dracula", but I had only encountered two of these sources before, those by Emily Gerard and Dom Augustine Calmet.
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