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Not as I remembered
on 1 December 2014
I first read 'Dracula' when I was 17 or 18 and I remember really enjoying it. Twenty years' later I thought I'd reread it. Big mistake. Stoker conjures up some terrific individual scenes and the opening few chapters documenting Harker's time at Castle Dracula are superb. For me it starts to fall apart about halfway through when the plot begins to run out of steam. Some of the subsequent events feel like word-spinning but the biggest criticism I would make now is the two-dimensional characterisation. The men are mostly insufferable, stiff-upper-lipped Victorians, trembling with suppressed emotion or weeping with wonderment at the plucky bravery of Mina Harker. Mina herself is almost angelic in her sweet virtue and holy nature. Everyone is utterly wonderful to everyone else, and it sort of starts to grate. I also found the attempt to mimic Van Helsing's Dutch accent really very trying towards the end.
'Dracula', as an idea, is superb and, as I said, some of the scenes are iconic but rereading it with older eyes I can't but realise that the book isn't actually that well written or that well plotted. It's undeniably a cultural classic but more, perhaps, for what it started than as a work of literature in its own right. As a piece of writing, 'Frankenstein' is far superior.