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The New Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker
Edited by Leslie S. Klinger
Review by Don Smith
W.W. Norton & Co. Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780393064506
Date: 17 October 2008 List Price $39.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Editor Leslie Klinger explores the myths, the language, the philosophy and the history of Bram Stoker in this annotated version of "Dracula."

Over four decades before Bob Kane created the DC Comics hero Batman, a figure in the darkness with an affinity for bats, writer Bram Stoker introduced Dracula, a figure in the darkness with an affinity for bats.

And since 1897, Stoker's story has taken on a life of its own. It has been said that nearly 650 films include a reference to Dracula and over 200 films have featured him as a main character. To quote Wikipedia,

"More than 1,000 novels have been written about Dracula or vampires along with a plethora of cartoons, comics, and television programs."

From the Count on Sesame Street to Buffy, the Vampire Slayer fans still love vampires.

Using Stoker's novel as a backdrop, editor Leslie Klinger explores the history of the vampires in literature, the history of Dracula, the sexual taboos of the Victorian age of England, and the life of Stoker.

According to Stoker (and clearly with Klinger playing along), Jonathan Harker was a solicitor (real estate agent/lawyer) who traveled to Transylvania to help a Romanian count, named Dracula, buy a home and move to London. In the process, Stoker is held a prisoner in Dracula's castle at the mercy of three vampire brides hoping to feed on him.

Back in London, Harker's fiancé, Mina watches as her friend Lucy is courted by three bachelors - Arthur Godalming, the soon to be heir to a lordship; John Seward, a doctor who runs a nearby insane asylum, and Quincy Morris, an adventurer from Texas.

Immediately after accepting Godalming's proposal, Lucy is taken ill by something strange. This forces her former beau, Seward, to call his friend Dr. Abraham Van Helsing to assist curing Lucy.

However, Lucy soon dies and Van Helsing realizes a vampire is responsible. Van Helsing, Arthur, Seward, and Morris join forces with Harker. He has since escaped Dracula's castle, returned to London and married Mina .

The Undead count begins to set his sights on Mina, and the five men hunt down Dracula and destroy him before he can destroy Mina the way he did Lucy.

The story is told through journals, newspaper clippings and notes to each other and, supposedly, all of the information was given to Stoker to put together in a book form to share with the rest of the world, However, he has changed the names and details to excite and bewilder readers.

Klinger explores every issue, plot hole and scholarly question set up by reader's in this version of the book.

Was the Dracula from Stoker's novel the same Dracula, Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, from Romanian and Transylvanian history? Klinger explores it deeply.

Long before Stoker, a manager for the Lyceum Theater in London with his friend actor Henry Irving, wrote his book, the vampire genre had been explored by writers like Dr. John Polidori, an associate of Lord Byron's; Sheridan Le Fanu, author of "Carmilla"; and either Thomas Peckett Prest or J. M. Rymer, depending which scholar one talks to, author of "Varney the Vampire" in penny dreadfuls. Klinger explains their impact Stoker's final book.

While Dracula is Bram Stoker's tale, Leslie Klinger clearly adds his bite - pun intended - to the story. It is worth putting down the Batman comic, going out, buying this edition, read, studied, and explored.

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