Dracula (novel)

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Name: Dracula
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: Bram Stoker
Date(s): 1897
Medium: Novel
Country of Origin: England
External Links:
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Dracula is a horror novel written in 1897 by the Irish author Bram Stoker. The novel has been the inspiration for many dozens of stage, screen, and print adaptations and is generally considered to have either established or popularized a number of the tropes common in vampire literature. Fandoms of various sizes exist for some of the more popular adaptations (particularly Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula), and Stoker's novel itself has a small rarelit fandom.

Since Dracula is out of copyright, a large number of transformative works riffing off various aspects of the story have been published outside of online fandom. Many works, like Fred Saberhagan's The Dracula Tape or Karen Essex's Dracula in Love, retell the story to make Count Dracula, the novel's villain, into a sympathetic character. Bekka Black's iDrakula resets the novel among twenty-first century teenagers. In 2009, Dutton published Dracula the Un-Dead a sequel authorized by the Stoker family and co-written by Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew, Dacre Stoker, and historian Ian Holt. Characters from Dracula also make appearances in the texts of a number of other popular fandoms, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellsing, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Van Helsing. Kim Newman's book series Anno Dracula functions as an extended Alternate Universe crossover fic, exploring a world where Count Dracula marries Queen Victoria and becomes the ruler of England. The series is filled with cameo appearances from both fictional characters and historical figures.

Popular activities in online Dracula fandom include fanfiction, fanart and group readthroughs/liveblogging of the novel. An archive for Dracula fanworks exists on livejournal at Whitby Library. Works of Dracula fanfiction have been popular and widely recced at Yuletide.

Fanworks

Fanfiction for Dracula tends toward darkfic, appropriate enough for a work of horror, though there can also be a focus on angst and backstory. Dracula/Jonathan is a popular slash pairing, with stories often taking place as missing scenes during the period of Jonathan's imprisonment in Dracula's castle. Examples of such stories include Wake to Reason by skazka and Horror of the Mind by Serra-Of-Many-Names. Due to the sexually predatory undertones of Dracula's attacks in the novel, there is a fair amount of noncon centered on the Dracula/Jonathan pairing, as well as on Dracula/Mina (such as No Touch of Pity by Assimbya) and Dracula/Lucy (such as The Dream Journal of Lucy Westenra by RobberBaroness). Stories exploring these relationships often feature dreamlike narratives and symbolism, casting doubts in the characters' minds about what is or is not really happening. Many Renfield-centric works, such as He Forgot by The Smiling Shadow are also dark explorations of his relationship with Dracula. A few of these, including astolat's a mind overbone give this relationship a sexual element, though this is less common.

Prequel works may explore Lucy's three suitors and their adventures, or Mina and Lucy's relationship. Such stories can be fluff about friendship, or romances (especially Mina/Lucy). Much of ladybedivere's work, including Snapshots of Home, develops backstories for the main protagonists and shows them in domestic settings, before Dracula interfered with their lives.

Sequel works, on the other hand, tend to be sadder in tone, as the cast of survivors struggles to deal with their trauma and loss. Stories like ladybedivere's Fine and Mattador's Nom Omnis Moriar depict characters working through the emotional ramifications of the novel's events. Other stories go even further and show one of the survivors (often Mina or her son Quincey) discovering that they are becoming vampires or acquiring magical traits, despite Dracula's destruction- or else that Dracula is still alive after all. Assimbya's To Burn the Castle Down and havocthecat's For the Dead Travel Fast explore such scenarios.

A fair amount of fanart consists of solitary character portraits.

Discussion and Read-throughs

The format of the novel, which consists of dated journal entries, letters, and other documents, has lent itself well to group read-throughs by fans. The Dracula1897 community on livejournal, started by elettaria and eye-of-a-cat, read through the novel together between May and November 2006, following the pace and sequence of the dates given in the text, rather than the order in which Bram Stoker chooses to tell the story. This community attracted many new readers who had never been exposed to the novel before, and gave fans a new experience of the text. Rich and complex discussions of the text were sparked off in comments to the community.

This read-through set off a trend, and a number of sites since have experimented with similar hypertext readings of the novel. In May 2013, tumblr user a-tundra-toadstool began similarly reading the book according to its chronology, and liveblogging a combination of quotes, observations, and background material as they do so.

Meta and discussion of the story and characters is common in the fandom. Fans often discuss the merits or faults of various adaptations of the story, or express their opinions on the analyses of the novel published by literary critics such as Leslie Klinger, Leonard Wolf, and Elizabeth Miller. Questions of sexuality and romance can be contentious issues in the fandom, as some fans champion the characterization of Dracula as a romantic and sexually liberating hero popularized by films such as Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, and others argue that Stoker depicts Dracula as as an abuser and his attacks on the protagonists as coded or metaphorical sexual assaults.[1] Discussions of issues of sexism, racism, and homophobia within the novel and its adaptations are also common.

Tumblr user siderealscion enthused about the positive atmosphere of Dracula fandom:

no but im serious in addition to being unreasonably smart the dracula fandom is chill as hell the only drama i’ve ever seen is that every few months like clockwork somebody makes a nasty comment about lucy in the tags and they get politely and eloquently refuted through a dozen or so reblogs in the span of a few days
if i remember correctly one of them ended with “we should all have tea sometime” like good lord we’re civil as fuck
(and there’s so few of us we agree on almost everything which is nice ngl)[2]

Resources

Whitby Library, a livejournal community for Dracula fanworks started in 2006.

The livejournal community draculasfans, for discussion of the novel and its adaptations.

The Dracula (novel) section on AO3, with 92 stories.

The fanfiction.net fandom pages for the novel, containing 125 stories, and for the movie adaptations, containing 412 stories.

Archived issues of the academic Journal of Dracula Studies, dating back to 1999.

Much discussion and meta also takes place amongst users on tumblr.

Example Fanworks

Fiction

  • Bridge of Dreams/Closer Than Ever/Sword of Time by Mme Bahorel - a series of three prequel stories exploring a Jack/Arthur pairing.
  • Sympathy of Wolves by GreenSpine - a popular and well-recommended character piece about Dracula's wives.
  • Sea of Wonders by sophiahelix - story from Dracula's point of view, showing his feelings towards Jonathan and Mina. Assimbya said: "I love the way Dracula’s thought process is written here, so foreign, so inhuman - the vivid intensity of his feelings is overwhelming."[3]
  • Butterfly Dreams by Rhyte - a sequel which moves between flashbacks of Jonathan's time at Dracula's castle, and his haunted life with Mina years after Dracula's death.
  • Sisters of the Night by seriousfic - a popular Mina/Lucy fic
  • Watered with Blood by RobberBaroness - baroness-sabena on tumblr called it "Dracula retold (gorgeously) as Southern Gothic" [4]
  • Dissonance by Assimbya - a reinterpretation of the blood exchange scene between Mina and Dracula, incorporating suggestions from literary criticism. a-tundra-toadstool said "because writing fic that’s addressing academic criticism that’s addressing the work of fiction you’re writing fic about is pretty much what I want from fandom"[5]

Art

Meta

References

  1. Examples of such discussions include the Love Story or Not? thread which took place on the discussion forums of fanfiction.net in 2009.
  2. Post here
  3. From post Dracula Fan Fiction Recs
  4. From a response to a call for notable fanworks here
  5. From a response to a call for notable fanworks here