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Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker 
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 Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker


Please use this thread to discuss Chapters 11 - 15 of Dracula by Bram Stoker.



Tue Mar 30, 2021 7:08 am
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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
I mean really... How many times does Van Helsing and Seward need to learn that they CANNOT leave Lucy alone for a second? What a bunch of buffoons.


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Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:16 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
Westernra is the last name of Lucy's family. Are they Western Civ and a symbol for the imagined purity of the west being corrupted by the evil of the foreign, mysterious, modern world?

We have now been introduced to our first 'made' vampire in the Bloofer Lady (Lucy) making Dracula infiltration of the west so very real.


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Fri Apr 09, 2021 8:44 am
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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
Contrast of the descriptions of Dracula's features and Van Helsing's is interesting. Jonathan describes Drac's and Mina VH's.

Quote:
(Harker on Dracula)
His face was a strong—a very strong—aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth; these protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed; the chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor.


(Mina on Van Helsing)
The poise of the head strikes one at once as indicative of thought and power; the head is noble, well-sized, broad, and large behind the ears. The face, clean-shaven, shows a hard, square chin, a large, resolute, mobile mouth, a good-sized nose, rather straight, but with quick, sensitive nostrils, that seem to broaden as the big, bushy brows come down and the mouth tightens. The forehead is broad and fine, rising at first almost straight and then sloping back above two bumps or ridges wide apart; such a forehead that the reddish hair cannot possibly tumble over it, but falls naturally back and to the sides. Big, dark blue eyes are set widely apart, and are quick and tender or stern with the man’s moods.


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Last edited by Mr. P on Sat Apr 10, 2021 7:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
Quote:
The tomb in the day-time, and when wreathed with fresh flowers, had looked grim and gruesome enough; but now, some days afterwards, when the flowers hung lank and dead, their whites turning to rust and their greens to browns; when the spider and the beetle had resumed their accustomed dominance; when time-discoloured stone, and dust-encrusted mortar, and rusty, dank iron, and tarnished brass, and clouded silver-plating gave back the feeble glimmer of a candle, the effect was more miserable and sordid than could have been imagined. It conveyed irresistibly the idea that life—animal life—was not the only thing which could pass away.


Awesome description of total feeling of death and decay... The passing away even of that which we believe to be permanent.


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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
Quote:
“Can you tell me why the tortoise lives more long than generations of men; why the elephant goes on and on till he have seen dynasties; and why the parrot never die only of bite of cat or dog or other complaint? Can you tell me why men believe in all ages and places that there are some few who live on always if they be permit; that there are men and women who cannot die? We all know—because science has vouched for the fact—that there have been toads shut up in rocks for thousands of years, shut in one so small hole that only hold him since the youth of the world. Can you tell me how the Indian fakir can make himself to die and have been buried, and his grave sealed and corn sowed on it, and the corn reaped and be cut and sown and reaped and cut again, and then men come and take away the unbroken seal and that there lie the Indian fakir, not dead, but that rise up and walk amongst them as before?” Here I interrupted him. I was getting bewildered; he so crowded on my mind his list of nature’s eccentricities and possible impossibilities that my imagination was getting fired. I had a dim idea that he was teaching me some lesson, as long ago he used to do in his study at Amsterdam; but he used then to tell me the thing, so that I could have the object of thought in mind all the time. But now I was without this help, yet I wanted to follow him, so I said:—

“Professor, let me be your pet student again. Tell me the thesis, so that I may apply your knowledge as you go on. At present I am going in my mind from point to point as a mad man, and not a sane one, follows an idea. I feel like a novice lumbering through a bog in a mist, jumping from one tussock to another in the mere blind effort to move on without knowing where I am going.”

“That is good image,” he said. “Well, I shall tell you. My thesis is this: I want you to believe.”

“To believe what?”

“To believe in things that you cannot. Let me illustrate. I heard once of an American who so defined faith: ‘that faculty which enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue.’ For one, I follow that man. He meant that we shall have an open mind, and not let a little bit of truth check the rush of a big truth, like a small rock does a railway truck. We get the small truth first. Good! We keep him, and we value him; but all the same we must not let him think himself all the truth in the universe.”

“Then you want me not to let some previous conviction injure the receptivity of my mind with regard to some strange matter. Do I read your lesson aright?”

“Ah, you are my favourite pupil still. It is worth to teach you. Now that you are willing to understand, you have taken the first step to understand. You think then that those so small holes in the children’s throats were made by the same that made the hole in Miss Lucy?”

“I suppose so.” He stood up and said solemnly:—

“Then you are wrong. Oh, would it were so! but alas! no. It is worse, far, far worse.”

“In God’s name, Professor Van Helsing, what do you mean?” I cried.

He threw himself with a despairing gesture into a chair, and placed his elbows on the table, covering his face with his hands as he spoke:—

“They were made by Miss Lucy!”


OK. So here we have a man of science, we'll past the age of Reason, trying to sell the existence of vampires and undead by using extremely questionable examples of 'realties' that should be easily disproved at this time. Elephants? Tortoises? Fakhirs? Oh my.

I see many comment derisively on the ration man overlooking the possibility of the supernatural in these stories and becoming the fool, like Harker refusing to accept what he was seeing in the beginning. In the context of this story, and yes I get the suspension of disbelief and that this is a work of fiction, I guess this might be acceptable but it leaves me very dry. I would love to see the science of the toads encased in rock and then them coming back to life.

I just find it too easy for Stoker to have used these examples. It shows the gullibility and the hold of superstition still had on folks of that time and kinda made the story become less engaging for me at this point. It didn't ruin it, but...

Quote:
American who so defined faith: ‘that faculty which enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue.’


This line I can get on board with.


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Last edited by Mr. P on Sun Apr 11, 2021 8:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
One thing I don't understand... When Van Helsing saws open the lead lining of the coffin and pulls down the metal, I am assuming this means the coffin was sealed with a sheet of lead, encasing the body of Lucy. He had to cut it open to peer into the cavity. Also, the lid is screwed on.

How did Lucy get out if this is the case and then reseal the lead that had to be cut?

Edit... Well it seems she can turn to vapor. I knew this of vampires, but did not know it was an immediate power.


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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
The core theme of the psychological power of denial of the unacceptable continues when Mina gets to read her husband Jonathan’s journal of his time in Castle Dracula. Mina writes
Quote:
that terrible record of Jonathan’s upset me so. Poor dear! How he must have suffered, whether it be true or only imagination. I wonder if there is any truth in it at all. Did he get his brain fever, and then write all those terrible things, or had he some cause for it all? I suppose I shall never know, for I dare not open the subject to him.... And yet that man we saw yesterday! He seemed quite certain of him....
This summary well illustrates the psychological syndrome of blockage. Firstly, Mina points out that the related events are extremely upsetting. Then after speculating on imaginary brain fever as the cause of the vampire observations, she closes the subject by saying she dare not ask Jonathan about it. But then, she explains how she was prompted to read the journal by Jonathan seeing Dracula on the streets of London, young and plumply gorged on the blood of Lucy. Always, always, the preferred solution is the one that fits most easily with our prevailing opinions.

Just before all this, Lucy Westenra turned into a vampire and started attacking children in a London park. But Helsing had seemingly given up on his plan to prevent this – he had intended to remove her heart, but when the crucifix he put on her corpse was stolen he mysteriously decided not to. It seems he knows she is a vampire, but does nothing to alert anyone to the risks. It is like people who recklessly spread a virus.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Wed May 05, 2021 4:54 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
Abraham Van Helsing wrote:
Let me tell you, my friend, that there are things done to-day in electrical science which would have been deemed unholy by the very men who discovered electricity—who would themselves not so long before have been burned as wizards.

This allusion to the burning of wizards prompts the suggestion that the vampire killers are themselves in the lineage of the witch burners. This comparison creates a cognitive dissonance, since the European witch craze of the middle ages is now seen as a period of seriously abusive insanity.

Alleged witches were generally old women of good will who sought to help people using traditional folk remedies, retaining continuity with local cultural heritage. Burning witches and wizards at the stake was essentially a way to enforce rigid social conformity.

The only spiritual outlet allowed was through the highly constrained and controlled channel of the official Christian Church, whose prayers and liturgy were strictly limited to ideas that fully supported state legitimacy.

The idea behind witch burning – which also gave rise to the naming of homosexuals as faggots – was that diversity was intrinsically evil, and total conformity was morally necessary. This narrow puritanical mentality enabled the imperial unity whereby Europe conquered the world.

But with vampires it is somehow different. Vampires, in the imaginarium of Stoker presented in Dracula, are clearly the epitome of moral depravity, representing pure selfish greed and callous indifference to the suffering of others.

The real difference is that witches and wizards represented a natural culture in opposition to the alienated spiritual empire of the European states. Vampires in fact represent the power of the state to suck blood from the peasantry, and so represent the alien empire of kings and bishops that constructs its fantasy religion to exploit and control the population.

This symbolism generates a contradiction within the idea that Christianity can work to confront and defeat vampirism.


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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
The killing of the vampire Lucy Westenra presents a story of high drama, tragedy and symbolism. Lucy’s sweet loving purity before her ‘undeath’ contrasts with the vile voluptuous depravity of her new vampire condition, showing the necessity of driving the stake into her vicious heart, and then sealing the exorcism by chopping off her head and filling her mouth with garlic. Image
Van Helsing prepares for the release of Lucy’s soul from captivity by first making a paste from consecrated Eucharistic wafers, as used to represent the body of Jesus Christ in the communion sacrament. He then applies this paste to prevent the passage of the Un-Dead Lucy into her daytime tomb abode, explained in the quote below.

This whole magical story appals the modern scientific sensibilities of his English and American colleagues, who had each given blood to try to save Lucy from death. With this use of religious imagery, Stoker suggests a critique of how modern science mocked the “Hoc Et Corpus” (Latin for Here is the Body) of the religious ritual. Critics of religion had twisted the well-known Latin phrase Hoc Est Corpus into “Hocus Pocus”, deriding Christian faith as the epitome of magical fantasy.

The power of Christian symbols against the vampire is grounded in the idea that these objects, the crucifix and the communion Host, bring a holy divine presence that the evil vampire cannot abide. This holy presence is entirely about a vision of integral grace, a connection to the whole of reality. The sense of holiness reveals the lie of the cynical effort of the vampire to insist that no such connection to the whole is conceivable or possible.

The symbolism is that the blood sucking vampire represents the exploitative power of evil that controls through division and delusion and corruption, while the Christian totems point to the path out of lost depravity, a journey into a return to wholeness, purity, trust and faith.

The full original Dracula movie can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPDdIpN5HV0

Quote:
As to Van Helsing, he was employed in a definite way. First he took from his bag a mass of what looked like thin, wafer-like biscuit, which was carefully rolled up in a white napkin; next he took out a double-handful of some whitish stuff, like dough or putty. He crumbled the wafer up fine and worked it into the mass between his hands. This he then took, and rolling it into thin strips, began to lay them into the crevices between the door and its setting in the tomb. I was somewhat puzzled at this, and being close, asked him what it was that he was doing. Arthur and Quincey drew near also, as they too were curious. He answered:— “I am closing the tomb, so that the Un-Dead may not enter.” “And is that stuff you have put there going to do it?” asked Quincey. “Great Scott! Is this a game?” “It is.” “What is that which you are using?” This time the question was by Arthur. Van Helsing reverently lifted his hat as he answered:— “The Host. I brought it from Amsterdam. I have an Indulgence.” It was an answer that appalled the most sceptical of us.


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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
Behind on the reading, but eager to jump in if only so I can get the feed from this discussion in my "View your Posts" section.

Mr. P wrote:
Westernra is the last name of Lucy's family. Are they Western Civ and a symbol for the imagined purity of the west being corrupted by the evil of the foreign, mysterious, modern world?
There may be something in the name connection, but I don't think purity is the symbolic state of the West being implied, unless ironically. The West imagines itself pure, by virtue of the fantastic "progress" created by reason and industrialization. But the spirits at work most certainly include the spirit of domination. What could be nobler than enslaving others and harvesting their labor to become rich?

Stoker/Helsing wrote:
“Can you tell me why men believe in all ages and places that there are some few who live on always if they be permit; that there are men and women who cannot die?"
Here I interrupted him. I was getting bewildered; he so crowded on my mind his list of nature’s eccentricities and possible impossibilities that my imagination was getting fired. I had a dim idea that he was teaching me some lesson, as long ago he used to do in his study at Amsterdam;
At present I am going in my mind from point to point as a mad man, and not a sane one, follows an idea. I feel like a novice lumbering through a bog in a mist, jumping from one tussock to another in the mere blind effort to move on without knowing where I am going.”
“That is good image,” he said. “Well, I shall tell you. My thesis is this: I want you to believe.”
“To believe what?”
“To believe in things that you cannot.

Okay, here we are at the heart of the matter. On one level this is just standard horror writing. Believe in things that are impossible but may jump out at you when you least expect it. The opposite of the message of the angels, "Fear not." But strangely cathartic and perhaps more popular in the modern age, precisely because we cannot believe in them and so we can have an uproarious good time pretending to.

But let's be honest. Are there not people out there dreaming of living for thousands of years? What was once science fiction is now entertained as real possibility. After all, if you can make 40 Billion dollars (can you comprehend 40 Billion dollars? I can't except in the most left-brained, blinkered possible way) why would you not be able to extend your life as long as you wish? And so the dark arena of wishful thinking invades the world of the everyday.

The bewildered interruption is an almost precise rendition of the condition of the left hemisphere trying to "comprehend" anything. And the right brain simply takes in what is, in order to orient the self realistically and move toward what realistically could be. Van Helsing wants him to believe. So now we are no longer in the fun house waiting to have someone jump out at us for the thrills, but are rather back in the world where some pretty devilish fantasies find realization. Believe in poison gas. Believe in trench warfare and commanders ordering men to jump out of the safety of the trenches and take 80 percent casualties to wear down the enemy. Believe in politicians selling out democracy for the sake of white supremacy. Believe in a single bomb that can wipe out a million lives in 10 seconds. Believe. None of these things were part of the world of Bram Stoker. But the potentials were becoming evident, and as with today, the plain evidence of what is can easily refute orderly fantasies of reasonableness.

The question is can we maintain the sanity to process reality and resist the downward pull of despair, nihilism, blaming, tribalism, and the ferocious preference for the struggle of the id over the observations of the societal ego?

Stoker/Helsing wrote:
Let me illustrate. I heard once of an American who so defined faith: ‘that faculty which enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue.’ For one, I follow that man. He meant that we shall have an open mind, and not let a little bit of truth check the rush of a big truth, like a small rock does a railway truck. We get the small truth first. Good! We keep him, and we value him; but all the same we must not let him think himself all the truth in the universe.”
Twain's comment is his ironic tip of the iceberg. He suppressed much that he wrote, knowing it would not be received well in nineteenth century America. No better than Liz Cheney's honesty is received in the part of present day America that prefers to believe it is still the 19th century. Bomb the enemy back to the Stone Age, to win their hearts and minds. Put up barriers to trade so we can be more competitive.

Van Helsing is also being ironic. The big truths are where technology and reason and social progress are taking humanity, and the small truths we must believe are the unbelievable things going on in society, representing evil tendencies with deep roots in the psyche. Believe that someone may send 10 million to the gas chambers, and that someone else may accept starving many million of his Ukrainian countrymen to advance industrialization, because those "small" truths will help you get your mind around the big truths.

And yet at the end of the quote he seems to be suggesting that believing in vampires is not the whole truth - that the universe is larger still. I can only read this as an assertion that Christian values, and deep-rooted faith in ritualist, peasant attachment to humility and a call upon the mercy of God, represent some hope against the onslaught of the technology-enabled scramble for domination. This is paradox worthy of Gandhi or St. Francis. Despite everything, fear not.

Mr. P wrote:
I see many comment derisively on the ration man overlooking the possibility of the supernatural in these stories and becoming the fool, like Harker refusing to accept what he was seeing in the beginning. In the context of this story, and yes I get the suspension of disbelief and that this is a work of fiction, I guess this might be acceptable but it leaves me very dry. I would love to see the science of the toads encased in rock and then them coming back to life.
I just find it too easy for Stoker to have used these examples. It shows the gullibility and the hold of superstition still had on folks of that time and kinda made the story become less engaging for me at this point. It didn't ruin it, but...
Point taken. It is extremely difficult for moderns to hear about the supernatural without taking it as denial of reality. The idea that it had come to represent metaphor for deep wellsprings of common value is too hard to process rationally. Yet the habit of modern horror and sci-fi of taking their superpowers literally but not seriously should warn us that there is a different kind of denial at work, or rather a different kind of reality being denied.

And ooops! Suddenly it jumps up and bites us, and a charlatan picked out for Soviet backing 30 years before, whose chief attribute is skill at manipulating the Dark Side, becomes the nemesis of democracy and Candidate Palpatine. A man empowered by his father's vampiric spirit, and trained by the spirit of the witch hunts of the 50s, embodied in the twisted genius of Roy Cohn, descends on America like Lenin sent by the Germans against Russia.

If only it was just Chucky, or Freddy Krueger.



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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
Harry Marks wrote:
Behind on the reading, but eager to jump in if only so I can get the feed from this discussion in my "View your Posts" section.
I mainly use the “View Active Posts” link, which has the advantage of seeing interesting new threads but the disadvantage of being full of single post promotional material. Dracula is a gripping yarn, so you should be able to catch up.
Harry Marks wrote:
Mr. P wrote:
Westernra is the last name of Lucy's family. Are they Western Civ and a symbol for the imagined purity of the west being corrupted by the evil of the foreign, mysterious, modern world?
There may be something in the name connection, but I don't think purity is the symbolic state of the West being implied, unless ironically. The West imagines itself pure, by virtue of the fantastic "progress" created by reason and industrialization. But the spirits at work most certainly include the spirit of domination. What could be nobler than enslaving others and harvesting their labor to become rich?
The name is Westenra, which doesn’t actually include ‘western’. The name that most evoked this agenda in my view is General Westmoreland, whose imperial efforts in Vietnam could plausibly be seen against the objective of obtaining more land for the West.

Dracula actually has quite an ambiguous relation to the West. Recall that he had explained to Harker in Chapter 3 how the Draculas had fought against the Turk. So we have this difficult situation that Dracula claims to be a defender of Western Civilization against the infidel, expressing great pride in his cultural heritage, and yet is the expression of pure evil. As I have noted already, this tension suggests that Stoker is picking up on folk traditions that imagined the vampire as somehow a representative of the power of the nobility to exploit the peasantry.

The English imagination formed the concepts of the Near East (the Balkans), the Middle East (Turkey to Iran) and the Far East (India to China). Dracula, as a representative of the Near East, strongly reminds me of Tolkien’s vision in The Lord of the Rings of Sauron as evil Lord of Mordor. Both represent an appalling evil power emanating from a region within the West a long way to the south east of England/the Shire. The need for Dracula to bring his Transylvanian earth in boxes to England seems to illustrate the centre of gravity of the west gradually moving westward since the Middle Ages.
Harry Marks wrote:
Van Helsing wants him to believe. So now we are no longer in the fun house waiting to have someone jump out at us for the thrills, but are rather back in the world where some pretty devilish fantasies find realization. Believe in poison gas. Believe in trench warfare and commanders ordering men to jump out of the safety of the trenches and take 80 percent casualties to wear down the enemy. Believe in politicians selling out democracy for the sake of white supremacy. Believe in a single bomb that can wipe out a million lives in 10 seconds. Believe. None of these things were part of the world of Bram Stoker. But the potentials were becoming evident, and as with today, the plain evidence of what is can easily refute orderly fantasies of reasonableness.
I think this foreboding of the collapse of Victorian simple certainties was a big factor. The same idea of belief in the impossible is the core theme in The War of The Worlds by HG Wells, published in 1898. Two of the most popular books of that decade therefore prefigure the real horror of the First World War, by suggesting correctly that reality in terms of historical trajectory is actually quite different from popular opinion.
Harry Marks wrote:
Twain's comment is his ironic tip of the iceberg. He suppressed much that he wrote, knowing it would not be received well in nineteenth century America.
Mark Twain’s famous line “Faith is believing what you know aint so” became for Helsing ““To believe in things that you cannot. Let me illustrate. I heard once of an American who so defined faith: ‘that faculty which enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue.’”
The irony here seems to come from Stoker, who must be fully familiar with the atheistic implication of Twain’s mockery of faith, but for Helsing places it instead as a defence of faith. Where Twain was talking about the dubious psychological capacity to assent to the occurrence of miracles that conflict with all experience, Helsing converts it into the opposite:
Quote:
He meant that we shall have an open mind, and not let a little bit of truth check the rush of a big truth, like a small rock does a railway truck. We get the small truth first. Good! We keep him, and we value him; but all the same we must not let him think himself all the truth in the universe.”
Twain did not in the slightest mean we should have an open mind to the likelihood of impossible things occurring. Rather, he meant that faith is an intrinsically incoherent epistemic method. But Van Helsing reverses Twain’s intent to instead mean we should not allow our conventional perceptions to prevent recognition of larger truths that undermine them.
Harry Marks wrote:
Van Helsing is also being ironic. The big truths are where technology and reason and social progress are taking humanity, and the small truths we must believe are the unbelievable things going on in society, representing evil tendencies with deep roots in the psyche. Believe that someone may send 10 million to the gas chambers, and that someone else may accept starving many million of his Ukrainian countrymen to advance industrialization, because those "small" truths will help you get your mind around the big truths.
I read it differently. Van Helsing seems to mean the big truths are the real trajectory of fate, while the small truths are our conventional beliefs. I don’t see the irony.


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Post Re: Ch. 11 - 15: Dracula - by Bram Stoker
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The name is Westenra, which doesn’t actually include ‘western’.


It literally includes every letter of western. And has less inclusivity of the word Westmoreland.

Not defending my observation, but thought it was funny. :D


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