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Ch. 1 - 5: Dracula - by Bram Stoker

#174: April - June 2021 (Fiction)
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Harry Marks
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Re: Ch. 1 - 5: Dracula - by Bram Stoker

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I'm a little mystified as to the reason the Count is so insistent on keeping up the pretense of politeness with Harker. It may be nothing more than a plot device, spun from the way the nobility would follow the forms of good manners and gentlefolk no matter what their true practices and personal rot.

The scene in which Harker proposes to leave early and Dracula, intent on his own plans, assures him he need not stay longer than he wishes, is a marvelous piece of stage business - the wolves come and Harker changes his mind in pre-destined desperation. It establishes the Count's command of the wolves, if that were not already expressed, but in terms of the interaction between predator and prey it just reiterates Dracula's willfulness and resort to uncanny powers, and Harker's helpless situation.
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Re: Ch. 1 - 5: Dracula - by Bram Stoker

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Bram Stoker Chapter Three wrote:As I leaned from the window my eye was caught by something moving a storey below me, and somewhat to my left, where I imagined, from the order of the rooms, that the windows of the Count’s own room would look out. The window at which I stood was tall and deep, stone-mullioned, and though weatherworn, was still complete; but it was evidently many a day since the case had been there. I drew back behind the stonework, and looked carefully out.

What I saw was the Count’s head coming out from the window. I did not see the face, but I knew the man by the neck and the movement of his back and arms. In any case I could not mistake the hands which I had had so many opportunities of studying. I was at first interested and somewhat amused, for it is wonderful how small a matter will interest and amuse a man when he is a prisoner. But my very feelings changed to repulsion and terror when I saw the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over that dreadful abyss, face down with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings. At first I could not believe my eyes. I thought it was some trick of the moonlight, some weird effect of shadow; but I kept looking, and it could be no delusion. I saw the fingers and toes grasp the corners of the stones, worn clear of the mortar by the stress of years, and by thus using every projection and inequality move downwards with considerable speed, just as a lizard moves along a wall.

What manner of man is this, or what manner of creature is it in the semblance of man? I feel the dread of this horrible place overpowering me; I am in fear—in awful fear—and there is no escape for me; I am encompassed about with terrors that I dare not think of....
This episode of Count Dracula crawling down a high vertical stone wall outside his castle window is an image of terrifying vertigo that somehow stayed vividly with me since reading the book fifty years ago. The face-down technique is another of Bram Stoker’s remarkably powerful narrative images. This dreadful abyss puts free solo rock climbing into a new light, or maybe darkness. Perhaps all those crazies who climb el capitan without rope could learn something from the undead methods, including the spooky cloak, like bat wings. This relatively unknown ability of vampires to creep along walls like lizards creates quite a disturbing and chilling sense of vulnerability.
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Re: Ch. 1 - 5: Dracula - by Bram Stoker

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Robert Tulip wrote:This episode of Count Dracula crawling down a high vertical stone wall outside his castle window is an image of terrifying vertigo that somehow stayed vividly with me since reading the book fifty years ago.
Oh yes. This brought some rumblings in my belly and weakness in my knees. I am deathly afraid of heights. Paralysis afraid.
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Re: Ch. 1 - 5: Dracula - by Bram Stoker

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A principle of story telling that Bram Stoker achieves with masterful ability is known as Continuous Tension Escalation. After Dracula has left his castle, we will discover his evil mission was to prey on a local village by capturing a child to provide blood for his fiendish vampire witches. No wonder the locals had tried to warn Harker not to go to the dark haunt.

The escalation of tension continues with Harker foolishly disobeying Dracula's instruction not to leave his safe rooms. The reader understands this will not end well, after Harker manages to find an old door that he can open. Here is the result, an intensely erotic horror encounter related with the most fearfully blood-curdling, spine-tingling, hair-raising, knee-knocking, bone-trembling, eye-popping writing skill you could ever imagine.
I was not alone. The room was the same, unchanged in any way since I came into it; I could see along the floor, in the brilliant moonlight, my own footsteps marked where I had disturbed the long accumulation of dust. In the moonlight opposite me were three young women, ladies by their dress and manner. I thought at the time that I must be dreaming when I saw them, for, though the moonlight was behind them, they threw no shadow on the floor. They came close to me, and looked at me for some time, and then whispered together. Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great dark, piercing eyes that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was fair, as fair as can be, with great wavy masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina’s eyes and cause her pain; but it is the truth. They whispered together, and then they all three laughed—such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water-glasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on. One said:—
“Go on! You are first, and we shall follow; yours is the right to begin.” The other added:—
“He is young and strong; there are kisses for us all.” I lay quiet, looking out under my eyelashes in an agony of delightful anticipation. The fair girl advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath upon me. Sweet it was in one sense, honey-sweet, and sent the same tingling through the nerves as her voice, but with a bitter underlying the sweet, a bitter offensiveness, as one smells in blood.
I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed about to fasten on my throat. Then she paused, and I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and could feel the hot breath on my neck. Then the skin of my throat began to tingle as one’s flesh does when the hand that is to tickle it approaches nearer—nearer. I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super-sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited—waited with beating heart.
But at that instant, another sensation swept through me as quick as lightning. I was conscious of the presence of the Count, and of his being as if lapped in a storm of fury. As my eyes opened involuntarily I saw his strong hand grasp the slender neck of the fair woman and with giant’s power draw it back, the blue eyes transformed with fury, the white teeth champing with rage, and the fair cheeks blazing red with passion. But the Count! Never did I imagine such wrath and fury, even to the demons of the pit. His eyes were positively blazing. The red light in them was lurid, as if the flames of hell-fire blazed behind them. His face was deathly pale, and the lines of it were hard like drawn wires; the thick eyebrows that met over the nose now seemed like a heaving bar of white-hot metal. With a fierce sweep of his arm, he hurled the woman from him, and then motioned to the others, as though he were beating them back; it was the same imperious gesture that I had seen used to the wolves. In a voice which, though low and almost in a whisper seemed to cut through the air and then ring round the room he said:—
“How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs to me! Beware how you meddle with him, or you’ll have to deal with me.” The fair girl, with a laugh of ribald coquetry, turned to answer him:—
“You yourself never loved; you never love!” On this the other women joined, and such a mirthless, hard, soulless laughter rang through the room that it almost made me faint to hear; it seemed like the pleasure of fiends. Then the Count turned, after looking at my face attentively, and said in a soft whisper:—
“Yes, I too can love; you yourselves can tell it from the past. Is it not so? Well, now I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him at your will. Now go! go! I must awaken him, for there is work to be done.”
“Are we to have nothing to-night?” said one of them, with a low laugh, as she pointed to the bag which he had thrown upon the floor, and which moved as though there were some living thing within it. For answer he nodded his head. One of the women jumped forward and opened it. If my ears did not deceive me there was a gasp and a low wail, as of a half-smothered child. The women closed round, whilst I was aghast with horror; but as I looked they disappeared, and with them the dreadful bag. There was no door near them, and they could not have passed me without my noticing. They simply seemed to fade into the rays of the moonlight and pass out through the window, for I could see outside the dim, shadowy forms for a moment before they entirely faded away.
Then the horror overcame me, and I sank down unconscious.
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Re: Ch. 1 - 5: Dracula - by Bram Stoker

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Perhaps I am jaded, too realistic, not very prone to supernatural tensions...Perhaps this was more impactful at that time? I wish I could find the awe... But to me he is just a mediocre writer. But that's just my opinion.
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