8. Dracula

by Bram Stoker

A friend of mine is planning to teach Dracula to his 11th grade class of middle class slackers.  (I'm not trying to say that all middle class 11th graders are slackers, but the majority of these folks are). This is a group in which the majority will fake their way through any difficult novel, by which I mean a novel that is long and doesn't have an intensely rewarding... something... every 4-5 pages.  I hadn't read the novel and wondered if Dracula is still a rewarding read.

Dracula is an impressive attack on Victorian era sexuality and gender, fears of illness and death... and all that stuff so many other rebellious Victorian era novels are about.  But who cares about that crap?  It's also a good read by today's standards: sex, intense murder/mystery, "the case," etc.  I really enjoyed the plot as it unfolds through an assemblage of journal entries and letters sent between the characters. And there are some very memorable characters!  Of course, Dracula, the original of the sub-genre, makes all vampires that follow seem like mere fashion.  And Abraham Van Helsing is not at all the character of recent Hollywood movies.  It's worth reading the novel for this character alone.

Dracula is a very good novel, especially if you like the gothic horror genre.  This is one of the grand-daddys of its genre and, like Led Zeppelin, still has something its predecessors don't manage to copy or surpass.

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