I received this book for Christmas, it's an updated version of one of the original books to delve into the life of the 'real' Dracula, Vlad the Impaler/Vlad Dracula, and to investigate the origin of Romanian folk-lore about vampires. Regular readers of my blog will know that Dracula is one of my favourite books and that I'm fascinated with the vampire myth (though not the paranormal romance kind!). As McNally and Florescu are both scholars who have travelled intensively in the Wallachia region and researched all over the world, I was excited to start reading this book. As well as covering the life of Vlad Dracula, it looks at the origins of the myth and how the representation of Dracula on stage and screen has changed over time.
In Search of Dracula was concise, but packed full of interesting facts. Although much of the information was already familiar to me, it was presented in an interesting way and there were some new facts. I had no idea of the connections between Dracula and the Bathory family, and McNally and Florescu do a great job of portraying the context of Vlad Dracula's cruelty, while not excusing it. Vlad Dracula was constantly fighting challengers to his power (sometimes from within his own family), as well as attempting to push back the Ottoman threat. If you've never read anything about the historical Dracula, this book would be completely fascinating.
For me, the most interesting part was when the authors veered away from strict history and considered whether all the myths about Vlad Dracula could be true. Did he really dine among a field of impaled humans, dipping his bread in their blood? Translations of the original German anti-Dracula pamphets are included in the appendix and whilst they are grossly exaggerated, the authors conclude that the historical Dracula did probably commit some of the acts ascribed to him, those that he had the motive for. Again, this part was morbidly fascinating to read.
The only place where the book fell down was in the later stages, where the authors moved on to considering how Bram Stoker's Dracula has been represented in film, and more broadly how books about vampires have changed over the time. Although this had the potential to be interesting, in reality it was mainly a list of books/films with a brief description of each, which I admit to skipping over.
On the whole, this is a short but fascinating book about the life of the historical Dracula and the evolution of the vampire myth. Fans of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian will love it.
Source: Personal copy (Christmas gift)
First Published: 1972
Score: 4 out of 5
1. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - A scholar receives a mysterious book with a dragon inside it and his search for the origins of the book lead him through the history of the historical Dracula. Gothic fiction.
2. From Demons to Dracula by Matthew Beresford - Non-fiction account of the history of vampires.
3. Vlad by C.C. Humphreys - Fictional retelling of the life of Vlad Dracula, as seen by his confessor and friend. No vampires here.
Great review! Thanks to it, this book was instantly added to my TBR list. I, too, am fascinated by the myth of vampires, its origins and how it evolved (and I don't hold much affection for the romantic retellings of it, either). I have not yet read Dracula, but I definitely look forward to getting to it sometime this year.ReplyDelete
You are in for a treat when you read Dracula, you should read it for Halloween :)Delete
And all the paranormal romance with vampires annoys me, because if you say you like vampire stories, people assume you mean Twilight! Hope you enjoy this one if you do get a chance to read it.
Sounds interesting, I too really like the Dracula. I haven't read a book about Vlad but did watch a fascinating documentary about him, it was all pretty horrific especially if it all happened!ReplyDelete
I think some of it was exaggerated but no doubt horrors actually took place.Delete
Ok, I wasn't really a fan of the book Dracula, but since reading it I will admit that I'm fascinated with the historical implications of his existence and so forth. I think this would definitely be up my alley. I like that you've mentioned it really emphasizes the history and extensive research and not what the vampire is today. I'll let you if I'm able to get a copy. Sounds like a great Christmas present!ReplyDelete
I watched a documentary (I think on The History Channel) about Vlad the Impaler that I found intriguing -- this does sound interesting. Who ever gifted you with that was really in tune with what you like, weren't they? :)ReplyDelete
I have a weakness for the History Channel! And it was a friend who bought me the book, but I think my husband might have had a sneaky peek at my wishlist first :PDelete
I read and loved Stoker's Dracula so much that this title is intriguing me as well. Enjoyed reading your review - I will have to check this book!ReplyDelete
Hope you do get a chance to read it, it's a good companion to Stoker's Dracula.Delete
This sounds really interesting, Sam! I love historical tidbits like this. I don't know too much about Vlad Dracula, I'm afraid, although I wouldn't mind studying up on him more. I did read Stoker's Dracula a few years ago and loved it.ReplyDelete
I love historical tidbits too. If you liked Stoker's Dracula and you like history, I think you're pretty much guaranteed to like this book :)Delete
Either way it sounds like Vlad was a pretty messed up guy. I'm not really into Dracula, but the historical background sounds interesting.ReplyDelete
Definitely messed up, although it was certainly a 'tougher' time than it is now.Delete
I must have this book. Dracula is one of my favorite novels and I have a morbid fascination with medieval history (especially of the obscure variety). I'll be picking this up. Thanks!ReplyDelete
This sounds fascinating, and since the historical parts of The Historian were my favorite this is going on the TBR list right away!ReplyDelete
This was a textbook for one of my college courses. I still have it :DReplyDelete