“I vant to drink your blood.” No, that’s not in the famous Bram Stoker book Dracula, nor is it necessarily the subtext of a certain contemporary individual’s political rallies that, nonetheless, do feature the color red. If you haven’t ever read Dracula, you’ve missed out on a great experience. It’s an extremely well done story, and it’s not even very explicit or gory, at least to a modern sensibility. It’s just an engaging suspense story.
I’ve come to think of classic literary monster tales as great metaphors for the most difficult challenges we face. You can find deep insight in Beowulf, in how he pursues and takes on the monsters, and in Mary Shelley’s great novel Frankenstein, in how the title character creates one.
In all these stories, in one way or another, we learn about the power of partnership and collaboration. That would be my main takeaway from the account of Count Dracula, who represents a great evil that can’t be defeated by any one person working alone, but can be confronted most effectively by a team of likeminded people in partnership. for a shared purpose. Interestingly, that was Aristotle’s account of what it takes for the greatest human goods. And the morals of the story for us are simple. Be willing to face any challenge. Don’t go it alone. Gather support from people you trust. Then, no matter how daunting the odds, you stand your best chance of success. I recently reported throughout social media on my reading this week of The Three Musketeers, Alexander Dumas’ wonderful romp amid swordsmen of seventeenth century France. The same lessons came through it as well, loud and clear.
Dracula is cleverly written as entries from various characters’ journals and letters and telegrams. But it’s so well done as to read smoothly and without any confusion. You sample various points of view in a way that enhances the drama and suspense.
My favorite actual quote may be: “As I came along the corridor I saw Mr. Morris looking out of a window.” (248)
Other notable reminders:
“We learn from failure, not success!” (129)
“Oh, friend John, it is a strange world, a sad world, a world full of miseries, and woes, and troubles,; and yet when King Laugh come, he makes them all dance to the tune he play.” (188)
Here was my own pet lunatic—the most pronounced of his type that I had ever met with—talking elemental philosophy, and with the manner of a polished gentleman. (251)
“He is finite, though he is powerful to do much harm and suffers not as we do. But we are strong, each in our purpose; and we are all more strong together.” (337-338)
It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature. (344)
“Friend John, to you with so much of experience already—and you too, dear Madam Mina, that are young—here is a lesson: do not ever fear to think.” (364)
And, too, it made me think of the wonderful power of money! What can it not do when it is properly applied; and what might it do when basely used! (381)