Thumbs up for Dracula by Bram Stoker. Horror.
The firstest and the bestest. Really excellent in every way. Ah, those were the days, when one could without embarrassment write a book in which the women are all sweet and pure, and their devoted men are all brave, noble and emotive. (There are more instances of men weeping in this book than there are in the whole of American literature.) As the heroine Mina says: “…the world seems full of good men – even if there are monsters in it.” Yes, it certainly is full of good men, and they have a chance to shine in their pursuit of that monster. (Amusingly, when the gentlemen heroes do make a major mistake, it’s the classic Victorian one of well-meant sexism – which satisfyingly does turn out to be a mistake. Bit of a feminist was Stoker, I think.) Dracula is one scary dude, and I stayed up late to find out how it would all end. I wish Stoker had written a proper sequel, or, failing that, I would love to see a good mini-series made of it.
Oh! But it seemed fresh and pure in the night air after the terror of that vault. How sweet it was to see the clouds race by, and the passing gleams of the moonlight between the scudding clouds crossing and passing – like the gladness and sorrow of a man’s life; how sweet it was to breathe the fresh air, that had no taint of death and decay; how humanising to see the red lighting of the sky beyond the hill, and to hear far away the muffled roar that marks the life of a great city. Each in his own way was solemn and overcome. Arthur was silent, and was, I could see, striving to grasp the purpose and the inner meaning of the mystery. I was myself tolerably patient, and half inclined again to throw aside doubt and to accept Van Helsing’s conclusions. Quincey Morris was phlegmatic in the way of a man who accepts all things, and accepts them in the spirit of cool bravery, with hazard of all he has at stake. Not being able to smoke, he cut himself a good-sized plug of tobacco and began to chew. 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: –
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