Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book of the week: “The Essential Dracula: The Difinitive Annotated Edition”

The Essential Dracula: The Definitive Annotated Edition, By Leonard Wolf
(Obviously the actual novel bit is by Bram Stoker)

Get me drunk enough, and there are a few things you’ll commonly see me do: talk with an Irish accent (even though I am in no way related to anyone Irish), spout random French words from my old high school French class, and complain that nobody has ever properly given Dracula it’s due on the big screen. What does this have to do with my favorite edition of Dracula I’ve ever read? Well, I’ll tell you.

It is not easy to write an annotated book without getting heavy-handed, or filling the novel with footnotes that just aren’t necessary or interesting. A lot of times, annotated books just break down to defining a word a moderate reader might not understand, like ‘superfluous’ or ‘clatu virata nicto’. Somehow, Mr. Wolf managed to inject an interesting or useful note into practically every page. The footnotes themselves actually add to Dracula, rather than taking away from it.

In reading this edition, I felt like I had come to know more about the time period, the novel, and Bram Stoker himself. What’s more, since there’s just so MUCH information, reading it again has still left me feeling like I learned something new every time. It also convinces me a little bit more each time I read this edition, that a film has never been made which could compare to the book. Yes, I understand movies rarely are anywhere near as good as the books they’re based on, but you’d think after 50+ tries, someone would have nailed it in the past 90 years.

I recommend this for those of us who love Dracula, and for those of us who love history. There’s an earlier edition with lots of pretty pictures and illustrations thrown in too, but I haven’t gotten my hand on a copy yet. Ultimately, I think if anyone actually decided to do true justice to the story of Dracula in a film, they would reap the most benefit from reading this edition. Thank you, Mr. Wolf, for this wonderful read.

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