I did it. I finally did it: I read my first 'classic'.
First, confession: my literary education has been sorely lacking. While I've always been an avid reader, my interests have always erred towards fantasy and sci-fi. I never really read outside genre. During high-school, we read a good handful of Australian YA novels (Looking For Alibrandi--It could still make me cry!), but in my English class, we didn't study Shakespeare, the Brontes, Austen or Dickens. The past 6 months, it's been bothering me. I keep asking myself how I can rattle on about how much I love reading, love books, love literature, when I've really read so little.
So I set out to rectify it. I read Dracula. And it was hard.
Before I get stuck in, let me disclaim: this is isn't really a 'review', so much as my journey into an as yet uncharted realm of my literary education.
Dracula is a great story, but it is not an easy read. It's a rewarding read: the story is complex and clever, dark, frightening, and disturbing. It plays on human fears and weaknesses and paranoias. Mortality, death, loss and spirituality (your mortal soul). The vampire is not a glamourous creature. He is shocking, cruel, vindictive and villainous. He is not a likeable charachter, yet, like Mina, one does develop a degree of pity for this unpleasant creature.
I feel richer for having read it, but it took work (3 months). I've been trying (in earnest) to get through it since the end of last year (my Father-in-Law one-upped me by reading it in a day--I'm jealous!). Also: Stoker's descriptions of the Transylvannian landscape, and the infamous Castle Dracula, are exactly how you ever saw them shown in a movie. It's eerie, atmospheric and the pictures drawn with his words are so evocative. Renfield is a fantastic character--one of the most memorable and intriguing of the story (just had to throw that in!).
I admit it--I love vampire fiction (yeah, yeah, I mean Ed and Bells, Louis and Lestat), but I think given the take we have on vampires in modern fiction, this is the most wonderfully unique and dark tale I've read in the 'genre'. If you like books with pastey-white boys with sharp teeth, you must read this novel.