The best-selling book of the early 20th century, just behind…the Bible, the horrific novel Dracula, published in 1897, depicts the famous blood-sucking vampire and a hitherto unexplored and little-known region of England, Transylvania. However, its Irish author, Bram Stoker, had never set foot in this Carpathian region and remained in his native Dublin, a region that has nothing to be ashamed of in terms of folk legends.
He fears the first light of day like garlic, wooden stakes and holy water, feasts on the fresh blood of poor human or animal victims, and has neither reflection nor shadow. This figure of the vampire, this “undead” capable of metamorphosing into a bat at any moment, has been handed down to posterity through Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.
A major work of Gothic fiction, Dracula appeared at the height of the English Industrial Revolution and the British Empire, offering a chiaroscuro vision of progress and science.
Many of the strikingly realistic elements used to describe the customs and habits of Transylvania actually come from the author’s childhood memories, from terrifying folk tales listened to by the fireside and from dusty, voluminous collections found in the Dublin library.
So many places and stories where the macabre is part of everyday life, far removed from Count Dracula’s native Romania.
Stoker, the undead who thought he was doomed
If Bram Stoker had the idea of a creature suffering from porphyria – a blood disease – and fleeing the sun like the plague, to build his vampire myth, he first drew inspiration from his own fragile health.
Abraham Stoker – from his diminutive name Bram – had the good fortune to be born in Marino Crescent, an affluent neighborhood on the outskirts of Dublin. And this at a time – 1847 – when famine was ravaging the city’s deprived districts.
But Dracula’s future father was nevertheless forced to spend the first years of his life bedridden, gnawed away by a mysterious ailment.
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