Travel and geographical references in the most famous work of Bram Stoker.
12 SEP 2011 by SALVATORE INCARDONA
Dracula is an epistolary novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. It was first published as a hardcover in 1897 by Archibald Constable and Co.
The tale begins with Jonathan Harker, a newly qualified English solicitor, journeying by train and carriage from England to Count Dracula's crumbling, remote castle, situated in the Carpathian Mountains on the border of Transylvania, Bukovina and Moldavia.
From the beginning of the novel:
«3 May. Bistritz.--Left Munich at 8:35 P.M., on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible.
The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule.
We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem. get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called "paprika hendl," and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians». (Chapter I)
Stoker mentions the Dracula who fought against the Turks, and was later betrayed by his brother, historical facts which unequivocably point to Vlad III:
«Who was it but one of my own race who as Voivode crossed the Danube and beat the Turk on his own ground? This was a Dracula indeed! Woe was it that his own unworthy brother, when he had fallen, sold his people to the Turk and brought the shame of slavery on them! Was it not this Dracula, indeed, who inspired that other of his race who in a later age again and again brought his forces over the great river into Turkey-land; who, when he was beaten back, came again, and again, though he had to come alone from the bloody field where his troops were being slaughtered, since he knew that he alone could ultimately triumph!». (Chapter III)
Probably the castle of Count Dracula was inspired by SlainsCastle, at which Bram Stoker was a guest of the 19th Earl of Erroll. However, since as Stoker visited the castle in 1895, five years after work on Dracula had begun, there is unlikely to be much connection. Many of the scenes in Whitby and London are based on real places that Stoker frequently visited, although in some cases he distorts the geography for the sake of the story.
Abraham Stoker (1847 – 1912) was born in 1847 in Dublin. His father was a civil servant and his mother was a charity worker and writer. In 1864 Stoker entered Trinity College Dublin. While attending college he began working as an Irish civil servant. He also worked part time as a free lance journalist and drama critic. In 1876 he met Henry Irving, a famous actor, and they soon became friends. Not long after that, Stoker met and fell in love with an aspiring actress named Florence Balcombe. In 1878 Stoker accepted a job working in London as Irving’s personal secretary. Stoker and Balcombe were married in 1878. His first book The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland though written while he was still in Dublin, was published in 1879. While in England Stoker also wrote several novels and short stories. His first book of fiction, Under the Sunset, was published in 1881. Although best known for Dracula, Stoker wrote eighteen books before his death in 1912. He died of exhaustion at the age of 64.