“You are nearest and dearest and all the world to me; our souls are knit into one, for all life and all time.”
(Mina Harker in Dracula)
Finally, the reason I have been away from this page for a few weeks – Dracula! I finished this novel today and I am very excited to write about it. It made a definite impression on me and left me reflecting on the story and its legacy on the genre of vampire fiction that followed.
Stoker is an excellent writer, and I stopped numerous times to note phrases that I particularly enjoyed. While I frequently underline quotes while I read, it is rare for me to stop to appreciate so much of an author’s language. He is especially impressive in his use of similes and other comparisons, creating sentences and paragraphs that flow together and make a reader stop to appreciate the elegant simplicity of his writing.
Many of my underlined passages come in the journal entries of Mina and Jonathan Harker, whose romance inspires me today, over a century after Stoker originally conceived of it. At the start of Dracula, Jonathan is away from his fiancé on business at Castle Dracula, and Mina becomes sick with worry at his continued unexplained absence. After being reunited, we see them marry and care for each other throughout the hunt for Count Dracula. Together, they discover and face their own weaknesses and imperfections, and their love for one another never wavers. This love inspires all those around them and acts as the continuous beacon of hope throughout the novel.
During the novel, I frequently wondered how much of the story Stoker invented and how much of it was taken from or inspired by existing 19th century vampire folklore. After I finished reading, I looked it up and was surprised to learn that Stoker actually borrowed much of the vampire descriptions from earlier essays and writing. This does not diminish the novel for me, but was definitely surprising as I was under the assumption that Dracula was the first concrete start of Vampire fiction.
However much inspiration Stoker took from other authors, it he clearly left a significant legacy on the genre. Elements of his story are reminiscent of modern vampire stories and television shows, and even of other fantasy stories. The hypnosis of Mina to spy on Dracula immediately reminded me of J.K. Rowling’s “horcruxes,” and the infamous connection between Harry and Voldemort. Maybe it’s the Harry Potter nerd in me, but this definitely seemed like a potential inspiration for Rowling’s idea.
This is probably my favorite of all the classics that I have read this summer, and I would encourage everyone who loves a good suspense story to pick it up immediately!
We traveled up to the Adirondacks last weekend to visit our old friends (who are recently engaged!) and we had an amazing time. Upstate NY is so beautiful, and we really do not appreciate it enough as downstaters. We are accustomed to a different kind of beauty, with the New York skyline and the Hamptons’ beaches, but there is nothing like the expanses of mountains and seemingly untouched land that you find upstate.
After battling the Labor Day Weekend traffic leaving the city, it was open road all the way to Hartford. The drive was absolutely beautiful, with every curve bringing new landscapes and skyscapes that made us want to pull over to look. While we accidentally sped past all of the scenic parking overlooks along the interstate, we enjoyed an amazing sunset from the car. It was probably for the best that we didn’t actually stop, as we didn’t arrive in Hartford until nearly ten o clock as it was. We did make one stop, where we bought the worst pizza I’ve ever had – a quick reminder that we were not in the city anymore.
We spent the weekend catching up with our old friends, who were very welcoming hosts. They recently moved into a new place, which they have decorated in the most adorable way. They also have a large porch, with really nice views overlooking the yard. I can only imagine how nice it will look in the fall once the leaves begin to fall, leaving an unencumbered view of the mountains. In retrospect, I just wish I had taken more than one photo!
As I mentioned at the start of this post, our friends recently became engaged, and their happiness is contagious to everyone around them. They are so excited to start their next adventure, and it is impossible not to be excited for them. There is hardly a better way to spend a holiday weekend, or any weekend, than catching up with old friends. It seems like life continues to get more complicated as we get older, and seeing old pals is like a breath of fresh air. I hope that we can all meet up again soon.
All in all, this was one of the better weekends of the summer, ending the season on a high note (no pun intended). I would definitely encourage all of our downstate companions to make the trip upstate. While I am definitely a proponent of traveling to other countries and states, it is really incredible what you can see without even going too far. New York is a beautiful and diverse state, both geographically and demographically, and I love how much there is to experience.