By Bram Stoker
Dracula is a fascinating tale with literary allegories woven throughout and genuinely terrifying moments that will make your skin crawl. While I love this book for its spooky environment and moments, I love it even more because of how campy it is. For those who may not know, camp used in this way is defined as exaggerated and theatrical. Any type of media that takes itself extremely seriously, yet manages to be humorous perfectly fits into the role of campy media.
You may wonder, “how can you find this classic horror humorous?” for which I say, “hear me out.” To plead my case I’ll be using some examples from the beginning of the book, so… light spoilers for the beginning of a book that is over 100 years old.
Now imagine Jonathan Harker, staying in Dracula’s castle, spooky stuff happening around him, the horror escalating as each day goes by, but he writes of these experiences as if nothing is amiss. It’s a bit odd that Count Dracula freaked out when he nicked himself while shaving, and that he couldn’t see the count in the mirror. Yet, it wasn’t until he was accosted by three ladies that spoke of drinking his blood that he stopped to think, maybe there is something more going on.
Now, Dracula is an epistolary novel, meaning it’s framed as a collection of letters. Epistolary novels are written that way to make the novel feel more grounded in reality in spite of the fantastical elements. So when Jonathan Harker is running for his life, just know that he managed to stop long enough to write down all the crazy happenings in his journal.
To top it all off, once the novel switches over to Lucy, our second point of view character, she is sharing her frightful predicament whilst she has just been proposed to by three different men on the same day! There’s John Steward, a psychologist who works at an insane asylum; Quincy Morris, a man whose only real personality trait is that he’s a Texan; and of course Arthur Holmwood, her true love who’s proposal she accepts.
This novel is great in so many ways. For those who want to take it seriously, I hope you enjoy it. And if you just can’t take it seriously, I suggest you lean into the campiness and enjoy the ride.
Book Review by Taryn P. (Circulation)