Stoker on Stoker: Celebrating History on Bram Stoker’s Birthday

Dacre Stoker, great nephew of Bram Stoker, visiting author speaking at UNG Cumming campus.

Bram Stoker was born on November 8, 1847, in Dublin, Ireland, to a world that was dark and gothic and primed for vampires. Bram suffered from an unknown illness through his childhood, but it complemented the gothic reality of life. Ireland suffered from severe famine and illness, not just in his childhood, but his mother’s as well. She would recount the famine and illness of her own childhood to Bram since it was his favorite bedtime story. Her stories included mass graves whose inhabitants weren’t always dead.

As an adult, Stoker gained a love of the theater and the dramatism that went along with it. He was close friends with Henry Irving and managed Irving’s Lyceum Theatre in London. Bram would research dialogue and culture for the plays, to ensure they were as accurate as possible.

Dacre Stoker is Bram’s great-grandnephew. He decided to follow in his Great-Uncle’s footsteps, and spoke to UNG late September. Dacre’s research provides many clues into Bram’s mind as he wrote Dracula. Bram’s childhood experiences created a dark story, and combined with the skills from his adult career, his story seemed too real.

Dracula is an epistolary novel, meaning it’s written like a journal or diary, making the events more personal and intimate. Bram heavily incorporated current scientific discoveries, such as blood transfusions and the phonograph, and made them essential to Dracula’s defeat. Bram’s theater skills gave him the research and ability to create convincing identities for his characters, cementing the worry that Count Dracula and his undead court were real.

Meeting Dacre Stoker after he spoke at UNG Dahlonega campus.

Dracula possess such well-crafted details, and Dacre’s work helps readers see their favorite vampire in a new horrific light. Bram’ forgotten journal, written between 1871 and 1878, was discovered and published in 2013. In his presentation, Dacre showed many never-before-seen notes about Dracula. Included was an early character page. We saw the early development of Jonathan Harker and Van Helsing’s characters, but we also saw the moment of discovery where Dracula became Dracula. The Count’s description resided at the top of the page, and as Bram worked through the other characters, he found inspiration. The vampire’s previous name was struck, and “Dracula” was written across the page.

Dacre’s research led him to write Dracula’s first authorized sequel, Dracula: The Un-Dead, along with Ian Holt. The novel follows Quincey Harker, Jonathan and Mina’s son, as worry grows that Count Dracula is not truly dead.

If you get the opportunity to, we highly suggest meeting Dacre Stoker and listening to his talk. It’s a rare moment in history to see the creation of folklore, and Dacre’s hard work makes Bram’s life accessible to each vampire-fan, even if they don’t have their own fangs.

Breaking Dawn Part 2: Whether the novels and films are loved or hated, they do bring in revenue.

*Potential Spoilers

   Author Stephanie Myer’s sensation The Twilight Series has resonated with teens, and even some adults, since the first novel was published in 2005. When the movies, based on the novels, were TWILIGHT-BDreleased, “twihards” and vampire/werewolf culture exploded. However, for every lover of the novels and movies, there are twice as many detractors. While the novels are obviously not astounding works of classical literature, their fan base has made them noticeable. Meyer did not write the novels with the hope that they would become classic pieces of literature, but with the hope of creating something entertaining for young adults. Little, Brown and Company, the publisher of the saga, has done well with the series that has sold over 100 million copies. The film’s final installment of the saga, Breaking Dawn Part 2, is being released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 2, 2013. The films were as popular as the novels, if not more, yet there are many differences between the two.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 begins after the main character, breaking-dawn2-mackenzie-robBella Cullen, awakens as a transformed vampire. Her vampire husband, Edward, was forced to change her from a human to a vampire after she almost died in childbirth. Now the couple has a daughter, Renesmee, who is half human and half vampire, and she grows at an impeccable speed. If the story does not sound wild enough yet, add a werewolf, Jacob, who is in love with Renesmee because he imprinted on her, meaning he is her protector because he has already seen that in the future the two of them are soul mates. If that still is not dramatic enough, there are evil Italian vampires, known as the Volturi, who are coming to destroy the Cullen family because making immortal children is forbidden, and they do not understand that Renesmee is actually part human. There is just enough dramatic romance and supernatural existence to make this a perfect teen thriller. While the main plot and characters are the same in both the novel and the film, there are plenty new twists and changes within the film.

The amount of details and scenes that are changed in the film are too many to write for a simple movie review. Some slight changes in the film include: Renesmee is shown a lot less, Bella’s father’s attitude about the change is different, Bella’s thirst appears stronger, the ordeal Bella goes through to ensure Renesmee and Jacob’s safety is simplified, and it ends with Edward and Bella in the meadow, instead of in their cottage. However, the biggest change in the film was the twist at the end. In the novel, The Volturi leave the Cullens in peace after they are shown another human/vampire child who reached full maturity at eighteen, and has kept the vampire’s existence a secret. It is not too believable t121115_MOV_BreakingDawn2.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largehat the Volturi, who are not only evil but also want to destroy the Cullen’s large clan, would simply leave the family alone after seeing one example of someone who is like Renesmee. In the film, the twist explains their reasoning better. Alice Cullen, who can see events of the future, shows them a vision that if they kill Renesmee, the main members of the Volturi and members of the Cullens, will also die. The vision is powerful enough to scare the Volturi, and make them change their mind and return to Italy. The twist was enough to make fans incredibly nervous, but added more clarity to the conclusion.

The Twilight Series is not popular among well-read literature crowds. Yet, it is relevant because it shows what type of stories can sell, and what will bring in revenue for publishers. The balance between the simple, pure romance combined with supernatural forces and over-the-top drama makes it exactly what many teenage girls would want to read. Since the book lacks eloquent and beautiful language and has a predictably happy ending, it does not impress literature critics. The films do not impress many movie critics either. This year Breaking Dawn Part 2 won seven “Razzie” awards, which is the opposite of an Oscar in that the “Razzie” is awarded for what they feel are the worst films. The novels and films will continue to be joked about and belittled by the detractors because they do not measure up to great classics. However, the basic ideas that love is something that lasts forever, and love puts youtrailer_twilight-breaking-dawn-2-e1340198652795 into your own type of larger than life scenario, are ones that can be relatable to by almost all types of people. Regardless if you are a true “twihard” fan, or completely detest the series, it cannot be argued that Twilight has left its mark on pop culture and inspired many other young adult authors.

*Images courtesy of Summit Entertainment

-Amber Paige Lee