Shivers, Shakes and Screams in the Night
By Lucy Hartbury
With their dark brooding looks, strength and underlying sensuality, Vampires are understandingly popular in fiction and films. In folk law, the idea of an un-dead that feeds off the living has been around for centuries. However, the vampire as we know it today had to wait until 1819 for its first major appearance in fiction with the short story, ‘Vampyre,’ written by John William Polidori. A best-seller in its time, this story was later eclipsed by the famous Victorian Gothic novel, Dracula in 1897.
Dracula is the vampire novel that spawned a thousand copies. A masterpiece of horror writing, it also contains strong elements of love, courage and friendship. The book is unusual in that it has been written in a series of diary entries, letters and newspaper clippings, which makes it an engrossing read. Although Victorian, the writing has dated very little and the novel’s dark settings in both London and Transylvania still raise a chill to the spine. I have read the book many times and still shudder at the description of Dracula climbing down the outside wall of his castle, as witnessed by Jonathan Harker.
‘But my very feelings changed to repulsion and terror when I saw the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over the dreadful abyss, face down with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings.’ (Dracula, Bram Stoker)
Dracula would have been a shocking novel for the more innocent Victorians to read, as the original contains an underlying sensuality not usually seen in mainstream 18th century novels. This can be seen in this extract beneath when Jonathan meets Dracula’s women for the first time.
‘There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat.’ (Dracula, Bram Stoker)
In my version of Dracula, I have enhanced this level of sexuality by imagining not only what happened between Jonathan and the vampire women, but also the other characters in the book. The love between Jonathan and Mina, and between Lucy and Arthur, is explored in detail, as are the lustful and guilty thoughts of Dr. Seward towards Lucy, who was his patient and best friend’s fiancée. As Lucy and Mina are drawn closer into the darkness of Count Dracula themselves, they both experience a sexual awakening at odds with their strict, Victorian upbringings.
My new version of the classic increases the level of sensuality of the story, whilst retaining the original brilliance of the novel.
Solicitor Jonathon Harker is lucky to escape with his life after he is duped into visiting Dracula’s castle. But while recovering from his ordeal, he doesn’t realize that his enemy is travelling to England, where his young wife-to-be and her friend, Lucy, reside. When Lucy is struck down by an unknown illness that takes a sinister turn, her friend and doctor, John Seward is forced to call in his old teacher, Van Helsing, to solve the mystery. Van Helsing's horrifying conclusions throw them all into a desperate battle against one of man’s most cunning and terrifying foes: Count Dracula.
Always a spicy novel, this version includes scenes that Victorian prudery stopped Bram Stoker from writing himself. Have you ever wondered what really happened in the castle between Jonathon Harker and Dracula’s women? Or about the doomed relationship between Arthur and Lucy? Here is the famous horror classic revealed in all its sensual glory.
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