The Essential Dracula; Including the Complete Novel By Bram Stroker (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe
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Leonard Wolf's copious footnotes provide the reader with an ongoing lesson in social history. He addresses every imaginable allusion in the text, sometimes with short essays. The notes are more elaborate and cover a broader variety of subjects than the footnotes in the Norton Critical Edition of "Dracula". Some intriguing notes include: recipes for the Romanian dishes on which Jonathan Harker dines, population demographics for Transylvania in the late 19th century, translations of old Mr. Swales' dialect, explanations of Victorian figures of speech, and the particulars of Victorian typewriters that Mina employs so frequently. Leonard Wolf's annotations are blessing to "Dracula" fans. My only reservation about them is that the notes in "The Essential Dracula" cannot be easily read. Unlike its predecessor "The Annotated Dracula", which placed its sizable notes in the margins, "The Essential Dracula"'s notes are truly footnotes. They are written in a miniscule font at the bottom of the pages. One cannot simply peruse the notes, as I so enjoy with "The Annotated Dracula". It is too difficult to determine what text is being referenced. So you really do have to read these notes as you read the novel, which I find impractical and not as enjoyable as studying them later.
"The Essential Dracula" offers 3 Appendices. Appendix A is the legendary and entirely superfluous deleted first chapter of "Dracula", entitled "Dracula's Guest". Appendix B provides a selected Dracula filmography and a list of notable theatrical dramatizations. The filmography includes title, alternative title, director, studio, country, and leading performers for 71 Dracula films, 1920-1992, that feature Count Dracula but are not necessarily based on Bram Stoker's novel. Appendix C is a bibliography.
"We were struck with the fact, that in all the mass of material of which the record is composed, there is hardly one authentic document; nothing but a mass of type-writing, except the later note-books of Mina and Seward and myself, and Van Helsing's memorandum. We could hardly ask any one, even did we wish to, to accept these as proofs of so wild a story." (pp. 444-445)
This edition is particularly rich and rewarding for readers who are returning to "Dracula" for subsequent readings. Leonard Wolf's introduction and his abundant footnotes enrich the tale and supplement the story in a highly entertaining fashion. It's like reading the novel with a literary tour guide looking over your shoulder and making sure you don't miss any point of interest.
Ultimately, a careful rereading of "Dracula" reveals just how little it contains of what we now consider conventional about the vampire myth. The "horror" it contains is also quite tame--much of the terror throughout the novel is masterfully implied rather than blatant, and Dracula himself is hardly even present for the majority of the action. "Dracula" is indeed a classic--one that rewards rereadings, reconsideration, and constant review.