Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Kiss

It's really very interesting to be able to study Stoker's Notes. It allows one to see what material inspired e.g. Christopher Frayling to claim that Stoker's book actually must have been inspired by a dream:

'Above all, the 'Notes' in the Rosenbach Foundation confirm, beyond any doubt, that the dream (was is really a nightmare?) from which the novel eventually emerged was there from the very beginning.

In March 1890 Bram Stoker wrote on a piece of scrap paper, in handwriting which he always called 'an extremely bad hand': 'young man goes out - sees girls one tries - to kiss him not on the lips but throat. Old Count interferes - rage and fury diabolical. This man belongs to me I want him.' Six days later, he reiterated: 'Loneliness, the Kiss "this man belongs to me" '. Again, in February 1892, in one of the many 'structures' he scribbled down: 'Bistritz - Borgo Pass - Castle - Sortes Virgil - Belongs to me'. And in shorthand, again and again, over the next few years: '& the visitors - is it a dream - women stoop to kis him. terror of death. Suddenly Count turns her away - "this man belongs to me" '; 'May 15 Monday Women kissing'; 'Book 1 Ch 8 Belongs to me'.

Whatever the changes that happened between 1890 and 1897 to the novel's beginning, its characters, its villain, its locations and its length, one incident and one alone remained constant right up to the publication day, the incident which occurs when, as Jonathan Harker recalls in his Journal entry for 15 May, 'I suppose I must have fallen asleep; I hope so, but I fear ... I cannot in the least believe that it was all sleep.' ' (Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula (1991), p. 301).

So now, those pieces of paper are easily available, and going through the Notes brings back memories of hours spent on this subject in my youth. With Leslie S. Klinger's new annotated edition of Dracula being published soon, perhaps it's time to re-read the novel which somehow got me started on my own search for information about vampires and magia posthuma some thirty years ago.

Here, by the way, is a new comic book adaptation of that famous scene.

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