Gary Oldman in Dracula

Gary Oldman in Dracula

I’ve been quietly plotting my comeback this week — and thinking about how to further smackdown the quietly rotting, putrid, and, frankly, smelly zombies — and came across this totally cute book for literature peeps like me: Don’t Know Much About Literature. To further insist upon the vampires utter domination of the entire undead realm (don’t even get me started about ghosts), can any book possibly compete with the king of all novels in this genre, Dracula? The following is a quick quiz excerpted from Kenneth C. Davis’s and Jenny Davis’s aforementioned book:

Don’t Know Much About Dracula

Few books have captured readers’ imaginations as Dracula did, spawning hundreds of books and movies, not to mention uncountable cape-and-fangs Halloween costumes. Published in 1897 in Victorian England, the novel blended the folklore of vampires and other bloodsucking creatures with Catholic traditions, scraps of Romanian history, and many of Bram Stoker’s own inventions. Born Abraham Stoker in Dublin, Ireland, Stoker (1847-1912) wrote Dracula as a novel told through journals, letters, and fictional news clippings to lend his fantastical horror story a realistic feel — and the novel’s contemporary setting added to its chilling authenticity. Sink your teeth into this Dracula quiz.

True or False

1. Bram Stoker took Count Dracula’s name from the fifteenth century Romanian prince Vladislav III, better known as “Vlad the Impaler.”

2. In Stoker’s novel, before Count Dracula transforms Lucy into a vampire, he famously whispers, “I want to suck your blood.”

3. Stoker drew the following details from eastern European vampire folklore: vampires can’t come into a house uninvited; they can take the shape of wolves; garlic and crosses repulse vampires; they can be killed by a stake through the heart.

4. Some scholars cite the influences of Celtic vampire legends on Dracula.

5. Bram Stoker’s Dracula popularized the notion that sunlight was harmful to vampires.

Answers

1. True. Vlad the Impaler, born in Transylvania in 1431, was called “Dracula,” or “Son of Dracul.” His father, Vladislav II, was nicknamed “Dracul,” meaning “devil” and “dragon” — not for evil deeds, but because he belonged to the Order of the Dragon, a secret fraternity of knights whose mission was to protect the Holy Roman Empire from Ottoman invasion. In early drafts, Stoker’s character was named “Count Wampyr.”

2. False. Dracula never says this line in Bram Stoker’s novel. In fact, even the Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi didn’t say, “I want to suck your blood” in the classic 1931 movie version, though this line is often quoted as his.

3. True. These details were the result of Stoker’s extensive research.

4. True. Although Stoker’s interest in Slavic vampires is well documented, scholars have suggested that Stoker, an Irish writer, was also inspired by Celtic folklore involving vampiric chieftains and bloodsucking fairies.

5. False. This was an invention of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 movie Nosferatu, an unauthorized film version of Dracula.

From Don’t Know Much About Literature. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. copyright (c) 2009 by Kenneth C. Davis & Jenny Davis. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

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