by Elizabeth Miller (2006) 2nd Edition.
The 1st Edition hardback (2000) is out of print.
1. The Sources for Dracula;
2. Stoker and the Writing of Dracula;
3. The Novel;
4. The Geography of Dracula;
5. Vlad the Impaler;
6. Source Alert.
Professor Miller demolishes many commonly-held
beliefs about Bram Stoker's famous novel.
Had Bram Stoker ever heard of Vlad the Impaler? No!
Is there a real Castle Dracula? No!
Must Dracula stay out of the sunlight? No!
"Let me state unequivocally, Dracula: Sense & Nonsense is a very important volume. It stands out amid the many publications of the last decade and joins that small select set of books that belongs among the desk references of every serious scholar, researcher, and writer in the field." Professor J Gordon Melton, Cesnur.
"Miller's book is the latest bitter exchange between the warring camps of 'Draculites' ... I loved the nits picked in this." Professor John Sutherland, The Good Book Guide.
"What treasured myths are exploded ... Any researcher in the field of Dracula studies would do well to consult Miller's book." Kathy Krusberg, The Vampire's Crypt.
"[This books] lays to rest close to one hundred popular misconceptions ... [It is] a coffin full of bones worth picking and dirt worth turning; an undeniably enlightening read." Rue Morgue.
"Chapter 5 thoroughly debunks the idea that Stoker had the notorious Vlad Tepes in mind when he created his infamous Count ... I think that Miller's work is an important one - a valuable corrective in many ways." Anthony Ambrogio, in Video Watchdog.
Since 1970 we have witnessed a plethora
of books, articles and documentaries about Dracula and
its author, Bram Stoker. But this has come at a cost: the dissemination
of an unsettling amount of unreliable information. The time has
come to step back and take stock. How accurate is the material
that is being foisted upon us? How much of what is offered as
fact is speculation, error, or, even worse, deliberate contrivance?
How can we possibly separate the sense from the nonsense?
The problem is pervasive. The most critical manifestations are to be found in a number of books widely accepted as authoritative texts. Their conjectures and inaccuracies are accepted as facts, and the errors are rapidly compounded. Before we know it, we become mired in a bog of misconceptions, contradictory findings, and blurred distinctions. Examples can be found everywhere: in biographies of Stoker, in scholarly as well as popular studies of Dracula, in encyclopedia entries, and in television documentaries.
The "nonsense" that this book will challenge takes many forms. There are the outright errors (for example, that Stoker began writing Dracula in 1895); unsubstantiated propositions (for example, that Stoker knew about Elizabeth Bathory); and widespread distortions of earlier errors and speculations (for example, that Stoker's inspiration for Dracula was that infamous fifteenth-century vampire, Vlad the Impaler). We find overstatements made in the flush of excitement over a new proposition; fabricated conversations of which there are no records; false statements about what is or is not in the novel; misconceptions fed by countless movies that bear little resemblance to the text; and wild speculations, prompted by the determination to force Stoker's novel to fit a pet interpretative theory. So widely accepted are such misconceptions that the task of dislodging them will be far from easy.
Who are the perpetrators? They range from casual writers whose main objective appears to be to capitalize on a popular topic to serious scholars. While all must be held accountable, I tend to focus more rigorously on those writers (including a number of academics) whose books and articles have had a major impact. At times we are dealing with specialists in other fields who are just "passing through." Rather than go through the legwork, they tend to rely on what has already been published, much of which, as we shall see, is unreliable. Thus the errors get perpetuated and, even worse, are employed for the foundation of new findings. Other writers are beating a particular theoretical drum, and are determined to force Dracula into a pre-determined mold, whether it fits or not. Yet others have cobbled together books in order to jump on a popular bandwagon (as occurred during the Dracula centennial year - 1997).
Misconceptions and inaccuracies are also promulgated through numer-ous television and video documentaries. While I appreciate that interviews for the media are often heavily edited (I have suffered from this myself), I feel justified in quoting from such broadcasts. Many viewers are convinced that anything stated on A&E or on the History Channel in the United States, or the BBC in the United Kingdom, must be accurate. Alas, this is not the case!
This book purports where possible to set the record straight. To achieve that objective, I am guided by three fundamental principles. The first is that Dracula is a novel worthy of scrutiny, employing the same research methods applied to more canonized works of literature. The disturbing proliferation of inaccuracies is due in part to the dismissive attitude of many towards what they consider a second-rate author and novel. Consequently, an "anything goes" attitude permeates much of the published material. Coupled with that is the innate potential in the subject matter for sensationalism. Numerous books and television documentaries are clearly aimed more at attracting readers and viewers than at enlightenment. And to date, no one else has taken on the task of scrutinizing the volumes of material in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.
My second premise is that facts do exist, in spite of the continuous efforts by some to blur them or to dispense with them altogether. For starters, there was an author named Bram Stoker and there is a novel entitled Dracula. There are things that happened; there are things that might have happened; there are things that did not happen. Some statements are verifiably correct, some are speculative, some are imaginative reconstruc-tions, and some are wrong. Fact and speculation are not synonymous; fact and fiction are not interchangeable.
Thirdly, I decided from the outset that all material would be subject to scrutiny. At the risk of offending sensibilities and even straining the bonds of friendship, I am challenging the work of several prominent writers and scholars, for many of whom I have the deepest respect. I have made no exceptions, not to books on Dracula written by my editor, Clive Leatherdale, nor my own material. To accomplish this, I have had to force myself to stand back, to extricate myself from any favorite theory or pet peeve. I have donned the garb of the detective, whose primary task is to winnow out the truth, no matter where the search might lead.
I was pleased to accept Clive's suggestion that each entry begin with a faulty or questionable statement from a published account. Where possible, I trace the source(s) of the error and endeavor to account for its origins, or at least suggest where the perpetrator may have found the shaky information. In some cases, the trail is a long and winding one. I attempt to indicate whether the error resulted from reliance on a flawed source, whether it arose from a misreading of primary material, or whether it appears to be pure invention. The exploration of each piece of "nonsense" is followed by a corrective. Here I rely, where possible, on undisputed evidence, such as Bram Stoker's own Working Notes for Dracula, other primary documents, and the novel itself.
This book offers no new interpretations of Dracula. As a rule, I do not challenge interpretations of the novel; but if they are based on distortions or inaccuracies, then I consider them fair game. Nor do I object to speculation, as long as it is labeled as such. But speculation has a way of shapeshifting into fact, once it is repeated often enough. Movies based on Dracula (which are not bound to be "true" to the text) are mentioned only insofar as they may be responsible for perpetuating common misconceptions.
I should like to answer three questions that some readers might pose. First of all, does any of this matter? Is not Dracula, in the final analysis, just a book to be read and enjoyed? Far be it from me to diminish the pleasure that anyone finds in my favorite novel. But I cannot stand by and allow the continuation of so many outrageous statements without responding with a challenge.
The second question is: How do I know that I am right? In most cases, the evidence that I provide is incontestable. Where doubts remain, I am prepared to admit to them. If I have overlooked any crucial piece of evidence, I am happy for it to be brought to my attention. New information that has come to light since 2000 (for example, the results of preliminary findings by Robert Eighteen-Bisang concerning the typescript of Dracula) has been incorporated into this revised edition.
Finally, who am I to take on this monumental (and possibly thankless) task? True, I am somewhat of a "johnny-come-lately" in Dracula studies, having made my written debut in the early 1990s. But this provides me with a distinct advantage: I have been unencumbered by earlier misconceptions, and less affected by the "if you hear or read something often enough you begin to accept it" syndrome. I assure each of my readers that I have no axe to grind, no scores to settle. My one and only concern is to rescue Bram Stoker and his classic novel from the quagmire of popular misconception.