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Comments

Bryan

Patrik Svenson asks (http://infocult.typepad.com/dracula/2005/05/draculablog_lau.html#c5993259) about content dated earlier than June, namely April and early May. Based on the novel's published text, we've covered May. References to April are few, and suggested by texts "published" (by nominal date) subsequently.

Leslie Katz

In an earlier comment, I mentioned that I had never read Dracula before. Spurred on by this blog, I bought a copy of the book recently and started to read it from the beginning. I soon realised that the entries in the blog are not reproducing the book page by page, but are re-ordering the text.

Has that difference from Stoker's order and the justification for it already been discussed in the blog? If so, I haven't read about it. Where will I find it?

Baby Jinx

I've read the novel, but I've never blogged before. As I understand blogging, Leslie, the purpose is to reproduce the story in real time, just as though it is happening as you read it. That's why the diary entries (in case you haven't noticed) are posted on the exact day that they are written by the characters.

For those of us who have read the novel (some of us several times!), reading it in blog is a new experience, one that is triggering some interesting comments. One of the biggest is how slowly the story is unfolding. Jonathan has already been at castle Dracula for a month. When you read the novel, Jonathan's stay at the castle seems to transpire in a matter of days.

It is really be interesting to hear how you, as someone reading the novel for the first time, are experiencing reading over blog time vs reading the novel over a week or so.

Leslie Katz

Baby Jinx,

I don't claim to have any systematic knowledge of literary theory, but doesn't reproducing the book in an order other than that in which the author intended it to appear raise significant questions in that area? It reminds me a bit of the modern-day technique of remixing sounds. I'm not saying that it's wrong, looked at as a literary device, just that there must be different views open about it.

In the area in which I do claim some systematic knowledge, the law, I blush to say that that systematic knowledge doesn't extend to the law of intellectual property. However, I am aware that, under that law, as it exists in some places, there's a notion of "moral rights". I think that it began in Europe, but has now spread elsewhere, including to Australia, where I live. The idea, as I understand it (crudely), is that one can't deal with someone else's imaginative work in a way which insults that work. I assume that that idea could have nothing to do with this blog of Dracula for at least a couple of reasons. The imaginer's not around anymore and, in any event, no one could seriously say that reproducing the work as it's being reproduced in this blog does insult the original.

However, once moral rights came into Australian law, we had a number of cases of which I'm aware in which architects and sculptors either sued or threatened to sue others, relying on their moral rights. One instance was a proposed alteration to the building which houses the Australian National Gallery, which proposal was abandoned after the original architect complained about it. Another instance was when a sculpture in a prominent public place was proposed to be moved to another place, which although public, was one where hardly anyone was likely to see the sculpture.

Well, that said, back to the book, where it's July and we're in Whitby.

Elena

Good thing Dracula is in the public domain, then ^__^ As such, it is perfectly proper and legal to create derivative works such as this weblog.

I recommend you to read Lawrence Lessig's book Free Culture, as it explains current issues concerning copyright law and public domain. You can download it legally from its website:
http://free-culture.org/

Baby Jinx

Leslie wrote: "...doesn't reproducing the book in an order other than that in which the author intended it to appear raise significant questions in that area?"

Yes, and that's one of things that makes a blog interesting. The question is this: How does reading _Dracula_ as the events are unfolding in real time differ from reading the story as the author/editor cut and pasted it for publication?

"...I am aware that, under that law, as it exists in some places, there's a notion of "moral rights'..."

Do you really feel that Stoker, were he able to look down from the great beyond, would be P.O.ed that some readers have found an additional way to enjoy his novel over 100 years after he wrote it?

Do you feel that those who have borrowed from the novel for film and play adaptations or for the writing of prequels and sequels to the story should also be called on the carpet for violating Stoker's "moral rights" and/or "insulting" his work?

Is it just me or do you think the world would be a much drearier place if no one was ever allowed to adapt the work of another, whether it be in tribute, satire, or expansion, because it might prove "insulting" to the artist?

Ben

Someone (Baby Jinx, I think) made a comment a while back that has really stuck with me about how you really get a sense of how long Jonathan Harker was at Dracula's now that you see it blogged. You don't get that sense in reading the book how many days go by between events in the beginning.

Regarding Baby Jinx comment, in my adaption of the Dracula novel, I try to remain very faithful to Stoker's work except for this -- the vampire hunters allow Lucy Westenra to live and she is taken prisoner for study (they cover up what they have done by saying they killed her -- it's explained in the foreword). So in that regard, I'm a purist. I'm not as fond of Kim Newman taking the Stoker characters and making of them villains. But I had a great deal of fun in working in Stoker's world even though I'm sure some would object to the change I made.

Leslie Katz

Baby Jinx: Do you really feel that Stoker, were he able to look down from the great beyond, would be P.O.ed that some readers have found an additional way to enjoy his novel over 100 years after he wrote it?

Me: The way the question's framed invites only one answer. If it were reframed to ask whether I think Stoker could be justifiably unhappy about the way his work is being reproduced in this blog, the answer's in the negative, as I said earlier.

Baby Jinx: Do you feel that those who have borrowed from the novel for film and play adaptations or for the writing of prequels and sequels to the story should also be called on the carpet for violating Stoker's "moral rights" and/or "insulting" his work?

Me: One reason why I don't know the answer to the question is because, as I said earlier, I just don't know enough about the "moral rights" idea and the whole area of intellectual property to decide whether the moral right is a good thing. If it is, then presumably some borrowers might be justifiably complained about, others not.

Incidentally, your reference to film adaptations reminded me of a couple of things.

I remember that there have been complaints in recent times by film people in America about the process of "colorising" films originally made in black and white. There've also been complaints by film people in America about the process of "bowdlerising" films. (I feel sure I've read about the existence of businesses now that take the "naughty bits" out of films and rent them out in their altered state.)

Where this "moral rights" idea exists, I wonder how it'd be applied to a collective effort like a film. Who'd be able to assert it, the director, the producer, screenwriter, actors, etc, etc? What if they disagreed with one another?

Baby Jinx: Is it just me or do you think the world would be a much drearier place if no one was ever allowed to adapt the work of another, whether it be in tribute, satire, or expansion, because it might prove "insulting" to the artist?

Me: Comparative dreariness is also not my field, though where this moral rights idea exists, it must stop some adaptations, though not others.

Baby Jinx

I asked: Do you really feel that Stoker, were he able to look down from the great beyond, would be P.O.ed that some readers have found an additional way to enjoy his novel over 100 years after he wrote it?

Leslie replied: The way the question's framed invites only one answer.

ME: Actually, it invites two answers: 1) Yes, I think Stoker would be P.O.ed, or 2) No, I don't think Stoker would be P.O.ed.

Leslie: If it were reframed to ask whether I think Stoker could be justifiably unhappy about the way his work is being reproduced in this blog, the answer's in the negative, as I said earlier.

ME: Then your answer is 'no'.

Leslie: One reason why I don't know the answer to the question is because, as I said earlier, I just don't know enough about the "moral rights" idea and the whole area of intellectual property to decide whether the moral right is a good thing.

Then, as I see it, this discussion is moot. "Dracula" is in the public domain, so there is nothing unlawful about blogging it. Also, Stoker is dead, so he is not here to argue that his moral rights are being violated. Therefore, any further discussion on "moral rights" with respect to the blogging of _Dracula_ is purely academic.

You might have better luck at raising discussion if you were to harken back to the 1920s when Stoker's widow sued F.W. Murnau for his use of _Dracula_ re-adapted without permission into the film "Nosferatu."

Leslie Katz

This is partly a PS to my last post.

First, I found a brief explanation of the moral rights idea as it exists in English law at the following page:

http://www.intellectual-property.gov.uk/std/faq/copyright/moral_rights.htm

Secondly, I looked at the front part of the edition of Dracula I have, which is in Penguin Classics series. I'm told that my edition has been edited with an Introduction and Notes by Maurice Hindle. I'm also told, "The moral right of the editor has been asserted". I suppose making that statement must be necessary under the relevant statute, since I see it all the time in books, but never stopped to think before about what it meant.

Finally, I'm interested in Baby Jinx's reference to Stoker's widow's claim against Murnau. Can you point me to a discussion of that somewhere? I'm always interested in cases that have some non-legal, as well as legal, significance.

Baby Jinx

I don't know of any places where that particular issue has been discussed at length. Perhaps someone else can make suggestions.

What I know about it is that, when F.W. Murnau came out with "Nosferatu" in 1922(?), he changed a lot of a specifics (e.g., Dracula became Orlock, London became Bremen, Germany, among others), but the storyline was so obviously taken from _Dracula_ that Stoker's widow sued and won. All copies of "Nosferatu" were ordered destroyed which, fortunately for us, was not totally obeyed or "Nosferatu" would have passed into oblivion the way "London After Midnight" has disappeared from the face of the earth.

As to the particulars about Mrs Stoker's suit (i.e., on what grounds did she sue), I confess ignorance. There again, perhaps someone else might have more information.

Bryan

Being the holder of Bram's estate, widow Stoker was able to sue quite legally. David Skaal has a good account of this in his Hollywood Gothic.

Moral rights in copyright at a European continental creation. America has (so far) not incorporated that notion into law. A good thing, I aver.
Full disclosure: I've been studying copyright for a few years, probably as punishment for sins from a previous life. A few articles for the morbidly curious:
http://www.nitle.org/newsletter/v2_n1_winter2003/features_ip.php
http://www.mindjack.com/feature/dmca.html
http://www.mindjack.com/feature/lessig.html

Leslie, my argument for rearranging the novel's contents (but not adding to them, nor subtracting) is as an experiment in reading by paying attention to the text's claims on materiality. That is, the novel is very concerned with convincing us of its reality. To this extent it builds an elaborate documentary edifice, and positions that archive in time, much like a court transcript or lawyer's narrative to a jury. I wanted to explore that approach closely, and to use the unusual format of the blog to do so.

The novel's text is in fact within the public domain (cheers to Elena for noting the free culture movement). I'm publishing an edition of the book this winter in print form (more about this later on).

Bryan

Ben, I'd love to see your version of the novel!

Leslie Katz

Bryan,

I had just found reference to Skal's book, which seemed, from those references, to be a likely source of information about the litigation. Your mention of it confirms that it is such a source. I'll have a look at it, just for the sake of curiosity.

I did also see, while looking for a likely source of information about the litigation, a reference to Dracula's having entered the public domain in 1962. I suppose that would have been the author's life plus fifty years, which, I believe, was then the term. From something else I read, it may be that that copyright was held by an American film studio at the time it expired. Maybe Skal will have information about that too.

Finally, thank you for your explanation for re-ordering the book's content, which you may given before, although I hadn't seen it.

Baby Jinx

Along this same vein of discussion (re: moral rights in using something previously held by someone else), there is the uproar that it caused among Romanians when the fictional Count Dracula's name was indisputably tied to Vlad Dracula. Many Romanians felt it was an insult to associate the vampire count with their national hero. How do you think Romanians would feel were the issue of "moral rights" and literary "insult" opened in this regard?

Ben

Bryan, it's on my blog. Click on the link that says, The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire in the sidebar. The links under it go to places mentioned in my manuscript. I'm currently searching for a publisher (need to get it into one that asked to see it).

Elizabeth Miller

Re "Nosferatu" and the question of rights. Even though Murnau changed names and settings, he did not disguise that his film was based on _Dracula_. This was acknowledged clearly in the credits. The basis of Florence Stoker's suit was that Murnau had not asked her permission.

I concur that David Skal's _Hollywood Gothic_ is the best source. If you are getting this book, get the revised (2004) edition.

Bryan

June is probably the novel's slowest month. As these days go by and I have nothing from Stoker to post, I'm increasingly aware of this gap.

Moon God

I have a technical question. Do you know any way to set up a livejournal counterpart for this blog, through XML syndication or some other means?

Elizabeth

Yes, June is a slow month. Makes one wonder what is happening to Harker all this time. Does the Count still fold his clothes? Does Harker pay a return visit to the "ladies"? Oh, those tantalizing gaps!

Bryan

Doesn't it add a layer of mystery otherwise hard to spot, Elizabeth? What is Drac up to? Is Jonathan alive? What's going to happen in Britain, with all of these characters in play?

Moon God, you can download this blog's posts as HTML or XML. With XML you should be able to import to LS. Are you thinking of doing this in 2006? And what would LS. offer as a platform?
Now you have me thinking of other social software tools for Dracula. Flickr for images, del.icio.us or Furl for references ...

Baby Jinx

Re: not knowing what's happening during this gap.

We could look ahead to the next entries, see what is happening at that time, then try to interpolate what might be going on during this gap. Jonathan's next entry won't be for over a week, and Seward's will be the day after Jonathan. We won't hear from Mina again until the end of July.

Or would people rather not look ahead that far?

Ben

I've got my suspicions that Jonathan didn't hate the captivity with the ladies as much as he wanted Mina to think. :)
(Oh, it was horrible, Mina! I tried, once or twice to escape. Honest!)

Elizabeth

Bryan et al:

Dracula Blogged is now one of the Top 10 sites listed by Google in a search for "Dracula".

Dracula rules! :)

Baby Jinx

That means that there must be a lot of lurkers that we're not seeing.

Hello, y'all!

Bryan

Great, Elizabeth!

701.58 hits per day, according to the excellent Typepad blogserver, Baby Jinx. And "Total number of hits: 28063".

Bryan

Looking ahead, with a slight spoiler, our next novel post is ... this Friday.

Helen

Thank you Bryan!!! I think a reasonable proportion of those hits are me dropping by several times a day and finding only Dr. Seward's Diary for June 5th. Knowing when there will next be a post is comforting. I've resisted going out and buying a new copy of the novel; mine is in a packing box somewhere and I like using the blog as a "pure" form of re-reading.

Bryan

Personally, Helen, this June gap is both fascinating and very frustrating. It's the best example so far (for me, at least) of how the blog format surfaces underappreciated aspects of the novel.

But as a blogger, I feel awful about not posting.

If you (or anyone) is curious about serial posting issues, I've been posting about digital serial narratives recently over at Infocult: http://infocult.typepad.com/infocult/2005/05/storytelling_a__1.html, http://infocult.typepad.com/infocult/2005/06/story_clues_fro.html .

Bryan

Another literature blog project is out there: Kafka's diaries! http://www.metameat.net/kafka/index.php?en

pitchperfect

re: "Now you have me thinking of other social software tools for Dracula. Flickr for images, del.icio.us or Furl for references ..."

Now why didn't Harker think to bring along his digital camera? That would have made the story more interesting!

Bryan

Today's vampire story - "Diana Semenuha, 29, believed that drinking blood could fend off a muscle-wasting condition.

She kept the children intoxicated on drugs and alcohol and bled them regularly, selling the surplus to other black magic practitioners. When that weakened them, she dumped them back on the streets and lured replacements with the promise of a place to sleep and a hot meal."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/07/03/wukr03.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/07/03/ixworld.html

Brian David Phillips, PhD, CH

This is a great idea for a blog project . . . but . . . there's always a but . . . it would be even cooler if you could use an interface that allows you to have different users post the entries (J. Harker, M. Harker, A. Van Helsing, etc.) like blogger or given typepad limitations you might have, use different categories for each "contributor" so folks can separate Seward's Diary and the like. Some photos to illustrate certain posts might also be fun (like a photo of the abbey or a map). Still, great idea to commemmorate a wonderful novel.

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