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David40

The Summer Solstice is approaching--the longest day of the year. It is presumably not D's favorite time of the year.

Elizabeth

"It is presumably not D's favorite time of the year."

True - but not for reasons assumed by most. Dracula's power during daylight hours is reduced to that of a mere mortal. Other than that, the sun has no effect on him. Except in movies, of course! :)

Baby Jinx

"Dracula's power during daylight hours is reduced to that of a mere mortal. Other than that, the sun has no effect on him."

I've always had a question about that. Stoker never made it very clear (at least, to my satisfaction) whether Dracula's reduced power during the daylight hours was because of the daylight or because he was "normal" during the day but gained superpowers at night. Subtle difference, but important to understanding the makeup of a vampire. Another question is this: If his powers are simply reduced by the fact that it's daytime not night, why does [SPOILER] he need to wear a straw hat to keep the sun off him later in the story when he is out and about visiting his houses in Purfleet?

Elizabeth

"... why does [SPOILER] he need to wear a straw hat to keep the sun off him later in the story when he is out and about visiting his houses in Purfleet?"

Does it indicate that he "needs" to wear the hat? Maybe he just wants to keep the sun from burning his bald spot! Or maybe he is making a fashion statement!
The key fact is that he is "out and about" even though the sun is shining.

An additional point. Stoker is not completely consistent about Drac's reduced powers during sunlight. In Chapter 23 (MINOR SPOILER) he leaps through a window with "diabolical quickness" - and it's mid-afternoon.

Satu

It's easy to read over this gap in the paper version; in fact, I don't think I ever noticed it before reading this blog. As has been said before, it is interesting how different the story feels when you read it in "real time".

Elizabeth

Re the June break.

In the novel, there are no entries in Jonathan's journal between 31 May and June 17. However, in the Calendar of Events (section of Stoker's Notes where he outlines the entire plot using a day-by-day calendar) there are entries for many of those days. Eventually these were moved around and consolidated.

Example: for today (June 13) the entry in the Notes was originally "Give letters to Gypsies. Count discovers them." This line is at some point crossed out and moved to May 28 (where it actually happens in the novel). Similarly the notation "note paper gone - also clothes" is first scheduled for June 14 (tomorrow) but is moved earlier to May 31. This is a very detailed but fascinating process, as we see the author trying to consolidate numerous bits and pieces to form a coherent plot.

David40

The castle Dracula is located at about 47 degrees north latitude. London is located at about 52 degrees north latitude. 52 degrees isn't quite the land of the midnight sun, but when you get past the 50th parallel the days tend to be VERY long close to the Summer Solstice. People in North America often tend to forget that in Europe very temperate climates can be found MUCH further north because of the Gulf Stream.

Dracula is able to move about, with ordinary mortal ability, during the day, but he is used to a particular routine that he has no doubt honed over centuries. Moving five degrees closer to the Arctic Circle and the land of the midnight sun might require some changes to his routine. It would certainly make sense that he wouldn't want to make this move really close to the Solstice.

Dracula is essentially ready to make his move right now--the reason, in my opinion, for all this waiting around is that he is in no hurry and might want to wait for the days to start getting a bit shorter.

Baby Jinx

"...the reason, in my opinion, for all this waiting around is that he is in no hurry and might want to wait for the days to start getting a bit shorter."

I was thinking more in the lines of his ability to get passage on a boat going from Transylvania to England. I can't imagine that to be a much traveled route with boats leaving every day or even every week. I would suspect also that Dracula wants straight-through carriage, i.e., he wouldn't want to risk having to be transferred from boat to boat. Stoker was pretty anal about using timetables and routes of actual transport, but I don't know if he actually consulted shipping tables of boats going from Varna to England. Still, I suspect that wasn't a common shipping route. A Transylvanian booking passage to England on a nonstop, nonpassenger vessel might have to wait weeks, even months, just to get on board something like that.

David40

I thought (SPOILER ALERT) that his boat was essentially a charter that was solely bringing Dracula and whatever strange cargo he might bring with him--and nothing else. Wouldn't he presumably be able to go whenever he is ready to pay?

Note also (FURTHER MINOR SPOILER ALERT) that as Mina later questions regarding the return journey, Dracula has a choice of travelling by carriage, rail, or sea. Why can't he just travel by carriage driven by himself, as he obviously drove Jonathan from Borgo up to the castle? Are customs, immigration, and octroi formalities likely to be an issue after all? Or perhaps he cannot be sure of what arrangements might be at the English Channel in advance? Going by boat he can be transferred to the boat while still close to his home and the Romani who work for him and then be on English soil before any more transfers have to be made.

I agree that he will want to have a minimum of 'transactions' involving transfers from one carrier to another. But the sea route also has the further advantage that it keeps him further south for longer.

Baby Jinx

"I thought (SPOILER ALERT) that his boat was essentially a charter that was solely bringing Dracula and whatever strange cargo he might bring with him--and nothing else. Wouldn't he presumably be able to go whenever he is ready to pay?"

The Demeter is a Russian schooner from Varna. "She is almost entirely in ballast of silver sand, with only a small amount of cargo--a number of great wooden boxes filled with mould." From the Daily Telegraph, Whitby, 9 August.

David40

(CONTINUED SPOILER ALERT) I thought Varna was then (?) part of the Russian Empire, although now part of Bulgaria. It is a major Black Sea port and, if part of the Russian empire, would have had lots of Russian schooners. The ship doesn't just happen to be going to England--it goes to England because Dracula has paid top ruble to go there. Schedules won't matter if enough money changes hands--and money is clearly no object for Dracula.

Of course, it may take time for Dracula (or his Romani people) to find a ship that he deems suitable--money aside, there may be other criteria Dracula is looking for in a ship to make the passage, and this may take time to find. But I highly doubt that published schedules have much to do with it. Dracula has made clear (for example by his absurdly long retention of Jonathan's services) that once he finds the right people to carry out his wishes, money is no object. The ship doesn't just happen to be going to England, empty except for ballast and Dracula's cargo. It does that because Dracula has ordered it and has the money to ensure his orders are carried out.

David40

(CONTINUED SPOILER ALERT) I thought Varna was then (?) part of the Russian Empire, although now part of Bulgaria. It is a major Black Sea port and, if part of the Russian empire, would have had lots of Russian schooners. The ship doesn't just happen to be going to England--it goes to England because Dracula has paid top ruble to go there. Schedules won't matter if enough money changes hands--and money is clearly no object for Dracula.

Of course, it may take time for Dracula (or his Romani people) to find a ship that he deems suitable--money aside, there may be other criteria Dracula is looking for in a ship to make the passage, and this may take time to find. But I highly doubt that published schedules have much to do with it. Dracula has made clear (for example by his absurdly long retention of Jonathan's services) that once he finds the right people to carry out his wishes, money is no object. The ship doesn't just happen to be going to England, empty except for ballast and Dracula's cargo. It does that because Dracula has ordered it and has the money to ensure his orders are carried out.

Elizabeth

A few observations (MINOR SPOILERS):

First of all, Stoker's original intention was to have the Count enter England via the Dover Custom-House. This was early in the planning, when the Count was still Count Wampyr from Styria. It would make sense to travel from landlocked Styria over land to the Channel and then across by boat.

In the summer of 1890, Stoker visited Whitby and learned about the "Dimitry", a Russian ship which had run aground a few years earlier. He changes his plan and has his Count (changed to "Dracula" as a result of the same Whitby visit) travel by sea and enter England via Whitby. By 1891, the change to Transylvania had been made. Now Transylvania is also landlocked. Varna would be the closest large port handling international trade. (In fact, I read recently that there was fairly frequent freight service between Whitby and Varna at the time.)

The Count obviously had an agent in Varna who arranged the transport of his fifty boxes. I assume when the time came to sail, Drac crawled into one of the boxes. He was a stowaway. Nobody on the ship knew he was there until ....

Baby Jinx

"...money aside, there may be other criteria Dracula is looking for in a ship to make the passage, and this may take time to find."

I'm guessing that one of D's main concerns is to limit the number of solicitors, shippers, and handlers that have to deal with his boxes. One thing we know about Dracula's plans, thanks to his discussions with Jonathan, is that he wishes to have different people involved at each step of the way. The Demeter route from Varna to England would require only two or three people knowing...the customs exit, the Demeter captain, the customs entrance into England. Think of how many people he would have to commission were he to ship 50 boxes of earth by train, winding its way through six or more European countries, with stops at each station along the way. However, let's see how he deals with his trip back to Transylvania when time is of the essence to him.

David40

Without getting any more deeply into spoilers, what do we know so far about Dracula's plans for actually getting to England? I think we can assume that Dracula is making those plans right now. I think we can also assume that the Romani are there to assist in those plans in some way.

I think in addition to the things that Baby Jinx mentioned, there are a few clues to the Count's plans. One is that when Jonathan saw the Count's letters, all the letters were addressed either to people in England or Eastern Europe. There was nothing to continental locations along the way to suggest that palms have been greased along the way. Indeed, one of the letters was to someone in Varna, which clearly implies travel by sea.

Additionally, the Romani--although there may be Romani people everywhere--tend to be most concentrated in Eastern Europe, so Dracula's hiring of the Romani suggests that he needs land assistance in Eastern Europe, but not elsewhere on the continent. This would imply a short land trek to Varna and then a voyage by sea thereafter.

Additionally, the letters (including the one to Varna) seemed to surface at the same time as Dracula was making inquiries of Jonathan about how the process of hiring a solicitor in England worked. This was on May 12.

Another factor is that I think we can assume that if the status quo changes, Stoker will tell us. Hence the long pause implies the status quo has not changed, and hence the Romani are still at the castle. This means they are probably arranging the transport of a fairly large amount of cargo, which might be easiest to transport by boat.

All this suggests that Dracula plans to travel by sea, but didn't begin working on the details of his trip until May 12. Given the time taken to make plans, it is probably quite plausible those plans are still ongoing.

Marty Busse

David40-

Varna wasn't part of the Russian Empire at the time. It was captured by a Russian army during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, but it was recaptured by the Ottoman Empire. It was part of the autonomous Bulgarian principality created by the Treaty of Berlin and then the post-1885 unified Bulgaria.

Bulgaria did have close commercial, cultural and political ties with Russia, and the Russians did force out the Bulgarian Tsar in 1886, but at the time the novel is taking place, Bulgaria and Russia are getting along well. Hence the presence of a Russian schooner in Varna.

Marty Busse

Bryan-that map portion I sent you might be a good thing to post during this lull in the story.

Elizabeth

Re Varna - there is a Stoker connection.

During the 1870s Bram's younger brother George (a doctor) served with the Red Crescent and was stationed for much of the time in Bulgaria. In his book "With the Unspeakables, or Two Years Campaigning in European and Asiatic Turkey" (1878), he briefly mentions Varna. Bram might have recalled that (note I say "might.")

Some Stoker scholars have gone to wing with the George Stoker connection. For example, Barbara Belford claims that George's book furnished much background for the opening chapters of "Dracula." Hogwash! Haining and Tremayne are even worse, claiming that while George was in Bulgaria, he heard the stories about Vlad the Imnpaler; on returning home he told them to Bram. This, they state (as fact) is why Stoker was inspired to use Vlad as his model for the Count. Double hogwash!

By the way, George Stoker's grandson (who lives in Montreal) is a very good friend of mine. He (the grandson) has a grandson named Bram (Stoker). I sat next to him at a performance of "Dracula" at the Stratford Festival a few years ago. How many people can say that they watched a performance of "Dracula" sitting next to Bram Stoker? Cool!

Elizabeth

Re Russian connection:

If you are interested in this whole matter (Stoker, Russia, Bulgaria), a new book has just been published that you might want to read. It's entitled "Bram Stoker and Russophobia" and it's by Jimmie Cain (who teaches at Middle Tennessee State University). Publisher is McFarland.

David40

Are you sure you haven't missed a 'great' or two in there? If George Stoker was a functioning adult in the 1870's, surely even his grandson would be a centenarian by now?

I wonder, though, if the possible mention of Varna and certainly the fact of having a brother in Eastern Europe caused the elder Bram to focus to a certain degree on Eastern Europe? It doesn't mean he picked up any particular information of significance from George. But it could have caused him to become curious about Eastern Europe and, through a chain of inquiry unconnected to George except at the initial like, eventually create the Count.

I'm interested in the new book and may check it out. Russia plays a background role at several points in the novel and I've always wondered what that was about. It is especially curious if Varna was not part of the Russian empire at the time.

Elizabeth

"Are you sure you haven't missed a 'great' or two in there?"

Nope. Patrick Stoker, who is now around 80, is the grandson of George.

I agree that George's adventures could have piqued Bram's curiosity and sent him reading books about Eastern Europe. This, of course, is speculation and should not be used as the premise for outrageous "conclusions."

Elizabeth

Further re George Stoker and grandson:

I just checked the Stoker geneaology. George was born in 1854. His son Tom was born in 1884. The grandson (Patrick) was born in 1920 - when his grandfather was 66. That is not really an unusual span. In my own family - I have a niece who is 5. Her grandfather (were he still living) would be 93.

David40

Yes, I guess that is true re it not being that unusual a span. Based on your description I had imagined a somewhat earlier birthdate for George. Becoming a doctor, spending time abroad practising medicine, and then writing a book about all of the above sounds like a lot to accomplish by age 24. But I think people did graduate medical school at an earlier age back then so perhaps not quite as remarkable as it might first appear.

Elizabeth

"But I think people did graduate medical school at an earlier age back then..."

Indeed. Just think of John Polidori, author of "The Vampyre." He was 19 when he obtained his MD from Edinburgh University.

Re George, his work with the Red Crescent was his first medical practice. He spent under 2 years in the Balkan region and wrote the book immediately (and apparently quickly) on his return to London in 1878.

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