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Elizabeth

I will translate one more Swales passage. For the other paragraphs, I will merely list unfamiliar words to help to read them yourself.


“It be all fool-talk, lock, stock and barrel, and that’s what it be and nothing else. These curses an’ ghosts and terrifying apparitions and all near them are only fit to set children and dizzy women a-blubberin’. They be nothing but air-bubbles. They, an’ all grims and signs an’ warnin’s, be all invented by parsons and illsome learned persons an’ railway touters to scare and frighten half-wits, an’ to get folks to do somethin’ that they don’t otherwise incline to. Why, it’s them that, not content with printin’ lies on paper an’ preachin’ them out of pulpits, does want to be cuttin’ them on the tombstones. Look here all around you wherever you will. All them stones, holdin’ up their heads as well as they can out of their pride, are leaning on one side, simply tumblin’ down with the weight of the lies wrote on them … My God, but it’ll be a strange confusion at the Day of Judgment when they come tumblin’ up in their death-shirts, all jumbled and tryin’ to drag their tombstones with them to prove how good they was, some of them tremblin’ an’ ditherin’ with their hands that shriveled an’ slippery from lyin’ in the sea that they can’t even keep their grip o’them.

“Yabblins! There may be a poorish…”
yabblins: possibly
balm-bowl: chamber-pot
kirkgarth: churchyard
consate: imagine
steans: stones
aboon: above
haped: buried
snod an’ snog: safe and sound
laybeds: graves
toom: empty
aftest: hindmost
abaft: behind
bierbank: churchyard

“Who brought him home…”
consated: imagined
antherums: doubts
aboot: about

“Ye don’t see aught funny…”
gawm: understand
acrew’d: twisted
limiter: deformed person, cripple
clegs: horseflies
dowps: crows
masel: myself
addle: live
keckle: chuckle
grees: stairs, steps

“That won’t harm ye…”
fash: trouble
gang: go

Bryan Alexander

I'm fond of "air-blebs", myself.

This sequence is very strange, and rarely gets the attention it deserves - after all, the death ship approaching is much easier to understand, and more visually stunning.

Several plot strands are quietly kept in sight: Lucy's wedding, Mina's fears for Jonathan (exacerbated by the silence we've heard from him).

But the Swales material... the novel often tries to hit regional difference by dialogue, as we've seen with Transylvania, and some writing from our Texan hero, and will see with van Helsing's bizarre speech.

There's also a brooding about death in this passage, a sense that what we (Victorians) think of as a gorgeous, emotionally sanctioned, social-order-maintaining process is actually a lie, a scrim upon a deeper order. The language of death is undone by Swales, seeing the rituals as lies and unreality. Social order is unstuck, with suicides and eschatological revenge splitting a Victorian family.

Not to mention the death-six - "it may make poor Geordie gladsome to have so trim a lass sittin' on his lap. "

Wes Stitt

This has always been my favorite part of "Dracula," and I've very seldom seen it make the cut of any filmed adaptation (the recent BBC production being a notable, if not very good, exception). The whole Whitby sequence usually gets pretty short shrift, which is a shame, because it is wonderfully moody, taking its time to develop the interior lives of Mina and John Seward, the only two characters we are offered much from in the way of introspection.
I've never seen the last paragraph reproduced anywhere outside the original novel, which seems really bizarre to me, because it's so good. Mina, unable to share her fear and sadness with her closest friend because that friend is so happy, writes alone in her diary instead. Here we witness the one of the novel's main themes in action - the individual's struggle to sublimate unease and inner turmoil through self-discipline and industry. Mina, who believes that she can learn to remember everything she sees and hears in a day if she trains herself to write it all down, catalogs the minutia of a lonely holiday sunset in an effort to hold back the flood of terror that Jonathan's prolonged silence threatens, but it doesn't work forever. It's a lovely little meditation on life and death and love, and it feels fresh and immediate to me every time I read it. The line about hearing two bands, neither of whom can hear the other, is wonderfully quirky and heartbreaking, and, in my humble opinion, Bram Stoker's single best sentence.

Bryan Alexander

Well said, Wes. The poignancy of the last bit sets up the next few scenes very nicely.

Elizabeth

That IS a wonderful sentence. Equally amazing is that the essence is there from his earliest notes (Summer 1890) at Whitby, as follows:

"Whitby cliff 9 p.m.

"Lights scattered town & West Cliff & up river Esk – black line of roof on left – near Abbey House – sheep & lambs bleating – clatter of donkeys’ hoofs up paved road: Band in pier loud waltz. Salvation Army in street. Off Quay neither hearing each other we hearing both."

By the way, the facsimile edition of Stoker's Notes is scheduled for publication in February 2008.

Bryan Alexander

Can't wait, Elizabeth!

agentzelda

Oh that's very good news! Any place we can preorder?

Elizabeth

No news yet on preordering. The book is to be published by McFarland. As soon as things are definite, I'll be posting the details.

Milu

Hi, I'm trying to understand the meaning of some words used by the author B.Stoker on the book Dracula... in the end of Chapter 6
"krok-hooal"; "caffin";"chafts"; "dooal" and "hoast beyont".
Anyone could help me? Thanks, Milu

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