Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rereaing Dracula--Some meandering about the Victorian Novel

The Readers Imbibing Peril challenge finally made me move from vaguely wanting to reread Dracula to actually doing so.  I've only just started, so I've no business writing, really, but the beginning made me realize all over again how much I love Victorian novels.  Novels generally, yes, but there's something special about the Victorians. Right now, Jonathan Harker has just begun his journey to Dracula's castle. He's busy writing in his journal describing the clothes everyone is wearing, the food at the inn, the strange scenery outside the windows. He's even got a polyglot dictionary so he can check what people are saying and in what languages.

Sometimes, I know, people find the detail excessive, sometimes I find the detail excessive, but all the same, I love the Victorians and the great care they take in world building. There's Dickens trying to shove all of London into Bleak House and then, having worked at that, moving out into the English countryside and trying to cram that in as well. There's George Eliot stuffing an entire village into Middlemarch, overwhelming the  reader with the richness of detail, Elizabeth Gaskell lingering lovingly over tiny details of life in Cranford or overseeing the housekeeping in  Mary Barton.  And, yes, Bram Stoker making sure we know exactly how his monster managed travel arrangements. 

I have some more Gothic literature lined up for the RIP challenge, including some 18th century stuff (Those novelists really love their detail!), but I think after this I may have to go on a Victorian rampage.

And this blog entry was going to go somewhere very intelligent (maybe), but it's late, and I'll just stop here and say "Hurray for the Victorians!" and get some sleep.

Never fear, there shall be a more orderly review of Dracula later.

Incidentally, I'm hopscotching between the 1997 Norton Critical Edition (I love the footnotes) and Librivox, version2 (Different readers for the different parts). If anyone has comments or recommendations on versions, I'm interested.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed! I love Victorians in the face. Yes, I have to be in the mood for some rambling, but when I am in the mood, I want to give them all a hug for being so detailed and dramatic and giving us such awesome gothic novels. :)