Monday, February 13, 2017

Powers of Darkness and the Dracula Myth

I do not consider myself a Dracula scholar. I have a number of rare Dracula related texts, read many more and pretty much seen every movie or stage play featuring the eponymous vampire count. My last (as in last ever) acting performance was as, appropriately enough, Dr. Seward in the Hamilton Deane play.  I try to reread the book every three or fours years or so.
I also once had a great conversation with a former Black Panther turned Educational reformist oh how horror in general, and Dracula in particular, was great insight on what people's fears are at the time.  We discussed how things he was doing and feeling as a young revolutionary in the 60s was being written about in the fiction of the time.  Great stuff.  Wish I had taken better notes.

So is it safe to say I am a fan who knows what scholarship is out there and I have read some of it.

So imagine my joy when I discover that there was/is another translation of Dracula out there.  One that was created nearly around the same time as the original, but with enough distance to be something new and old at the same time.

Over at Literary Hub they discussed the Icelandic translation of Dracula known as Makt Myrkranna, or the Powers of Darkness.

The book originally includes a forward by Bram Stoker, but it takes a number of interesting turns from Stoker's text.  The author, Valdimar Ásmundsson, includes mentions of the Ripper muders and a tantalizing preface that eludes that all the events in this book are true.
To the best of my belief, there is no doubt whatsoever that the events related here really took place, however unbelievable and incomprehensible they may appear in light of common experience.

[. . .]

I emphasize again that the mysterious tragedy described here is completely true as far as the events as such are concerned, although in certain points, of course, I have reached a different conclusion than the people involved. But the events as such are irrefutable, and so many people are aware of them that they will not be denied.
This is a long-held conceit in many post-Stoker works on Dracula.  We can't say it started here, it started with Stoker's novel itself, but there is something very seductive about this.

Scholars have long been under the belief that the Ásmundsson translation was merely a translation and an abridgment of Stoker's novel.  

Hans de Roos, the author of both the LitHub article and new re-translation, gives us some interesting insights to this lost translation, which ends up being more than expected.  There are the expected name changes; Johnathon is now Thomas, Mina is Wilma and Lucy is Lucia, but there is more to it that just that.

Mina/Wilma now accompanies Harker to Transylvania. Renfield is gone. And Dracula himself plays a much larger role.  That is one of the biggest things people who have not read Dracula don't know; how little Dracula is actually in the book.  It also seems that there are more sections that seem to be drawn from Stoker's own notes and incomplete manuscripts.  

Flipping through this book that is at the same time familiar and new*.
*Side Note:  I call situations like this a "Modula 2" moment. Back in college, I was a pretty proficient Pascal programmer. I later picked up other languages like C, C++ and Modula 2.  Modula 2 is so like and yet unlike Pascal it is like learning the same thing over again from an entirely new perspective.  If I ever mention Modula 2 here, this is what I mean. 

While I can't wait to jump feet first into this tale, it has gotten me more excited for my modern supernatural/supers game with Dracula as my big bad.

I am not anywhere close to getting this adventure together; either what the characters will do or what Dracula wants to do. I don't even have a system picked yet.

Maybe after this book, I'll have all that figured out.

Dracula-based Products I have Reviewed in the Past


And some I need to review



2 comments:

grodog said...

I've heard good things about the new text from the translation, but you're the first to talk about it in more detail. Thanks! .....allan

chatty said...

when you decide what Drac wants to do, let me know!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...