Bram Stoker's Dracula (as distinct from Bram Stoker's Dracula) begins with a canny bit of Orientalism. The English solicitor Jonathan Harker is travelling to the Carpathians to meet his client Count Dracula. 'The impression I had,' Harker says of crossing the Danube at Budapest, 'was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most Western of splendid bridges ... took us among the traditions of Turkish rule.' We know all about those traditions. This is the realm of the incalculable, bloodthirsty Other; the Other of our dreams, of course, the figure we compose out of everything we can't or wont know about ourselves. But then Dracula is a dream, multiple, self-contradicting, hovering. He doesn't show up in mirrors because he is himself a mirror, ready to reflect a whole hodgepodge of fears and desires. He drinks blood, preys on women; converts men to insect-eaters; he is the undead, a travesty of the resurrection; he is what waits at the end of Eastern journeys and he also comes West, buying up London, bringing boxes of earth from his native land; associated with bats and wolves and the night, he carries the imagery of rabies and syphilis into the age of Aids.
LRB 25 February 1993 | PDF Download