It is May 3rd and young Jonathan Harker is taking a train east to meet his firm’s new client, one count Dracula. You may follow the rest of the story by subscribing to new posts, or dive into the novel’s archives, or leave a comment, or all three. Welcome to the Draculablog.
Let me explain.
Way back in 2005 I was preparing a scholarly edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula for publication. The publisher went out of business, so it didn’t happen (yet), but I started thinking about a digital edition.
One night my wife and I were talking about some new digital projects we had encountered. I described the Pepys blog, which posted 17th-century diary entries on the same calendar day. (Here’s the May 3 2017 post) . Then it hit us. Why now do the same with Dracula?
If you haven’t read this very strange and enormously entertaining novel as an adult, know that it is essentially a scrapbook. After a brief explanatory note, the whole text that follows is a stack of documents (diary entires, letters, audio recordings, newspaper clippings, even a receipt), each of which is time-stamped by day and month. Why not follow Pepys and blog the novel “live”, as it were?
And so I did. In May 2005 I fired up a new blog (on Typepad! those were the days), and manually copied and pasted each entry from my prepared copy of the novel. It took some work, but not too much, as I knew the text intimately by this time.
The results were fascinating. Readers started commenting. Some were first-timers to the novel, and asked the questions one does – will Mina welcome back Jonathan? how to defeat Dracula? Some were Dracula experts, like Elizabeth Miller and Leslie Klinger, who weighed in that year and in later years based on their long work with the text. Other sources picked up the blog, like BoingBoing (“This genius blogger is posting the Jonathan Harker journal entries from Stoker’s Dracula as a series of dated blog posts”) and the Guardian.
Bloodthirsty material of a different kind comes in the shape of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which has recently been released in the form of a blog. Over the next six months, bite-sized sections of the novel will be serialised in accordance with the dates of the original diary entries from the novel’s protagonist, Jonathan Harker. It is nice way to get your teeth into a classic novel, especially if you haven’t read it. Dracula is not the first classic text to be serialised in this way. The diary of Samuel Pepys continues to publish a new entry of the renowned diarist every day of the year.
I was and remain fascinated by how people read the novel through this blog lens. The format draws attention to time, so temporal gaps become much more powerful, as when Jonathan Harker remains silent. In contrast, multiple entries on the same date ramp up a sense of activity and urgency.
Since then I’ve run the blog about every two years out of three. I added non-novel content, including posts about the book’s context, other books and writings about Dracula, and related stories of Dracula in movies, music, and other media.
Then the Draculablog has been joined by Andrew Connell of Dickinson College. Andrew’s a genius educational technologist with a keen Gothic eye. He generously volunteered his time to make maps for key travel scenes (Dracula’s trip to Britain; the heroes pursuing him back to the Balkans). Here, for example, is Jonathan Harker’s route from the novel’s beginning:
Then Andrew built an automated service to pump out entries on schedule without my having to do them by hand, a Draculabloggingengine. This saves me serious amounts of time. And so the blog keeps running along every year.
So much has changed in the digital world since 2005. Twitter has taken off, for example, and there are all kinds of Dracula accounts and discussions there. The Pepys blog has a presence on Twitter, too:
There’s something retro in maintaining an old school blog in 2017, but the format simply works. Should we shift into Twitter? Is it time for a Dracula podcast? Does VR call for a Stoker experience?
But today is May 4th, 2017. In the novel, May 4th is when Harker gets to read a letter from the mysterious count. When he asks the locals about this, they get nervous:
When I asked him if he knew Count Dracula, and could tell me anything of his castle, both he and his wife crossed themselves, and, saying that they knew nothing at all, simply refused to speak further.
Jonathan doesn’t get the clue, unfortunately. What else is happening? Read for yourself and find out.