Oh sweeties, I can't tell you how happy I am right now. I am on vacation! This is my first post-grad school vacation, i.e., the first trip I've taken in about a hunnert years during which I haven't spent any time feeling guilty about the grad schoolish work I should be doing.
Let me tell you about my glorious Sunday. I slept in. I ate a lot. I went for a long walk around my native city of sunny, tropical Halifax, NS (the city that never sleeps except at night, and sometimes for naps as well). I sat in a cafe and read Dracula. I walked more. I came back to my mom's place and then I did something I haven't done in about 10 years: I laid in bed - FOR HOURS - reading. It was so amazing to be relaxed enough to do that; and not being sufficiently relaxed is the only reason why I haven't done this is an age and a half.
I finished Dracula yesterday during my relaxed, layabout reading love-fest and it certainly added to the dreaminess of this whole vacation experience. When I began this novel, I assumed I couldn't possibly be surprised by anything Stoker could throw at me but I was constantly surprised and generally incredibly pleased (and often jumpy). It was a damned good read and there were some incredibly interesting things going on with gender (female agency in particular) that I am currently too happy and glutted to either contemplate or discuss.
But two things did stand in the way of this being a 5/5 book for me (were I given to rating books, which I'm not). The first was how inconsistent Stoker was about representing Van Helsing's English (as a second language) skills; sometimes Van Helsing's grammar was perfect and sometimes it was laughably poor. I feel as though Stoker's editor should have bonked him on the head a little. But this was pretty minor.
Spoiler Alert! Less minor was the major plot hole surrounding Mina's victimization at Dracula's hands (er, teeth. Sharp, pointy teeth). As the reader, I had the exact same information as Van Helsing, Harker, Seward, Goldaming, and Morris had - the narrative structure was such that there was no room anywhere for an omniscient narrator that could provide me with info the characters lacked.
The erstwhile vampire slayers all knew that Dracula was able to get into spaces that happened to house vulnerable female characters, as Lucy was already dead and they'd pooled their info when they congregated at Seward's asylum. AND YET, they all insisted on sending Mina off to bed every night unguarded while they went sniffing after Dracula's trail! And then were surprised and CLUELESS when she started to look pale and behave lethargically in EXACTLY the same way Lucy did when Dracula was victimizing her.
I have to say, this mis-step drove me a little crazy. Given how clever and thoughtful these characters were, this blindness was just too unbelievable - less believable even than the possibility of blood-sucking vampires. I'm sure Stoker could have found another way to make Mina into a victim - required for the tense climax of the novel! - in some way more suited to not making the genius Van Helsing and his semi-genius helpers look like complete and utter dolts.
Still, a good read which is helping to sustain my return to the Victorians love-in. But next, I have some decidedly 20th-century lit to wrangle with.