AWARDS, REVIEWS & COMMENTS

 

 

Bram Stokerís Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition

Transcribed and annotated by Robert Eighteen-Bisang & Elizabeth Miller

Jefferson NC and London: McFarland, 2008 http://www.mcfarlandpub.com

342 pages; library binding

ISBN: 978-0-7864-3410-7

 

 

 

Awards

 

 

#1 in ďMy Top Ten Books of 2008Ē

Famous Monsters of Filmland

http://famousmonstersoffilmland.com/2008/12/26/my-top-ten-books-of-2008/

 

Lord Ruthven Award for 2008

(International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts)

 

 

 

Reviews

 

 

Posted below are published reviews by the following:

 

Andersson, C. Dean

John Edgar Browning

Carter, Margaret L.

Devereaux, Robert

Eldridge, Robert

Emerson, Joel

Golz, Peter

Lupoff, Richard

Nenonen, Michael

Petersen, Niels S.

Schwotzer, Peter

Stoker, Dacre

Wilson, David Niall

 

 

 

C. Dean Andersson, writer (Texas, USA)

amazon.com (Oct 13, 2008)

 

***** Inspiring!

 

Reading through this book brought back to me the wonder and feelings of mysterious otherness that I felt the first time I read Stoker's novel as a child. It is so fascinating to see his creative processes at work, the way the novel developed from his first notes, etc. There is a familiarity to the process, of course. Any writer should recognize similar processes in their own work as it develops from an idea to a finished book. The authors have done a wonderful and invaluable service to scholars and fans of Dracula! Like Stoker's novel itself, this is a book to read more than once. I read Stoker's novel again when I finished this book, and then reread the notes again. Best of all, for me, it has inspired me to work further on my own creations involving Dracula, begun in the novel, Crimson Kisses, published in 1982, and revisited in I Am Dracula in 1993. So, thank you, Robert and Elizabeth, for this stupendous achievement! Anyone who has ever been touched by the mystery of Dracula's power will read and treasure this book, throughout the nights of time!

 

 

 

John Edgar Browning

Studies in the fantastic 2 (Winter-Spring 2009)

 

See http://lsu.academia.edu/documents/0028/5560/Notes__review_III.pdf

 

 

 

Margaret L. Carter, author of The Vampire in Literature

News from the Crypt, No. 37 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/margaretlcartersnewsfromthecrypt

 

Bram Stokerís Notes for Dracula is edited by Elizabeth Miller and Robert Eighteen-Bisang. Thanks to these two distinguished Canadian scholars, Bram Stoker's outline and notes for Dracula are at last made available to the public. This book comprises a facsimile reproduction of the handwritten and typed notes, page by page, with a transcription on each opposite page. The volume includes very detailed footnotes showing how the outline developed into the finished novel and how Dracula as published differs from Stoker's original conception. There are also an extensive bibliography and a detailed index. Appendices include a biographical sketch of Stoker's life, the 1888 Encyclopedia Britannica "Vampire" entry, major fictional works that might have influenced Dracula, a list of relevant books owned by Stoker, a summary of incidents in the novel with features mentioned in the Notes highlighted, and a chronology of the potential novel (as outlined in the Notes) that the author ultimately did not write.

 

The publication of this volume should lay to rest once and for all the notion of Stoker as a "hack" who carelessly dashed off the book that ensured his fame. Not only did he spend almost seven years plotting and writing the book, he meticulously outlined and painstakingly researched every element that went into it. The Notes also confirm that Count Dracula was not literally "based" on Vlad the Impaler, since the main structure of the story was in place before Stoker replaced the vampire's original name, "Count Wampyr," with "Dracula." For writers in particular, this book offers a fascinating in-depth view of the construction of a classic work of fiction. The revision process eliminated, combined, and renamed numerous characters and deleted or rearranged large chunks of plot to arrive at Dracula as we have it. The principle of an author's finding the right place to start is admirably demonstrated, as the originally conceived novel began several chapters before its present opening with Jonathan Harker's transition "from the West into the East."

 

All Dracula specialists, of course, must have this book. Vampire enthusiasts in general will want to read it if at all possible. If you're a student or faculty member at a college or university, urge your institution's library to purchase this major contribution to DRACULA scholarship.

 

 

 

 

Robert Devereaux, author of Deadweight (Colorado, USA)

amazon.com (Sept 9, 2008)

 

***** Magnificent, an obvious labor of love...

 

Robert Eighteen-Bisang has spent an extraordinary life devoted to vampire lore and especially to Dracula.Now, he and Elizabeth Miller, in a beautifully produced volume, annotate and transcribe Bram Stoker's notes for Dracula. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in this seminal work of fiction and in how novels are put together.

Bravo!

 

 

 

Robert Eldridge

Website of L. W. Currey

http://www.lwcurrey.com

 

The authors were given access, at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, to the notes kept by Stoker in preparation for writing DRACULA: thoughts about his characters, research on vampires, werewolves, and other subjects touched on in the novel, lists of dialect vocabulary used in Whitby, Yorkshire (where Dracula's ship was beached) and a calendar of events in the story. Miller and Eighteen-Bisang have made transcriptions as well as facsimile reproductions of all these materials; and have added essays, appendices and bibliographical notes that help guide the reader through this primary source material, which is by no means always self-explanatory. Stoker's notes are not dated, and they refer to certain parts of the completed novel but not to others, thus leaving many questions unanswered. But they do lead to one inescapable and interesting conclusion: Stoker did not dash DRACULA off as some sort of pulp entertainment, shooting from the hip as legions of later authors of vampire fiction would do. There was some tradition for the vampire tale in the 1890s, but not much: there was by no means the literary compost pit that this genre has had access to (since the 1930s). Stoker worked on the book for at least six years and, while he did not always work methodically, he did work hard and conscientiously. While the resulting novel was received enthusiastically in the market place, its critical reception has not generally mirrored the seriousness of its inception. All that has been changing in the late-twentieth century with the gradual elevation of popular culture over high culture, and this present work of scholarship, issued by a scholarly publisher, marks a fitting stage in that trend. DRACULA is one of the three horror novels of the nineteenth century (along with FRANKENSTEIN and DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE) to since achieve mythic status.

 

Interestingly, all three texts were characterized by mysterious births. The debate over the respective contributions of Percy and Mary Shelley to the writing of FRANKENSTEIN is still a lively one (invigorated with the recent publication of a new edition of FRANKENSTEIN designed to strip away Percy's edits). Stevenson wrote DR. JEKYLL in a white heat after a nightmare, but then destroyed the first draft after reading it to his wife and hearing her say that it was too horrible. Now we have evidence that DRACULA was written in stages, not all of which are by any means clear. The gap in quality between DRACULA and his other works, while by no means as large as the gap between FRANKENSTEIN and Mary Shelley's other work, remains significant and not entirely explained.

 

 

 

 

Joel H. Emerson, author of The Un-Dead: The DRACULA novel, rewritten to include stokerís characters and events

amazon.com (Sept 7, 2008)

 

***** A "must-read" for Dracula fans!

 

In our modern era of DVD and Blu-ray movies, we are often treated to a special features section after the film, in which one can find interviews where the director describes his thought process and journey of creation, as well as various alternate and deleted scenes. What a DVD's special features section does for a great movie, "Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula" does for Stoker's literary masterpiece. During the many years it took for Bram Stoker to write "Dracula," the author accumulated over a hundred pages of notes. In those pages can be found early character concepts and plot threads, many of which never made it into the published novel. Until recently, one had to travel to the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia to see those notes, and then had to attempt to decipher Stoker's notoriously sloppy handwriting. But now, thanks to the efforts of Elizabeth Miller and Robert Eighteen-Bisang, anyone can read through a printed (and thus legible!) transcript of the Notes, as well as gain further insight into Stoker's journey of creation through the transcribers' annotations and commentaries. Being an author myself, and having personally studied Stoker's original notes at the Rosenbach, I can say from experience that anyone who wishes to enjoy "Dracula" beyond a superficial level should seriously consider picking up a copy of "Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula."

 

 

 

 

Peter Golz (ďVampirologist, Victoria BC, Canada)

amazon.ca (Oct 20, 2008)

 

***** A Must for Scholars and Fans

 

Robert Eighteen-Bisang and Elizabeth Miller have accomplished the almost impossible - to present a new milestone in Stoker scholarship which will be indispensible reading for anybody seriously interested in the world's most important horror novel. The beautifully presented volume was obviously a labour of love.

First, we are presented with facsimile reproductions of Bram Stoker's original notes which, until now, were only available at the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia. The handwritten notes have been meticulously transcribed, no small feat if you take a look at Stoker's original handwriting. Stoker's typed research notes are also included.

But what makes this book a must for Dracula fans and scholars are the extensive, insightful annotations. They present many new insights and settle a number of long debates surrounding the novel, and make for a fascinating read. To complement the notes and annotations, there are also various appendices, ranging from the construction of the novel, the mysterious "Dracula's Guest", the novel's characters, an 1888 Encyclopedia Britannica entry on the term 'vampire', to literary influences, and more. A wonderfully stimulating read, fascinating, enlightening, and of course, always frightening.

 

 

 

 

Richard Lupoff

SF Site

http://www.sfsite.com/12b/dn286.htm

 

Talk about expectation versus experience! I will confess that I thought this book was going to be a total snoozer. A facsimile of a hundred or so pages of dubiously legible notes by a long-dead author, for a novel that he wrote well over a century ago. The author was Abraham "Bram" Stoker (1847Ė1912) and the novel was Dracula (1897).

Was I ever wrong!

First of all, I've tried to decipher Stoker's handwriting on the facsimile pages of this book, and it is indeed a daunting chore. Fortunately, the editors have painstakingly worked over the manuscript pages and provided a clear transcript, including alternate interpretations of those words upon which scholars disagree. Beyond this, they furnish an exegesis of every one of Stoker's notes. Here is a typical example:

Stoker:
Kate Reed to Lucy Westenra telling of Harker's visit to the school to see Mina Murray & of Mina's confidence & her story -- with postscript telling how she thought after writing it would be well to ask Mina's permission before telling her story -- she knows it all over long ago & that she goes to stay with her on summer holiday at Whitby

Eighteen-Bisang and Miller:
Kate Reed is probably the unnamed messenger Lucy alludes to when she says, "Someone has evidently been telling tales (5:56). McNally and Florescu believe that "Mrs. Westenra seems to have taken [Kate Reed's] place... in the novel (26). Frayling renders "over" as "dead." However, either wording supports his conclusion that Kate Reed had "some 'story' which is of interest to Mina" and the fact "that 'it is all dead long ago' " allows them "to remain friends." He then wonders, "Could it possibly have been a romance with Jonathan?"

As you can see, there is an ongoing "conversation" among such Stoker/Dracula scholars as Raymond McNally, Radu Florescu, Christopher Frayling, and the current commentators. It is fascinating to observe their discussions at the same time that one follows the development of Dracula in Bram Stoker's mind and in his notes. There is not a single, coherent Stoker notebook, however. The author was a busy man with a "day job" as manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, as well as having a home and family life. He made notes on any scrap of paper that was handy, including the backs of Lyceum Theatre letterhead. He went back over his notes repeatedly, changing references, crossing out lines and adding others.

 

The location of Count Dracula's home was apparently Germany in Stoker's earliest version of his plan. He moved the infamous castle to Styria, a province of Hungary, and thence to Transylvania, providing that otherwise little known region with worldwide fame. The great anti-hero himself was originally described only as a dead old man, brought back to life. Then as Count (blank), then Wampyr, and finally Dracula.

 

Characters and scenes appear and transform and disappear from the book as it continues to evolve. There are werewolves in the story, then there are no werewolves. There is a fabulous dinner party for thirteen bizarre storytellers including Dracula himself. The incident mimics the Biblical Last Supper, with Dracula playing the role of the Anti-Christ. The scene does not appear in the novel, although it was restored in at least one filmed version, long after Stoker's death. Was it ever drafted and discarded, or did Stoker decide to omit it before he wrote the book?

 

On and on the tale evolves, with Stoker's handwritten notes and later his typewritten pages carrying us ever closer to the completion of what has to be recognized as the greatest horror novel ever written. Stoker was a fairly prolific author. He published a dozen novels, most of them of a fantastic nature, as well as dozens of short stories and several works of nonfiction. But of course Dracula was his masterpiece. It is immortal.

 

The editors of the present volume found the treasure of Stoker's notes in the suggestively named Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia. From there they traced the odyssey of the notes back to their sale by Stoker's widow, Florence, in 1913, for two pounds two shillings. Roughly twelve dollars. Today, they are priceless.

 

This excellent book also contains period photographs (including one of the Lyceum Theatre) and documents, essays and appendices that make endless fascinating reading. The book is a treasure and a joy.

 

One word of warning. You may "know" Dracula through the endless adaptations of the novel that have appeared over the years since it first publication. There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of stage plays, motion pictures, radio and televisions series, comic books and other versions of the story. My little grandson, not yet four years of age, is thoroughly familiar with the cuddly Count Von Count, a recurring character on Sesame Street. My own favorites are the silent Nosferatu (1922), dir. F. W. Murnau, with Max Schreck, Dracula (1931), dir. Tod Browning, with Bela Lugosi, and The Horror of Dracula (1958), dir. Terence Fisher, with Christopher Lee. But there are plenty of others to choose from. I imagine you could watch a Dracula motion picture every night for years on end, before moving on to TV series like Dark Shadows or Angel.

 

And of course, in addition to the direct adaptations of Dracula there are the endless run of more or less Dracula-esque vampire novels, from Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot (1975) to Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire (1976) to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight (2005). Stoker was not the first author to write a vampire novel, but Dracula set the standard for the genre, and no other vampire novel -- or movie or comic book or role-playing game -- can ever or will ever surpass it as the definitive work in the field.

 

But -- and here's the big but -- you don't really know Dracula unless you've read Stoker's novel. And it is a gripping, thrilling, even frightening novel still. It remains in print in languages around the world in editions ranging from inexpensive paperbacks to deluxe collector-oriented volumes beautifully printed on fine vellum and bound in luxuriant gold-stamped covers. You can get it as audio if that's your preference, or download it free from several internet sites. You're wasting your time if you even try to read Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula without first reading the novel itself. But believe me, if you have read and loved this book, you will enjoy the Notes endlessly and you will understand and appreciate Stoker's great achievement even more.

 

 

 

 

Nenonen, Michael

The Republic of East Vancouver (Aug 25, 2009)

 

Iím impressed by the amount of work required to transcribe and annotate these notes, as well as by the thoughtfulness of the concluding analysis. Iím particularly intrigued by the use of Levi-Straussís structuralism as an analytic tool, and by the suggestion that Draculaís foremost theme is the development of a heightened state of moral consciousness.

 

 

 

 

Niels K. Petersen

ďMagia PosthumaĒ (blog) Sept 26, 2008

http://magiaposthuma.blogspot.com:80/2008/09/creation-of-modern-myth.html

 

In 1897, Bram Stoker was asked if there is any historical basis for the vampire legend. He answered:

'It rested, I imagine, on some such case as this. A body may have been dug up and found alive, and from this a horror seized upon the people, and in their ignorance they imagined that a vampire was about.'

It is well known that Stoker was inspired by Emily Gerard's article on 'Transylvanian Superstitions', and as I have mentioned in an earlier post, this was where he found the word 'nosferatu' that he immortalized as a synonym for 'vampire', although no such word actually exists in Transylvania.

But now anyone interested in how Stoker shaped the modern literary vampire with his Count Dracula, is able to study his working notes and literary sources in a remarkable book that I have just received: Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition annotated and transcribed by Robert Eighteen-Bisang and Elizabeth Miller with a foreword by Michael Barsanti (published by McFarland).

The above interview is quoted in the overview at the end of the book, where the authors also tell us that 'Stoker did more writing and research on vampires before his vacation in Whitby than many people have assumed. The Notes confirm that he began working on a vampire novel before he discovered the name "Dracula" or chose Transylvania as the monster's homeland.' (p. 284)

In his foreword, former associate director of the Rosenbach Foundation where the notes are kept, Michael Barsanti writes that 'Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula are one of the greatest treasures in the Rosenbach Museum & Library - a small house that has been converted into a museum and rare-book library on a shady, residential street in the center of Philadelphia. The Notes are kept in a specially-made box in company with manuscripts by Stoker's fellow Dubliners Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, as well as Joseph Conrad, Lewis Carroll, and other famous writers.'

The Notes were originally first mentioned in a popular book in the late Seventies, but have been studied intensely by a some researchers over the past few years, and many popular myths about Dracula have been debunked, as I have already mentioned in a couple of posts like this one. However, now that the Notes are available to the general reader, anyone with an interest in the genesis of Dracula can study Stoker's hand written and machine typed notes. They give an invaluable insight into what Stoker actually knew about vampires and the so-called 'historical Dracula', as well as knowledge on how the plot and characters developed. It is e.g. quite delightful to see how he initially intended the count to be called Count Wampyr, but later on replaced 'Wampyr' with 'Dracula'!

Apart from the facsimile reproduction and transcription of the Notes, the book contains an overview of the characters, the plot, and the sources. It also contains a short biography and bibliography of Stoker's works, and the 1888 entry on Vampire from the Encyclopedia Britannica which mostly deals with the vampire bat, although both Ranft and Calmet are briefly mentioned.

The Notes, of course, provide no insights into the original vampire cases or the 17th and 18th century magia posthuma, but they allow us to come as close as will probably ever be possible to know how Stoker actually developed his vampiric count and in doing so influenced modern popular culture.

In an essay on 'The Myth of Dracula', the authors try to give a clue to why Dracula has proved to be so popular. As they say, 'Many literary critics are baffled by Dracula's undying popularity.' The Notes will hardly answer that question, but as the authors say:

'Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula not only reveal the genesis of a novel but serve as the first tentative steps in the creation of a modern myth. They provide a wealth of insights into this tale of "spiritual pathology", which transcends its author's talents as a writer to speak to us today in the timeless language of myth.'

Consequently, I can only highly recommend this important book to anyone interested in gaining that insight.

 

 

 

 

Peter Schwotzer

Famous Monsters of Filmland (Nov 12, 2008)

http://famousmonstersoffilmland.com/2008/11/12/review-bram-stokers-notes-for-dracula-a-facsimile-edition/

 

The Authors
Robert Eighteen-Bisang, is most famous for his large private collection of vampire literature, which is the largest in the world and is considered an authority on Dracula and vampire literature. He runs a publishing house called Transylvania Press and has a Masters Degree in Sociology.

Elizabeth Miller is recognized the world over for her expertise on Bram Stokerís Dracula and is a retired English professor.  She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She has published dozens of articles and six books on Dracula: Reflections on Dracula, Dracula; The Shade and the Shadow, Dracula; Sense & Nonsense, a volume on Dracula for the Dictionary of Literary Biography and A Dracula Handbook

To be honest, I have to tell you first that to me Bram Stokerís Dracula is the Holy Bible of Horror Fiction. In fact the only book that has been in print longer and sold more copies is the Bible itself. I have read Dracula too many times to remember and I own about twenty versions of it in hardcover, paperback, graphic novel etc. I didnít think anything could compare to this timeless story until I received my review copy of Bram Stokerís Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition in the mail.

My hands were literally shaking as I read through the pages and saw the photos of Bramís handwritten notes. With the novel right beside me I went back and forth between the two books, comparing, researching and just having a hell of a time putting myself in Bramís shoes so to speak. It was a wondrous experience that I will never ever forget.

The Holy Grail has been found and we all have a chance to drink from it.

I find it difficult to put into words how much this book means to me. It has opened a whole new realm of appreciation for Stokerís vampire tale, one that did not exist before and I have the coauthors to thank.

Reading this book is like traveling through time. With the wonderful annotations and insights of the coauthors you can picture yourself looking over Bramís shoulder as he works. The painstaking work and detail put into this book is mind-boggling and was surely a labor of love for Dr. Miller and Mr. Eighteen-Bisang.

The book also includes Bramís typewritten research notes with a thorough analysis of all the materials. The coauthors rely on their vast knowledge of vampire lore and Dracula to lead you through the novels construction and the changes made to its characters and plots.

In addition to the notes and annotations, there are also separate appendices that contain the construction of the novel, ďDraculaís GuestĒ, the novelís characters, an 1888 Encyclopedia Britannica entry on the term Ďvampireí and more.

Bram Stokerís initial notes and outlines for Dracula were auctioned at Sothebyís in London in 1913 and ended up at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, where they remain. Until now you had to travel to Philadelphia to see the notes but with this book not only can you see photos of the notes you have the coauthorís expertise to guide you.

This is no mere book about Bram Stokerís Dracula, this is the authoritative supplement to the novel, you canít own one without the other.  Anyone with any interest in the creation of one of the greatest novels in history must own Bram Stokerís Notes for Dracula. It is that exceptional.

 

 

 

Dacre Stoker (great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker)

amazon.comOct 24, 2008

 

***** Bramís Dracula Notes have arisen

 

The authors, Miller and Eighteen-Bisang, have done a wonderful job in demystifying these mostly handwritten notes that my great-grand uncle Bram Stoker created as his notes for the book Dracula. I had access to the notes myself for research, but the form that Elizabeth and Robert have put them in, as well as the comments and perspective they have added, make this a must-have for anyone interested in Dracula.

 

 

 

 

Wilson, David Niall

Oct 1, 2008

 

A short while ago, a package arrived at my door. I get a lot of books, some that I buy, some that I get the privilege of seeing ahead of time and reviewing, some that people want me to consider for awards. As much as I love books, the thrill of new books entering the to be read pile can lose itís shine over time.

 

Imagine my surprise and pleasure at receiving my friend and long time associate Robert Eighteen-Bisangís first published book, ďBram Stokerís Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition,Ē which he wrote with Elizabeth Miller.

 

For starters, the book is a thing of beauty. It is bound in maroon boards with gold gilt lettering - very elegant. There is no dust-jacket since itís a reference book, but that would just detract, I think. Itís a serious book, and Iím a serious lover of all things Dracula.

 

As a writer, this is a real treasure. Inside these covers are Bram Stokers initial hand-written notes planning out the novel Dracula in beautifully reproduced facsimile images. Then, along with those notes the authors have transcribed the hand-written body of the work and added annotations, analysis, and cross-references. This book has an amazing variety of material. There are notes on the characters and settings, seemingly unrelated bits of research, a calendar of events (sort of a time-line of the novel) - all organized in a fashion that makes exquisite sense of the material.

 

Both authors are experts in vampire lore. Rob has one of (if not by now THE) most extensive collection of vampire fiction in the world - and definitely knows more about Dracula, the man and the novel, than anyone Iíve met in a lifetime of loving vampires and vampire fiction. He owns the first Colonial Edition of Dracula to be found (there are others now) because I found it for him on eBay. He has a presentation copy of the first edition. My point is - the man knows what heís doing.

 

This book is a scholarly, well-organized and aesthetically pleasing marvel of a reference. If you love Dracula, or are just interested in the process by which one of the greatest modern horror classics came into being - this book is a must-read.

 

Be forewarned, itís not cheap. Itís a reference, and it was meant for reference libraries. Dracula - however - is a work of vast influence. There are a lot of people interested in this book, the author, and the Count. If you are one such, you need to read this.

 

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous comments

 

 

ďA brilliant, jaw-dropping piece of scholarship.Ē (David J. Skal)

 

ďThe highlight of the year. A superbly annotated and scholarly masterpiece.Ē (Richard Dalby)

 

ďGood work; wonderful book! You can be very proud of it.Ē (Lloyd Currey)

 

ďWe are pleased to recommend this authoritative work.Ē (Jeanne Youngson)

 

ďA masterpiece.Ē (Ingrid Pitt)

 

ďWhat a fabulous book! I would have been proud to have put my name to that.Ē (Clive Leatherdale)