After I posted last week about Dracula, I came to an interesting section of the book. Actually, it was pretty boring. In fact, for a book about a vampire, Dracula has surprised me with how boring it is. Of course, Bram Stoker didn’t have a library of vampire tropes that he could reference out of hand, so there’s a lot of explaining that is unnecessary for readers who are familiar with the tropes being created in the book.

But watching tropes being created is kind of fun, so that’s not the boring that I’m talking about. The boring I’m talking about is paperwork. After a lot of arguing the characters have finally decided that Dracula is a threat, so the next scene should involve a run on garlic, right?

Wrong.

All of the characters who have any interest in seeing Dracula destroyed get together in an insane asylum and do paperwork, gathering together all of the diaries and letters that have to do with Dracula so far.

As a reader, it was incredibly frustrating to think that I was finally going to get to see some vampire hunting and have to stop for chapters and watch them coo over the token woman’s transcription skills.

As a writer, for whom paying attention to the places where I get bored in my own work is an important skill, I stepped back and wondered why Stoker would take the time to do something like this. It’s not like the book needed any more padding.

Just as I was about to chalk it up to long Victorian attention spans, I figured it out. (I think.) The book is constructed out of the very diaries and letters that the characters are collecting before they go after Dracula. The decision to show the characters compiling these texts is the creation of a meta moment, an attempt to explain why the book is constructed the way it is and how it came to be.

After I realized this, the section became a bit more interesting. Not only is the book presented as a collaborative text, but the character who is most responsible for putting it together is a woman.

Could this be the first Smurfette in English literature?

Advertisements