A few years ago, I borrowed a box of books from my father and stepmother. Some were for educational purposes, such as The Physics Handy Answer Book and numerous old English textbooks, while others were for pleasure. One of these books I chose for pleasure was actually an omnibus of horror – Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I could not find the time to read it, however, and eventually, it just became another one of those books in a pile of things that I might get to in the next century or so, like many of my craft and sewing projects. Finally, I dusted off the book and decided I was going to read Frankenstein for a paper this past semester. Well, that did not exactly happen, either.

Now it is summer, and I am reading that book and many other books I have been meaning to for so long. I am not taking any classes, but I have my job at the library to go to. One of the bright aspects about my job, though, is that even if there are tasks for me to do – no matter how menial or complicated they can be – I always have a little time to read. Which, in turn, since I can’t really read at the house I am staying, gives me a little time to do more things, like reading, playing Alex’s DS, or watching movies and television series I have checked out from the library. So far, I am having an enriching summer doing things for which I rarely have time.

Anyway, I have finished reading Frankenstein and Dracula, and I was glad to finally read them. I love seeing the difference between the novels and their representations in pop culture. As a book lover, I do feel a little guilty that this copy has started to really show its wear, including a front cover I had to tape back on with precision. In a way, though, it gives it character – right?

Frankenstein/Dracula

Frankenstein starts with a basic premise – man thinks he can create life and creates a monster instead – but it has so much more to it. Victor Frankenstein is, in a sense, the ultimate deadbeat dad. He creates his creature and flees, hoping that all will remain forgotten and he can go on with his life. Wrong. Of course, it would not be the same if he just ditched his creation and never heard from it again.

My favorite aspect of Frankenstein is when the Creature confronts Victor Frankenstein. I enjoy his story – coming into the world, lost and alone, and his struggle for survive and for acceptance by society. He speaks with intelligence, unlike media portrayals, though there are some flaws in Shelley’s storytelling. For instance, even though he is observes the DeLaceys, I could not understand how he could so aptly learn speech and writing from just observation. I mean, obviously he had to understand enough in order to read John Milton’s Paradise Lost and to understand the concepts of the work.

“No distinct ideas occupied my mind; all was confused. I felt light, and hunger, and thirst, and darkness; innumerable sounds rang in my ears, and on all sides various scents saluted me; the only object that I could distinguish was the bright moon, and I fixed eyes upon that with pleasure.”

It really is so sad, the Creature’s rejection, and then his request to have another, a bride, denied, to be completely refused any happiness during his life. It might be somewhat morbid or disturbing for the Creature to murder so many people and willingly know that his actions were wrong, but I think Frankenstein deserved what he received in the end. I know, it sounds sick.

Dracula was also different from my expectations. Instead of a straightforward novel, it is entirely created from documents written by the characters. I felt it became a bit tedious at times, and I hated the ending. They kill the Count in one page! One! The entire novel is built up around him and his evil plans, and you expect a huge confrontation, and then it’s all, “Quincey gets stabbed by a gypsy, but he and Johnathan kill the Count and Mina is safe and everything’s going to be happy.” Dracula still had its suspense, though. I liked reading about Renfield, and about the Count’s attacks on Mina and Lucy and the vampire lore that Stoker created. Much better than, say, recent vampire novels where whiny, insecure, and angst-filled teenage girls fall in love with overpowered, whiny, insecure, angst-filled, sparkly vampires.

Seriously – if one wants to read a good vampire novel, pick Dracula, or any of Anne Rice’s vampire works, or my personal favorite, The Historian. I love The Historian, it’s so beautiful and amazing, and I would read it again this summer if I did not have a huge list of books I wanted to read for the first time.

Next on my reading list is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to finish up this tattered, beloved book. That shouldn’t take long. I must say, though, we have such fitting weather for Gothic literature – it has been raining heavily for the past couple of days, and it is surprisingly chilly.

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