Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Inconsistencies in "Dracula"

Going through the novel "Dracula" it became quite clear to me that the editors of our specific version of the novel were quite adamant about catching every editing error and lapse in judgment on the part of Bram Stoker. They consistently point out errors in dates, as well as contradictory statements about Dracula and other characters or events in the novel. It leaves me to wonder, however, if these mistakes were actually intentional on Stoker's part.
Writing a novel that has so many differing narrators as well as different forms of narration (from simple journaling by Jonathan and Mina Harker to phonographic recording by Dr. Seward and, at one point, Professor Van Helsing) is a monumental undertaking, and it cannot be expected that all of these accounts would directly overlap in a way that fits smoothly or fittingly. Indeed, I personally would have been more surprised were there a lack in the disparity between viewpoints or if every single date lined up perfectly without a single slip of individual memory.
The first instance of editorial corrections occurs early on in the novel, when Jonathan is ruminating over the gifts he was given by the townspeople as he left for Dracula's castle as it states "Jonathan has not mentioned these folk charms against evil spirits before, an editorial lapse on Stoker's part" (33). True, it may be an editorial lapse, but isn't it entirely possible that Stoker didn't feel the need to elaborate over such a detail in his novel when the items used to ward off vampires were relatively well known in Europe at the time? Also, Harker himself claims not to understand what the gifts were for, asking "What meant the giving of the crucifix, of the garlic, of the wild rose, of the mountain ash?" (32-33). It is assumable, in my opinion at least, that Stoker performed no such editorial slip, but wrote down exactly what he felt Jonathan Harker would have written down based on his character and backstory. It is not out of the realm of possibility, and makes perfect sense as is.
As illuminating as the editors are regarding some of the history behind "Dracula" as well as cultural footnotes and slang interpretation, I can't help but feel that they went a bit overboard in assuming that every misstep by Stoker was unintentional or a lapse in judgment.