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Pangolins, Dracula… February 22, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Anyone ever see the remarkable 1931 version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. One small touch in that film was Castle Dracula, supposedly in Transylvania, where as this site notes;

The castle itself is a derelict yet awesome building where the pangolins run free.

The pangolin is an animal unknown in the Carpathians.

More seriously, reading this on Slate.com about how there’s suggestions that the pangolin may be a source of COVID-19, better known as the Coronavirus.


1. Alibaba - February 22, 2020

The Lugosi Dracula is not the same one I remember from the earlier, silent film: Nosferatu, where the renamed Count Dracula (Orlok) does not create other vampires, but kills his victims, causing locals to blame deaths on the plague.

More to the point is the fact that the Irish writer, Bram Stoker, wrote the novel Dracula upon which both films are based. His Dracula slept in a coffin. He could become a bat. Dracula lived only on blood. He lived in London and fed on and turned others into vampires. He could only be killed by a wooden stake through the heart. 

A wonderful fictionalised account of the life of Bram Stoker has been created in the novel: Shadowland by Joseph O’Connor. He says “Bram Stoker was far from the first author to pen a  vampire story … But Stoker did something no one had done. He made his vampire someone the reader might pass on Oxford Street … This is a novel that sees London not so much as a well ordered imperial capital but as metropolitan heart of darkness.”

Perhaps Dracula was inspired by Stoker’s mother, from Sligo. She had written how she saw people suffer from hunger in the Irish Famine of 1845-51. Stoker was probably influenced by growing up as a sick boy in the centre of Dublin where he witnessed many poor people in the slums die from cholera. He may have seen the rivers of blood near his home close to the centre in Buckingham Street. At the corner of Summerhill and North Circular Road was a large house used by the British Army to kill animals for meat provision for soldiers.

Stoker married a woman previously engaged to Oscar Wilde. And ambiguity about sexuality does come across in his book. Incredibly he died before Dracula ever became widely known.

O’Connor reflects on the relationship between the three main characters in his book on Stoker:

“A current of sexuality runs between people all the time, a smile could be sexual. There’s a moment where Bram says that love is a lot more than who puts what where and that is my notion of the three. Hence the title, it’s more about what’s happening in the shadows, not the limelight.”


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2. alanmyler - February 23, 2020

If you’ve never read Dracula I’d really recommend it, it’s a great yarn. I first read it at the age of 16 and found it terrifying, I carried around a crucifix for a while afterwards just in case. I’ve read it many more times since. My dad is reading the Joseph O’Connor book at the moment, he was saying it’s very good too.

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Starkadder - February 23, 2020

I’d also recommend “Carmilla” by Dubliner Sheridan Le Fanu, an acknowledged influence on Stoker’s most famous work.

Interesting, Le Fanu may have been an influence on Yeats as well. The phrase “a terrible beauty” comes from a popular Le Fanu poem.



3. Daniel Rayner O'Connor - February 23, 2020

Stoker and La Fanu were both products of the Irish protestant ascendancy, though they reacted differently to their situation. Le Fanu was a Tory. Stoker left a promising career in Dublin Castle, to manage the actor and Victorian super-star Henry Irving, supported Home Rule and became a friendly acquaintance of Gladstone to whom he sent a first edition of Dracula which it seems the old man enjoyed. Incidentally, it seems probable that the architecture imagined for Dracula’s castle owes more to that of Dublin castle than to any of the castles in trnsylvania where stoker never went. (Nor did Le Fanu visit Styria, the scene for his ‘Carmilla’)
As far as their anti-heroes are concerned, it is interesting that neither could be harmed by exposure to daylight, as Dracula’s screen portrayals have been. I would mention, too, that none of these have tried using trick photography to show the Count doing his most fearsome party piece, crawling face first down a sheer wall.


Starkadder - February 24, 2020

“Stoker and La Fanu were both products of the Irish protestant ascendancy, though they reacted differently to their situation. Le Fanu was a Tory.”

I’d have to check this, but I’m sure Le Fanu expressed sympathy for the United Irishmen in his youth, when he was less of a Tory.


WorldbyStorm - February 24, 2020

I’d have to check up on Le Fanu too. Just re Stoker, what an amazing character. Irving appears to have been a monster and Stoker somewhat in thrall to him, yet now it is Stoker with the global popular cultural reputation.


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