Thursday, November 8, 2012

Make a Wish Bram Stoker!

Today Bram Stoker was remembered in a Google Doodle on Google's homepage. This is Stoker's 165th birthday. Bram Stoker is best known for his still-popular novel, Dracula. I love that book. It is masterfully written. I love the format of the book. It doesn't read like a normal book, but is more a collection of journal entries, letters, and newspaper articles, which all combine to tell the story of the Vampire. It is an engaging read, and one that really scares you at times. I would recommend it to anyone. It's no wonder why it is a "classic".

Vlad Tepes,
or Vlad the Impaler
"So Mason," you may ask, "Why are you putting this up on a blog about Romanian Orphans and Longboarding? I fail to see the connection. Why Bram Stoker? Why Dracula's Dash for Hope too?" Well, I do this because the main inspiration for the character of Dracula is none other than Romanian national hero, Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler. Even the name Dracula comes from a Romanian word that means, "The Devil." Transylvania is a region in the central part of Romania. I got to live there for a while. It is a beautiful area of the world, but a little eerie on a foggy winter night.

Vlad was a very bloody ruler who helped to unite Romania. His methods were violent and often involved impaling hundreds of people till they die. The Romanians love him. Why? Not because he was so ruthless, but because he was able to hold the country together and keep the Turks from conquering. There is an anecdote that the Turks sent an army to scout out Romania before the larger force arrived. When the main part of the Turkish army reached the borders of Romania they found their scouts...but not in the condition they expected. Every soldier in the scout army was impaled on a pole and their bodies lined the road that led to Romania. The anecdote says that the Turkish Sultan was so disgusted and horrified that he vomited, and then turned his army around, leaving Romania alone.

Stories about Vlad are fascinating, macabre, and at times they can be far-fetched. My favorite, however, is Bram Stoker's story. Thanks Bram, I appreciate what you've done for us all in giving us the gift of your book.

Now...the question, do vampires exist? Were they really killed. Here are two thoughts for you to think about. In order to kill a vampire one must drive a wooden stake through their heart and chop off their head. SPOILER ALERT: In the book, Dracula is hastily "killed" with a Bowie knife to the heart, and a kukuri knife to chop off his head. This is close, but where is the wooden stake? Did it work? I believe that this is the question that led to the Dracula sequel, written by Bram's descendant Dacre Stoker. I've never read it, so tell me what you think.

Bram Stoker
Another evidence for vampires, is someone I met in Romania. We used to teach free English classes to people in the cities in which we lived. On lady we taught was about six foot three inches tall, and apparently a judo champion, very intimidating  She always wore black, with a turtleneck or a high collar. Sometimes dressed like a pirate, knee high boots and frilly sleeves with a vest. Her son was a really nice kid who was also really tall, thin and had a "goth" look. We could never tell how old she was, 29 or 50. One time we asked the class what they all did for work. Her answer, she is a real estate agent for a Count who lives in a castle in Transylvania  Sound like Jonathan Harker to anyone else. Vampire? Well, I'm not saying yes, but I'm not saying no.

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