18 October 2009

Dacula - Chapters 13-16: The ones in which Van Helsing is Reticent

Wait, Van Helsing being reticent isn't enough to figure these out? I don't share quite the same sense of exasperation that 'kül and Infinite Detox have for these chapters in which Van Helsing continues to drag things out, but let's just say it's a good thing they finally chopped off Lucy's head and drove a stake through her, because any more would have been past my limit. That said, I cannot possibly hope to describe what has happened any better than ID, so I quote them here:
Van Helsing hand-feeding Seward from his little Dutch Pez-dispenser of clues every step of the goddamn way.
Yep, that sums it up perfectly.  I guess upon retrospection, this whole section has been overly long. We've known what is happening for ages, as has Van Helsing. Was there any need for him to draw it out for so many chapters? I wonder how much of this has to do with the fact that we know Dracula is a vampire from popular culture. It would be fascinating to know what public reception of the novel was at the time of its release. Did the Victorians share in our exasperation? I feel that Elizabeth Miller could best answer my question, and if she's reading, please join in the comments!

But another factor that, I think, adds to our angst with Stoker's dramatic pacing is how riveting the opening chapters were. Remember that feeling of being shocked, terrified, creeped out, or otherwise that we all felt? Well we haven't had that in a while. We're in the exposition part of the book now, where some things have to be drawn out. Maybe this is unavoidable. I've been enjoying the references to Dan Brown, but remember: Dan Brown would never allow a lull like this. It's fast-paced all the time with him. Perhaps, in the end, we will see this as a point in Stoker's favor. And perhaps, we won't.

With that said, I'm glad to see the action picking up again. We learn some tricks of the de-vampiring trade, including stakes, garlic in the decapitated head, and Body of Christ Putty (tm). I'm fascinated by the fact that Van Helsing has a dispensation from the Pope to use communion wafers. This means the Vatican not only knows of the un-dead, but approves of Van Helsing hunting them (which, logically, they should). Could be an interesting twist later on, though I kind of doubt we get the Vatican involved (that would be too much like Dan Brown).

Anyhow, for these middling chapters, what do you think? Anything particularly strike your fancy? Let's hear it in the comments!


  1. I don't think you're going to get any papal involvement...my edition of the book expalins that while he says indulgence what VH really means is dispensation (as you said) but in reality there's nooooo way such a thing would ever happen (even in crazy dracula land-maybe dan brown land though). I believe they use the word "spurious", which should make you happy.

  2. Spurious is a phenomenal word. So yes, it does make me happy. Though sad since I don't get any papcy in the book.