Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Zombies are red, vampires are blue"

That feverish vampires fiction renaissance that we're observing all over the world made me to read Bram Stoker's Dracula for the first time. Need to confess, I'm proceeding with Frankenstein now and alrealy have something to discuss.

Many years ago I was introduced a great criterion in fiction literature (so-called "Wells/Verne" one). It is based on the fictional details role in the plot - if author's main intension is to describe something unusual, with characters and events to form frame for some invented idea to shine and to demonstrate all its facets, then this is "Jules Verne's book". On the other hand, if mythical or science fictional background just forms a field for characters of the story to act on, to demonstrate spectacular reactions and emotions then you classify it as "H.G. Wells' book".

In these terms, Dracula is definitely of Verne's type while Frankenstein is strictly of Wells' one. I was rather astonished to realize that monster creation procedure was only a single paragraph long:
It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.
I mean, that's all, no joke. After Dracula, verbose laboratory interior descriptions, dreadfully vivid monster's appearance epithets and numerous blood-chilling cries and yellings were expected! But instead of it the book is full of dialogs and emotions, and the main idea is not about creation process visualization but outcasted being's tragedy - while Stoker's characters' way is straight and bright, there are no hesitation in what to consider evil or heroic and undead creatures' impious tricks and physiology are explained in details.

At the same time Frankenstein, despite of having literary bar raised, fails in narrative. Probably the main reason is that Mary Shelley started it being only 18 and lacking some writer's practice. Also, while she is issuing tougher challenges for the reader, implementation of those questions is not always smart. For my money, Frankenstein is much more dull comparing to Dracula, being nevertheless, unlike to Stoker's fiction story, much more real "story" than "fiction", undoubtedly.

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