Dracula Daily Reminds Us Why We Can Never Get Enough of the Count – tor.com

If youve reared your head online since the 3rd of May this year, you may have noticed a surprising new anxiety sweeping peoples feeds: How fares our friend Jonathan Harker?

No, we havent all suddenly become pen pals with the same random guy: were talking about the protagonist of Dracula, the epistolary Gothic horror novel, which is being emailed out as a Substack created by Matt Kirkland. To keep pace with the events of the novel, the newsletter will run from Harkers first diary entry in May through to November 7th, andcontrary to its nameit does not update daily, only on the dates which correspond to a part of the book.

Since its publication at the tail-end of the Victorian era, Draculawritten by Irish author Bram Stokerhas become a wildly popular Gothic staple, casting a long, sinister shadow over pop culture that stretches far beyond the novel itself. The name Dracula today is practically synonymous with the word vampire, despite its etymology putting it closer to the word dragon. At Halloween, supermarket aisles are crammed with capes, wigs, and plastic white fangs for children to dress up in (despite being too young to read the book itself).

A portion of this renown can be attributed to the iconic 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi; one of the earliest of dozens of spin-offs and adaptations of Dracula which have appeared over the years. But the film is far from the only retelling which has kept the tale of Count Dracula alive for 125 years; he has made hundreds of appearances onscreen, in comedy and romance and gritty horror; in books and plays and even in ballet. Most recently, several adaptations seeking to explore the untold tale of the three unnamed women in Draculas castlecalled the weird sisters in the novel, but popularly known as the Brides of Draculahave seen enormous success. Among these are the dark, queer indie-published sensation that is S.T. Gibsons A Dowry of Blood and the sapphic YA bestseller The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, written as part of Hachette UKs Bellatrix collection, which focuses on reclaiming and retelling the stories of forgotten girls and women in literature and history.

The port town of Whitby has also become a cultural landmark associated with the novel, as it is the place where Stoker found much inspiration for his novel, and the place where Dracula first sets foot in England. Playing host to the Whitby Goth Weekend, and boasting an immersive Dracula Experience, the town keenly embraces its role in the evolution of the book. Excitingly, on the 26th of May this year, fans of Dracula and its various iterations gathered in the sunny seaside location to mark the books 125th anniversaryand while they were there, they broke the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as vampires, with a turnout of 1,369 fanged participants!

Dracula Daily, which first began in 2021 and is now in its second iteration, has seen an explosion of popularity this yearand with good reason. Not only does the novel, formatted as a series of letters and diary entries, lend itself naturally to the bite-sized newsletter format, but the fun, communal aspect of the project and the easy digestibility of each update has created a truly special book-club atmosphere in online circles; its proven to be an ingenious method of disseminating and appreciating classic literature in the 21st century. From a rough 1.6k subscriber count in 2021, there are now over 200,000 people reading along with each instalment.

With this surge of new readership has come a revived interest in the characters of the book itself, often ignored by pop culture in favour of the more mysterious, dramatic figure of the Count. Among these are the solicitor Jonathan Harkerthe first narrator we meet, and a fascinating male inversion of the Gothic ingnueand his pragmatic schoolteacher fiance, Mina Murray, whose down-to-earth intelligence and affection for those she loves have fast won over the internets hearts. Then there is Lucy Westenra (Minas chipper, wealthy best friend) and Lucys three suitors, each of whom is more bizarre than the last. Reading along with Dracula Daily is a reminder (or a revelation, for those who havent read the book before) that the characters of the novel are funny, larger-than-life, endearingly human yet, in a novel that truly has worked to earn its place on the horror shelf, these traits only make you fear for their well-being all the more.

If youre late to join the bandwagon, you need not worry about missing out on the chapters which have already been sent; theres an archive where you can catch up for free! (Or, alternately, you can probably find a hard copy of Dracula wherever you prefer to buy your books.) One key difference to remember, thoughif youre doing a read-along with the original textis that Dracula itself isnt told in exact chronological order. By following the Substack, were getting to experience the novel in a uniquely linear way, just as the characters of the novel would be experiencing it themselves.

The best news of all is that Dracula Daily is not the only literary newsletter out there. If your undying thirst has yet to be slaked and you would like to see more classics in your inbox, you may enjoy one (or more!) of the following:

Holly Kybett Smith isawriter based in the south of England, where she is currently studying for her MA in Victorian Gothic.Akeen lover of historical and speculative fiction, she specialises in all things dark, whimsical and weird. Her work has been featured in Issue #2 of the New Gothic Review.

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Dracula Daily Reminds Us Why We Can Never Get Enough of the Count - tor.com

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