Sunday, October 22, 2017

31 Days of Halloween - Day 22

Powers of Darkness by Bram Stoker and Valdemar Asmundsson. Translated from the Icelandic with an introduction and annotions by Hans Corneel De Roos
Overlook Duckworth. 2016.

One of the first foreign translations of Bram Stoker's classic novel, Dracula, was published in Iceland (for reasons contained in this book). What's particularly interesting about this translation is that it is not a direct translation of Stoker's novel. Why and whether or not it came from a different draft of Dracula is still a mystery. Most of the novel, now titled Makt Myrkanna (Powers of Darkness) by Valdemar Asmundsson takes place in Dracula's castle as Dracula and Thomas Harker match wits and Harker comes to understand that his fate will not be a pleasant one. Dracula is conversational. He has a housekeeper. There are not three vampire brides, but a single beautiful woman in white who continuously appears trying to seduce Thomas into removing the crucifix from around his neck. There are weird strangers and the meeting of a blood cult deep beneath the rotting castle (which Harker explores at great length). It is very different in tone and structure. The epistolary nature of Stoker's version is eliminated, so that Mina (here Wilma) is mostly absent and not ever present through letters and diary entries. Even stranger, this section of the novel now takes up five-sixths of the full length of the book. Everything else (also different) is wrapped up in a succession of quick short chapters that make up the rest of the book.

It's a fascinating read, and the background material provided by Hans Corneel De Roos and Dacre Stoker is equally interesting, even if all of the answers are not forthcoming. If you are a fan of Dracula, this is a must have



P.E. Cor said...

Oh, might have to get this! I took a course on Norse mythology years ago. The instructor was from Iceland (the university I went to has an impressive Icelandic collection and community connection). One of the texts we had to study in the course was The Poetic Edda by Snorri Sturluson. Would be interesting to see if there are any echoes of the story cycles in this translation.

Caffeinated Joe said...

Never, ever heard of this. Interesting to see a different path for the tale.