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Notes from Dracula

Why The Essential Dracula, edited by Leonard Wolf, though at times fascinating, is unreadable:

7 Not shown in Baedeker. Though why Harker, as a patriotic Englishman, did not stay in the Königin von England (Queen of England) is a puzzle.

8 Marcia Colman Morton’s recipe for this well-known dish in her book, The Art of Viennese Cooking (p. 60) follows:
PAPRIKA CHICKEN (Paprika hendl)
1 young foul, about 4 pounds; 2 tablespoons fat; 2 large onions, chopped; 2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika; ½ cup tomato juice; 2 tablespoons flour; ½ cup sour cream. Cut chicken into serving pieces, and salt. Lightly brown onions in fat. Blend in half the paprika. Add tomato juice and chicken. Simmer, covered, 1 hour or until tender. Remove chicken. Add remaining paprika to sauce, then add the flour beaten into sour cream. Simmer, stirring, 5 minutes or until well blended. Put sauce through sieve, food mill, or blender. Heat chicken and puréed sauce together over low flame. Arrange chicken on warm platter. Pour half the sauce over; pass the rest separately in a sauceboat. Serve with Flour Dumplings. 6 servings

Paget (p. 261) gives a more charming recipe: “I do not think I have yet enlightened the reader as to the mystery of a paprika hendel; to forget it would be a depth of ingratitude of which, I trust, I shall never be guilty. Well, then, reader, if ever you travel in Hungary, and want a dinner or supper quickly, never mind the variety of dishes your host names, but fix at once on paprika hendel. Two minutes afterwards, you will hear signs of a revolution in the basse cour; the cocks and hens are in alarm; one or two of the largest, and probably oldest members of their unfortunate little community, are seized, their necks wrung, and, while yet fluttering, immersed in boiling water. Their coats and skins come off at once; a few unmentionable preparatory operation sare rapidly despatched—probably under the traveller’s immediate observation—then the wretches are cut into pieces, thrwon into a pot, with water, butter, flour, cream, and an inordinate quantity of red pepper, or paprika, and, very shortly after, a number of bits of fowl are seen swimming in a dish of hot greasy gravy, quite delightful to think of.”

25 Exceptionally. Harker tells us later that he arrived in Bistrita “on the dark side of twilight,” which would be about 7:00 P.M. in that latitude. Even at the slow speed noted, that would mean a twelve-hour journey or nearly eight hours late!

35 Who would do the calling and how the caller will know when Jonathan is awake is not made clear.

48 To this day farmers in Transylvania construct hayricks by throwing hay around two or three long stakes set into the ground. Illustrations of such hayricks, with the stakes protruding from them like branches, may have given Stoker the impression of “hay-ricks in the trees.”

61 The lore of the blue flame is discussed fully in chapter 2, note 16.

65 Both allegorically and stylistically, these paragraphs are high points.

Chapter 2.

7 Very strange. There does exist a medical condition known as hypertrichosis, an excessive hairiness that may be purely localized or so extreme that sufferers from the condition may be exhibited as hairy monsters. There was a Peter Gonzales born with such long hair in 1556 in the Canary Islands. He was later sent to the court of King Henry II of France. Gonzales married, and several of his children, too, were hairy. Hypertrichosis is an exceedingly rare condition, occurring only once in a billion births.

Though Summers does not give other instances of palm hair, he does quote the Frenchman Venette as saying that very hairy men are “usually amorous.”

One wonders whether Stoker knew the American boys’ entrapment game in which one boy says “If you masturbate, you’ll grow hair on your palms,” and watches to see which of his listeners looks guiltily down at his hands.

Finally, following this lead a moment longer, it is worth nothing that the description of Dracula given here has certain similarities with the standard nineteenth-century image of the masturbator. Wayland Young, in Eros Denied (p. 236) quotes from William Acton’s Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs (1857) in which Claude-François Lallemand’s description of the effects of masturbation on children is given as follows:

“However young the children may be, they become thin, pale and irritable, and their features assume a haggard appearance. We notice the sunken eye, the long, cadaverous-looking countenance, the downcast look which seems to arise from a consciousness in the boy that his habits are suspected, and, at a later period, from the ascertained fact that his virility is lost…. Habitual masturbators have a dank, moist, cold hand, very characteristic of vital exhaustion; their sleep is short, and most complete marasmus [wasting of the body] comes on; they may gradually waste away if the evil passion is not got the better of, nervous exhaustion sets in, such as spasmodic contraction, or partial or entire convulsive movements, together with epilepsy, eclampsy, and a species of paralysis accompanied with contraction of the limbs.”

If this is a portrait that does not suggest the power that Dracula manifests, one needs only to remember the inert, pale cataleptic figure of the vampire in his daytime coffin.

13 No doubt a horrific irony is intended here.

23 A surprisingly melancholy passage. Is Dracula lonely? Why does he want Harker there? Is he really testing his English, or his social skills, as he claims?

Chapter 3.

49 I have tried, calmly as well as passionately, to reproduce this churning sound with my tongue but without success. It may be a noise that only a passionate vampire can make.

50 Dracula’s attitude toward the misbehaving women is that of an angry husband or father. But it develops he is possessive of Harker, not the women! Note, below, his attentive gaze at Harker just before he answers the charge of the women that he has never loved.

52 A baby seems small prey for such a mighty hunter as Dracula.

Chapter 6.

18 Stoker is in error here. The date should be July 25.

34 Along with everyone else in the book!

35 Polonius, commenting on Hamlet’s feigned madness: “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” (Hamlet, Act II, Scene II, line 207.)

And so forth.

 

Comments

I am glad to see someone tried the paprika hendl recipe and liked it!