Literary Spin-offs: Dracula
Posted by: David Pitt
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, has spawned a plethora of movie adaptations, homages, rip-offs, and spin-offs. Its literary progeny are fewer, but there are some interesting literary spin-offs.
First and most obvious is Dracula: the Un-Dead (2009), a direct sequel written by Dacre Stoker, Bram’s great-grandnephew, and Dracula scholar Ian Holt. It’s an imaginative and frequently terrifying novel. The authors expand on Bram Stoker’s original story and characters, and introduce some compelling new ones. I especially like their clever — and well presented — solution to the Jack the Ripper mystery, too.
Fred Saberhagen, the noted science fiction author, wrote a series of novels about Dracula, beginning with the intriguing The Dracula Tape (1975), which is essentially a retelling of Stoker’s story from Dracula’s point of view. Its sequel, The Holmes-Dracula File (1978), teams the vampire with the world’s greatest consulting detective; in 1990′s A Matter of Taste he’s living in modern-day Chicago.
Elizabeth Kostova’s 2005 debut novel, The Historian, is a beautifully written exploration of Dracula’s history and the mythology surrounding him. Like Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt, and also Fred Saberhagen (and, considerably more obliquely, Bram himself), Kostova draws a literary and geneological connection between the Count and Vlad Tepes, the 15th-century Romanian prince who was otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Dracul.
And we mustn’t forget In Search of Dracula (1972), by Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu. The book was, I think, the first major work of scholarship that explored the historical roots of Stoker’s fictional vampire, and the book that catapulted Vlad Tepes, Dracula’s real-life ancestor, into popular culture. I read it years ago, and again more recently, and as a work of historial and literary scholarship it’s quite impressive: simply written, solidly documented, and — if you’re a Dracula fan — hugely exciting.