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Here's the updated link for Cane Hill on Abandoned Britain-- very atmospheric!
Even after seeing the empty coffin, and Lucy's un-decomposed corpse, Seward finds it hard to believe what Van Helsing is trying to tell him about her. Today, we would say "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence": Seward has not yet seen any evidence that rises to that level.
Toggle Commented 14 hours ago on It is wonderful what a good night at Dracula Blogged
This is the first time Van Helsing lets the word "vampire" cross his lips.
“So if it be that he [i.e. the vampire who created Lucy] come thither on this night he shall find me; but none other shall—until it be too late.” Van Helsing is no great shakes as a strategist. He thinks the Count might kill him in the churchyard this night, with “the strength in his hand of twenty men”, or “his wolf and I know not what.” His note also says that the Count could find shelter in Lucy’s tomb. Yet all he has for protection are his crucifix and garlic, which he believes will protect him from a young vampire like Lucy. On October 1, Van Helsing’s idea of the equipment needed to safely face the Count is more extensive. What would have happened if, on their very first visit to the cemetery, Seward and Van Helsing had been killed by the Count and their bodies hidden? Would the Harkers still have met up with Holmwood and Morris? Without Van Helsing’s forceful personality and esoteric knowledge, would his crazy crusade have ended? Or would the enterprising Harkers interview the servants at Hillingham and at Seward’s asylum, listen to Seward’s phonograph diary, and lead the hunt for the Count in Van Helsing’s place?
VISITS TO WESTENRA TOMB Number of visits: 3 Time of visit: From sunset on 27 September to sunrise on 28 September Who: Van Helsing Purpose of visit: Observation, though what he expects to see is unclear. To test how to seal the tomb, perhaps? "'Yesterday… I waited here all the night till the sun rose, but I saw nothing. It was most probable that it was because I had laid over the clamps of those doors garlic, which the Un–Dead cannot bear, and other things which they shun. Last night there was no exodus…” (29 September, Ch. 16) Anti-vampire measures: Crucifix, garlic fixed on or near the tomb (perhaps mixed with putty, as he does with the Host later?) Notes: What does Van Helsing mean by “the clamps of those doors”? It doesn't seem like he would be satisfied with just treating the hardware, especially in view of how he later seals up the entire gap between the door and door frame with putty. A 19th Century dictionary defines "to clamp" as "in joining, to fit a board with the grain to another piece across the grain; this is of use to prevent warping."* So perhaps the top and bottom rails and the side stiles of a wooden panel door could collectively be called "clamps"? Putting garlic on those parts of a door-- whether by rubbing cloves, or by draping greenery and flowers-- would certainly cover a larger area. Van Helsing seems to have been dissatisfied with the result, since on later nights he uses a different method to seal the tomb. *
After Van Helsing examines Lucy asleep in her tomb: “‘Here, there is one thing which is different from all recorded; here is some dual life that is not as the common. She was bitten by the vampire when she was in a trance, sleep–walking—oh, you start; you do not know that, friend John, but you shall know it all later—and in trance could he best come to take more blood. In trance she died, and in trance she is Un–Dead, too. So it is that she differ from all other. Usually when the Un–Dead sleep at home’—as he spoke he made a comprehensive sweep of his arm to designate what to a vampire was ‘home’—‘their face show what they are, but this so sweet that was when she not Un–Dead she go back to the nothings of the common dead. There is no malign there, see, and so it make hard that I must kill her in her sleep.’” English-to-English translation: "‘This is different from anything I have seen recorded. It’s some kind of unusual dual life. She was bitten by the vampire when she was sleep-walking in a trance. The vampire later found it easiest to take more blood from her when she was in a trance. She died in a trance, and in a trance she is also UnDead. That makes her unique. Usually when the UnDead sleep in their tomb, their faces are obviously vampiric, but when Lucy is sleeping, she is not UnDead and so she looks like any other dead person. She does not look like a vampire while sleeping in her tomb, and that will make it hard for me to kill her in her sleep.’" In Jonathan's journal, he observed the Count 'sleeping at home' and the Count did not have any unusually vampiric appearance. Jonathan writes, “He was either dead or asleep, I could not say which…”. (June 25). In this case, what Van Helsing learned from folktales was at odds with observation. As a scientist, he ought to have discarded the folk belief and trusted Jonathan's report; however, the new information from Jonathan's journal was still quite fresh. Perhaps Van Helsing had not yet studied the journal carefully and considered the implications.
VISITS TO WESTENRA TOMB Visits to date: 2 Time of visit: 2 p.m. Who: Seward, Van Helsing Purpose of visit: Not stated in advance Anti-vampire measures: None stated; daytime. Presumably Van Helsing has his golden crucifix. Notes: Lucy is seen in her coffin without any sign of decomposition despite being dead for a week. Van Helsing shows Seward her teeth are sharper, enabling her to bite the children.
Well, today DraculaBlog got real!. I was thinking of the blog when it hit me-- not only am I experiencing Dracula in "real time", but I am also located at the same latitude as the action, which is now in London. Sunrise and sunset will be at approximately the same time, the season is roughly the same. The climate here, sadly, is a bit harsher.
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Chapter 15 at Dracula Blogged
“…[I] found the Professor holding in his arms a tiny child…[we] looked at the child's throat. It was without a scratch or scar of any kind.” BLOOFER LADY casualties to date: 3 1/2
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Chapter 15 at Dracula Blogged
VISITS TO WESTENRA TOMB Visits to date: 1 Time of visit: 11 p.m.? Who: Seward, Van Helsing Purpose of visit: Not stated in advance Anti-vampire measures: None stated Notes: Van Helsing opens Lucy’s coffin and breaks the inner lead seal. Seward and Van Helsing see that the coffin is empty. They watch the area outside the tomb from midnight to sometime between 2 and 3 a.m., when they see an elusive “white figure“ in the cemetery from a distance, and recover a small child. By not telling Seward what he expects to see, Van Helsing can pretend that whatever they see is precisely what he expected (“magician’s choice”).
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Chapter 15 at Dracula Blogged
Van Helsing: "'Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all, and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain." Today, we might describe Van Helsing as suffering from "Nobel disease", a phenomenon where eminent scientists stop practicing science and just believe whatever feels right to them. Notable examples include Linus Pauling (Nobel prizes for chemistry and peace, Vitamin C enthusiast), William Shockley (Nobel prize for physics, later a supporter of eugenics), and Brian Josephson (Nobel for physics, became fascinated by quantum mysticism). . Nobel disease:
"Doctor, you don’t know what it is to doubt everything, even yourself. No, you don’t, you couldn’t with eyebrows like yours.’ He seemed pleased, and laughed as he said, ‘So! You are a physiognomist.’" Not only is Jonathan a devotee of the pseudoscience of divining character from a person's face, but so is Mina; indeed, she later (28 Oct) refers to Lombroso, whose theories on physiognomy and criminality were extremely influential. I had planned to write more about physiognomy, Lombroso, Nordau, George Edalji, eugenics, and the pencil test, but just dipping a toe into that cesspit made me want to have a shower. It was mostly a fun parlour trick to Jonathan and Mina, like asking someone what sign they are, but the harms went much deepe.
Already working on it! :)
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on THE "BLOOFER LADY" at Dracula Blogged
“…another child, missed last night, was only discovered late in the morning…It was terribly weak, and looked quite emaciated.” BLOOFER LADY casualties to date: 3
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on THE "BLOOFER LADY" at Dracula Blogged
BLOOFER LADY casualties to date: at least 2
“…a ‘bloofer lady’ had asked him to come for a walk…” So Lucy actually spoke to him! Somehow I missed this in all my previous readings. It is also interesting to note how language has changed in the last 120+ years. Today, we would be appalled to see young children called “it”, as happens throughout the Bloofer Lady storyline. A comment on this entry would not be complete without a link to Elizabeth Miller’s Blooferland, via the Wayback Machine:
"Believe me, Your faithful and grateful friend, MINA HARKER." I love a good complimentary close. For about five years, I signed most of my emails as ‘Your very humble and most obedient servant’, and I think that typing that out kept me from sending some emails that I would have regretted. I hasten to add that I did this when posting to listservs about the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and I wasn’t the only one. It wasn't some weird ‘nice guy’ affectation, it was just a weird historic affectation.
Mina is the crucial link between Lucy's illness and the Count. If she had not broken down and pleaded with Van Helsing for help with Jonathan's mental health--a situation that had no apparent connection with Lucy's illness and death--the Count might have lived in London for years without discovery.
"I am so glad I have typewritten out my own journal, so that, in case [Van Helsing] asks about Lucy, I can hand it to him... "…I shall give you a paper to read. It is long, but I have typewritten it out. ... It is the copy of [Jonathan's] journal when abroad, and all that happened." Mina must have spent pretty much all of the previous day, and perhaps also this morning, typing out the two journals on a primitive manual typewriter. She would not have even been able to see the text as she went; typewriters of the day were "blind", with the typebars hitting the paper up from below. "Visible" typewriters did not come into common use until around 1900-1910. Her hands, shoulders, and back must have ached by the end of the job! Early Office Museum:
"I could not resist the temptation of mystifying [Van Helsing] a I handed him the shorthand diary." Klinger (268 n16) says he is surprised that the multi-talented Van Helsing cannot read shorthand. However, shorthand is not a universal language. Even at the time, there were two main types of English shorthand--Gregg (dominating the United States) and Pittman (UK). If Van Helsing knows any shorthand, it might be for Dutch, or even Latin, which was widely understood amongst the medical community.* * For example, at the University of Edinburgh, “competency in Latin was obligatory” for medical students.
"It was half-past two o’clock when the knock came... In a few minutes Mary opened the door, and announced ‘Dr. Van Helsing’." Mary was doubtless Mr. Hawkins' servant before she entered the Harkers' employment, and well-known to them. It would have been an easy decision to keep her on; indeed, she may have been keeping an eye on their Exeter house during the weeks that the Harkers spent in London and on the Continent.
"I am friend of Dr. John Seward and of Lord Godalming (that was Arthur of Miss Lucy)." Mina learns, through an off-hand remark, that Holmwood’s father died sometime after she left England.
" proud I am to see my Jonathan rising to the height of his advancement and keeping pace in all ways with the duties that come upon him." What happened to the firm of Hawkins & Harker after its sole partner left Exeter unexpectedly in late September and didn't return until mid-November? It seems likely that Hawkins was in solo practice and Harker his only employee. Perhaps the clients were covered by a fellow Exeter solicitor in Jonathan's absence.
Toggle Commented 5 days ago on Chapter 14 at Dracula Blogged
"...that so fine marble house in that lonely churchyard, where rest so many of [Lucy's] kin, laid there with the mother who loved her..." "...a lordly death house in a lonely churchyard..." The Westenra tomb sounds large and impressive--at least from the outside. We later see that the interior could use a little TLC: "... time-discoloured stone, and dust-encrusted mortar, and rusty, dank iron, and tarnished brass, and clouded silverplating..." (26 Sept, Ch. 15)
"...'You will be grieved to hear that Mrs. Westenra died five days ago, and that Lucy died the day before yesterday. They were both buried today.’ Again, I am struck by the burden that Mina is carrying even before she meets Van Helsing and learns about his crusade. She knew about Jonathan's illness and Mrs. Westenra's impending death before leaving England. Upon returning home with her new husband, she may be half-expecting to learn of Lucy's mother's death, but still looking forward to reuniting with Mr. Hawkins and attending Lucy's wedding. Instead, within just a few days of her return, Mr. Hawkins dies suddenly, Lucy is dead and already buried, and Jonathan's sanity is threatened by an apparently mundane event in London. As she writes a few days later, "I have had so much trouble and anxiety of late that I feel I cannot bear more just at present." (25 Sept)