19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
With all the fiction masquerading as fact in the world of Dracula studies and the unsubstantiated rumors about what Bram Stoker knew and didn't know, Miller's book should be required reading for any "serious Dracula scholar." There is much unreliable information about the novel "Dracula" and its author and Miller's book is about questioning the assumptions of many of the most relied-upon "Dracula" works. Miller argues that there is an "anything goes" attitude toward "Dracula," as though the novel is not worth serious consideration. She contradicts this argument and manages (with much humor) to weed through many popular misconceptions and trace them to their sources, refuting them most convincingly. From the idea that Dracula cannot walk around in daylight to the notion that Stoker's novel was inspired by a nightmare to the belief that Stoker based many elements in his novel on actual people and places to the linking of Count Dracula and Vlad Dracula, Miller explores a wide variety of mistakes, rumors and misleading statements. Miller points out that a statement of fact regarding the novel, or its author, requires proof to support it. Her's is the scientific approach to Dracula studies: if it isn't in Stoker's Notes, you have to prove it some other way. If you cannot do this, you should not state an argument as a fact. Bravo! Through more than two hundred pages, Miller takes us on a journey of discovery and we find that anyone researching information about Dracula must be aware that the source they rely on may be riddled with inaccuracies. With a copy of Miller's book at your side, however, you can approach these sources with a critical eye and avoid perpetuating the nonsense. This is a wonderful book, extremely well researched and a great resource for anyone interested in "Dracula."
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Elizabeth Miller's latest book is a welcome relief for people like myself who are continually annoyed by the unsubstantiated theories and just plain incorrect facts that have (and continue to be) passed off and have become generally accepted as "facts" over the years. In Dracula: Sense And Nonsense, Miller (to use her own words) "...challenges dozens of errors and misconceptions about Bram Stoker and his famous novel..."
The book is divided into five main chapters which cover: the sources for the novel, Stoker's writing of his classic, the novel itself, the geography covered in the book and Vlad the Impaler. A sixth chapter covers the strengths and weaknesses of other (non-fiction) books that deal with the novel Dracula in some form (bios of Stoker, studies of the novel, etc.) Each chapter is also extensively annotated.
In each of the first five chapters, Miller quotes an error or misconception surrounding the chapter subject, gives the source for the quote and then presents her evidence as to why the quote is "poppycock" (one of my favorite expressions used in the book).
Ms. Miller sprinkles some welcome humor into the book with her initial reaction(s) against given quotes. Also, you can tell that every explanation was carefully and thoroughly researched. One comes away with an immense respect for the time, effort and thought that she put into presenting her case. Her writing is succinct and scholarly, although never written above the heads of her readers.
To truly appreciate the importance of this book, a little explanation is in order. Bram Stoker kept an incredibly comprehensive record concerning the origins and sources for the writing of Dracula, many times known as his "working notes and papers". These notes were discovered in the Seventies. Thus, to establish any true facts concerning the novel, one need only look at the novel itself and Stoker's notes. Any information or "facts" that do/did not make use of these notes (since their discovery), can truly only be considered theories or assumptions.
In debunking the myths and errors related in her book, Miller uses Stoker's notes as her evidence. If the proof for one of the quoted "facts" cannot be found within said notes, Miller (correctly) identifies it hearsay, improbable, misinformed, or just plain incorrect.
Of the many inaccuracies Miller corrects, perhaps no other will cause more controversy than her severing the ties between the fictional Count and the real-life Vlad Tepes. According to the author, Stoker merely borrowed the name Dracula and any statement of fact that Stoker based his vampire Count (or even had much knowledge) on the bloodthirsty Vlad is irresponsible. Many more deep-seated, but less shocking assumptions and beliefs will likely be shattered by this book.
This won't be an easy book for many devoted fans of the novel. Old established beliefs can be hard to shake and many may simply dig in their feet and refuse to accept Miller's rebuttals. But serious fans of the novel owe it to themselves to give this book a reading. Miller only presents the best possible evidence: what Stoker himself wrote concerning the origins of his book. If it isn't in the notes, where's the proof?
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
For fans and scholars of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" who don't know what to make of the abundance of contradictory and possibly fanciful information about Stoker and his novel that is floating around, Elizabeth Miller offers a solution. "Dracula: Sense and Nonsense" attempts to address, piece by piece, the pervasive unreliable information about "Dracula" that has been passing as fact for the past few decades.
Miller doesn't challenge interpretations of the novel in this book, only outright errors and unsubstantiated propositions. Each piece of "information" that Miller has identified as a misconception is quoted, then followed by an explanation of the error and the facts of the matter, when they are verifiable. Much of the misinformation about "Dracula"'s origins can be cleared up by referring to Stoker's Working Notes for the novel, housed in the Rosenbach Museum & Library's collection in Philadelphia. Miller makes extensive use of the Notes and has also done impressive detective work tracking down sources of misconceptions. "Sense and Nonsense" addresses misinformation and unsupported supposition from a variety of scholarly and popular books on "Dracula", as well as the occasional documentary film.
"Dracula: Sense and Nonsense" is organized into 6 chapters, each of which addresses a different topic of misinformation: "The Sources for Dracula", "Stoker and the Writing of Dracula", "The Novel", "The Geography of Dracula", and "Vlad the Impaler". Miller feels a particular need to dispel the popular idea that Stoker's Count Dracula character was based on the 15th century Wallachian Prince Vlad "Dracula" Tepes. The last chapter is a "Source Alert", in which Miller critiques a number of works of "Dracula" scholarship -annotated editions, bibliographies, biographies, and miscellaneous studies- in terms of their accuracy and value to researchers.
"Dracula: Sense and Nonsense" is readable, interesting, and probably essential to obsessed "Dracula" fans. It's great to get the facts and to know their sources, which Miller documents meticulously. You may agree or disagree with some of the suppositions that have been made about the novel, but at least now you will know where they came from. Considering the ever-increasing popularity of all things Dracula in the popular press and academia, and all of the hype that comes with it, this book is indispensable.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This offensive little book was clearly written for those who never actually read Bram Stoker's novel (ironically) and just are caught up in the popular notion that the Dracula if the novel is not meant to be the historic figure having transformed into a vampire after death.
Yes, there were always details in the Dracula novel that did not quite match history but more of the content is accurate to the story of Vlad Dracula than what is contrary to it. Stoker wrote the novel in an era before Google when most of his intended readers had never heard of Vlad The Impaler so he knew he could take some liberties.
Don't get caught up in the hype. This book struggles to dismiss every reference to the Vlad the third history as "added later" just to have a contrary theory. It's not as sickening as the theory that Percy Shelley wrote Frankenstein and that Mary Shelley didn't have the talent or intellect to do it, but it is still an annoying theory, nonetheless because the gullible fall for it.
This book ignores mention of the battle on the Danube (historic fact), and the fact that Van Helsing himself said "This must indeed be the Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turks." There was only one such Dracula who won his name against the Turks.
Just because it's become popular to dismiss that the fiction was using the historic figure of Vlad Dracula as a vampire doesn't make it true. There was only one man in all of history who was a Voivode who won his name against The Turks and sgined his surname as Dracula and that was the man we today know as Vlad the Impaler.
Save yourself some trouble and read the excellent work "In Search of Dracula" instead or watch the documentary of the same name narrated by the legendary Christopher Lee who fancies himself a Dracula Historian and swears by In Search of Dracula as the behind the fiction book to rely upon. Not this.