Though Stoker did not invent vampires - and in fact based his character's life-in-death on extensive research into European folklore - his novel elevated the nocturnal monster to iconic stature, spawning a genre of stories and movies which flourishes to this day. A century of imitation has done nothing to diminish its power. As the suave and chilling Count stalks his prey from a crumbling castle in the Carpathians to a lunatic asylum in Purfleet and the bedrooms of his swooning female victims, the drama builds to a fever pitch of sensuality and suspense. "Dracula" is not only a classic of Gothic horror and a wellspring of modern mythology: it is also irresistible entertainment.
Dracula is one of the few horror books to be honored by inclusion in the Norton Critical Edition series. (The others are Frankenstein, The Turn of the Screw, Heart of Darkness, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Metamorphosis.) This 100th-anniversary edition includes not only the complete authoritative text of the novel with illuminating footnotes, but also four contextual essays, five reviews from the time of publication, five articles on dramatic and film variations, and seven selections from literary and academic criticism. Nina Auerbach of the University of Pennsylvania (author of Our Vampires, Ourselves) and horror scholar David J. Skal (author of Hollywood Gothic, The Monster Show, and Screams of Reason) are the editors of the volume. Especially fascinating are excerpts from materials that Bram Stoker consulted in his research for the book, and his working papers over the several years he was composing it. The selection of criticism includes essays on how Dracula deals with female sexuality, gender inversion, homoerotic elements, and Victorian fears of "reverse colonization" by politically turbulent Transylvania.