Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel ‘Dracula’ is extremely well-known and was the catalyst for the popularization and mass marketing of the myths and legends associated with vampirism. (1) It is commonly believed that Stoker took his inspiration for Dracula from Romania and more particularly the infamous fifteenth century Prince of Wallachia: Vlad Dracula (better known to my readers as Vlad the Impaler).
The reason for this assertion, commonly found in the popular literature on Dracula, is that we know Stoker was aware of Vlad the Impaler and had made copious notes on Romania and its history, which allowed him to write an absolute blockbuster of a Gothic horror novel. What this conventional narrative leaves out is that Stroker made far more notes based on his research on the occult and vampirism than on Vlad the Impaler and Romania. (2)
Also worth noting is that Stoker also set another vampire story, published slightly later than ‘Dracula’, called ‘The Wampyre Count’ set in Austrian Styria. (3) Clearly for Stoker then the vampire isn’t just linked to Romania.
The problem is that Count Dracula is not, as it happens, actually based on Vlad Dracula at all. (4)
Scholars, particularly those of Romanian origin, have long known and pointed out that Count Dracula is, if anything at all, very loosely based on Vlad Dracula. (5) As Belfort observed, the only thing that Count Dracula shares with his Vlad Dracula is his name. (6)
The real origin of Count Dracula is actually found in George du Maurier’s 1895 novel ‘Trilby’. (7)
The villain of ‘Trilby’, Svengali, is an Ashkenazi jew who seduces, dominates and exploits young, nubile European girls; exactly like Count Dracula. Dracula, just like Svengali, is cast as a ‘sinister foreign seducer’. (8)
This also jives with the oft suppressed fact that Stoker held overt racial nationalist opinions and regarded the world as being divided between the (European) master race and the subject races. (9) He also invoked racial nationalist rhetoric in his work, (10) while having, what can only be described as, strong anti-Semitic beliefs in regards to jews. (11)
Indeed, as Rebecca Stott has observed, (12) Stoker is a good example of the late Victorian intellectual advocate for the need to ‘patrol’ and tear out root and branch any racial or sexual degeneracy to ensure the health of the national body.
Therefore is it any wonder that Stoker would have taken a sinister alien jew, Svengali, as his model for the ultimate sinister creature of the night?
(1) Still by far the most complete (and readable) summaries of these legends are Montague Summers’, 1995, , ‘The Vampire’, 1st Edition, Senate: London and Montague Summers, 1996, , ‘The Vampire in Europe’, 1st Edition, Bracken: London
(2) Radu Florescu, Raymond McNally, 1989, ‘Dracula: Prince of Many Faces’, 1st Edition, Little, Brown and Company: Boston, p. 222
(3) Ibid, p. 230
(4) Ibid, p. 221
(5) Meirion Trow, 2003, ‘Vlad the Impaler’, 1st Edition, Sutton: Stroud, p. 241
(6) Barbara Belford, 1996, ‘Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of Dracula’, 1st Edition, Alfred Knopf: New York, pp. 259-260
(7) Ibid, p. 228
(9) Andrew Maunder, 2006, ‘Bram Stoker’, 1st Edition, Northcote: Tavistock, p. 83
(10) William Hughes, 2000, ‘Beyond Dracula: Bram Stoker’s Fiction and its Cultural Context’, 1st Edition, Palgrave: Basingstoke, p. 69
(11) Ibid, pp. 63; 68
(12) Cf. Rebecca Stott, 1992, ‘The Fabrication of the Late Victorian Femme Fatale’, 1st Edition, MacMillan: London