How ‘Dracula’ Daily Brought a Classic Back to Life
Who knew a fictional character from 1897 would totally get me?
After the brilliant advice from another TMS article by Alyssa Shotwell, I subscribed to the wonderful Substack Dracula Daily to read the novel in real-time. And I, along with a ton of people on the internet, am so happy this exists. For a quick summary, Dracula Daily is an automatic email list started by Matt Kirkland in 2021, making this the second real-time run-through of the novel. Each email contains a dated chapter of Dracula by Bram Stoker that corresponds to the current date. The first chapter arrived in our inboxes on May 3rd and Jonathan Harker now lives rent-free in my head 24/7.
Something about getting daily emails from Jonathan on his misadventures for work has captured the hearts of the internet. It is kind of funny that a book published in 1897 is getting a lot of new attention, new fan art, and memes, but it is surprisingly hilarious and relatable in our modern era. This is my third or fourth time reading Dracula, but it just hits differently now.
What We Do in Transylvania
One aspect of the horror novel that people interpret differently is an underlying comedic quality. Dracula gives heavy What We Do in the Shadows vibes. We find out during the novel that the wealthy Count Dracula doesn’t have any servants. He only pretends he has hired help while doing all the work himself. This means cooking full meals for Jonathan, making Jonathan’s bed, and attending to all other tasks for his guest.
I need entire comic strips devoted to a modern version of Dracula where Dracula learns to cook from the internet and Jonathan Harker writes food blogs about his encounter with the mysterious spice of paprika.
Jonathan Harker: A Relatable Influencer
Jonathan Harker serves as the primary narrator of the novel. As a brand new lawyer, his first job is to travel from England to Transylvania and close some real estate deals for the reclusive Count Dracula. He writes in his journal about his strange encounters, but he keeps going because adult life is weird.
We also keep doing our jobs during insane times. In a time when we go from environmental crises, pandemic shut-downs, and social unrest, Jonathan’s energy is so relatable. Jonathan doesn’t question the crucifixes given to him by several townspeople. Or the pack of wolves surrounding his carriage. What throws him into a crisis is Dracula’s castle door missing a knocker. I feel that on a personal level. I mean, maybe the crucifixes are a local custom, but what kind of weirdo doesn’t have a door knocker?
So far there have only been two narrators other than Jonathan—his fiancée Mina and her best lady-friend, Lucy. Their letters to each other feel almost modern too. Mina says she hasn’t written Lucy because work is stressing her out and she wished they could be by the sea together chatting it up (I swear I sent the same text to my BFF).
How do we live without you?
The biggest downside of participating in Dracula Daily is the days when no emails arrive. On those days, I am overtaken by deep sadness and a sense of anxiety. Is Jonathan okay? Why is he not texting back? Did something happen to his phone? We need to know what is going on over there!
However, I know others are feeling my pain, too. Reading the novel with complete strangers has created a strange sense of community among participants. There is a hive mind love of all things Dracula and it feels super cool to make such a connection with random people on the internet. Some have even suggested keeping the good time going with another piece of classic literature. I’m totally game.
I can’t wait to see the Tumblr reactions to the more…bitey parts of the book (and all the complicated gender roles and sexuality that go along with it). After wrapping the novel in November, we will all have to watch 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, starring Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, to end our journey together. What a great time to be obsessed with the undead. What a time to be alive.
(featured image: Columbia Pictures)
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