Tuesday, May 25, 2010
In the Footsteps of Dracula
The first vampire in literature, Count Dracula, has fascinated millions of people around the world for well over a century. The subject of books, movies, animated films, festivals, and all things gothic – Dracula is omnipresent in the world of darkness. For all those who are curious to learn about the source of Bram Stoker’s timeless character, travel writer Steven P. Unger has recently published In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide (World Audience Publishers, 2010). The book includes Count Dracula’s history, a travel guide to the sites of his origin, and an abundance of photographs of remarkable scenes and places relating to Dracula, all based on the writer’s own travels to Romania and parts of Britain.
Historically, as Unger tells us, Count Dracula’s character is based on the Transylvanian Prince Vlad Tepes – or Vlad The Impaler – who is generally remembered for the torturous practice of impaling thousands of people to death during his rule over part of Transylvania (modern-day Romania) in the 15th Century. After reading this book, one comes to know the history of Vlad Dracula (as he was also called), particularly the difference between legends and facts, which have merged in the cult literature woven around Prince Dracula’s character over the past six centuries.
It is interesting to learn from Unger’s book that Bram Stoker himself never visited Transylvania. Instead, the gothic settings in Dracula (the novel) are modeled on British architecture of the time, blended, in his imagination, with descriptions of Transylvania as recorded by a British diplomat in 1820. Most of the novel was written in Whitby (England), and Unger shows the relevant sites in original pictures that impart the sensation of being present in the authentic world of horror history.
The latter part of the book is a concise travel guide to Romania and to a few places in Britain relating to Count Dracula, Prince Vlad the Impaler, and Bram Stoker. Steven P. Unger has taken care to include important guidelines for the independent traveler on topics including modes of transportation, money, health and security, lodging, restaurants, and more. In the Footsteps of Dracula is a portable guide to one of the darkest characters in the world of gothic literature and to his historical counterpart, Prince Vad Dracula the Impaler. Anyone thinking of traveling to Europe should not miss taking along this absorbing, helpful book.