Will you be joining us for Book Club this May? It’s free for both Intrepid English members and non-members!
Our pick for May’s Book Club is Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror, Dracula.
May is a special month to read this book because Dracula was originally released 125 years ago – on the 26th of May 1897.
Keen (adj) having or showing eagerness or enthusiasm.
Folklore (noun) the traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth.
Copious (adj) a large quantity/a lot.
Revolves (verb) treat as the most important element.
Bram Stoker was a keen researcher and when he read Emily Gerard’s The Land Beyond the Forest, a book of Transylvanian folklore, he took copious notes. Gerard was a Scottish writer, born in Airdrie and it was she who introduced Stoker to the evil vampire with garlic atop his coffin. You can read more about her influence here.
In addition to this, Stoker visited libraries, took out a copy of The Accounts of Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia by William Wilkinson, strolled to the Whitby Museum to continue his research through maps, then down to Whitby Harbour where he interviewed members of the Royal Coast Guard. All of this, so he would create an authentic, rich experience. You can read more about Stoker’s research here.
But what is the book about? Well, for those of you that don’t know, Dracula is an epistolary novel – which is a book made of letters, diary entries and newspaper articles. Today, we might call this found material or found footage.
The plot revolves around an English solicitor named Jonathan Harker who is travelling to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania at the start of the novel. He intends to meet the old count and assist him in buying a home in London. But what Jonathan discovers inside the castle is beyond any horror he could’ve imagined – the original vampire set on spreading his plague of death and blood.
I’ve always loved Dracula. For me, it was not just a Gothic horror novel but an adventure story, a road movie full of different avenues. It offered discussions of hope, loyalty, good and evil, right and wrong and yet discussed the space in between those two binaries. Asked us, what is evil anyway?
These are just a few of the topics we will discuss in Book Club. The class is 60 minutes long and structured around reading a chapter (or a few pages, depending on length), discussing vocabulary and sharing our thoughts about what we’ve read.
So, for the four Wednesdays of May, in Book Club we’ll be travelling to Transylvania, armed with garlic and stakes and fierce hearts.
The Book Club dates are:
Wednesday 4th May at 10am (UTC)
Wednesday 11th May at 10am (UTC)
Wednesday 18th May at 10am (UTC)
Wednesday 25th May at 10am (UTC)
And you can book a seat by clicking the link below.
For those of you that do not have access to a physical copy of the book, here’s a free version on The Gutenberg Project which you can use during the lessons.
Here are some of the questions we’ll be discussing in the class:
- How do you feel about the way the novel is written?
- How would you describe Jonathan Harker?
- What are your first impressions of Dracula’s castle?
- How would you describe Count Dracula upon first meeting him?
- What warning signs is Bram Stoker using?
I also wanted to share this incredibly interesting article about Bram Stoker. When he wrote it, he wanted people to see it as a ‘true story’. Read the whole story here.
This content was written and recorded by Intrepid English Teacher Thomas.
You can find out more about Thomas on his Intrepid English Teacher Profile Page.
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