Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fortnightly Book, October 27

For this fortnightly book I will be doing a re-read of Bram Stoker's Dracula, first published in 1897, when the Irish-born theater manager was fifty years old. It was his fifth novel, although by that time he had also written a book of fairy tales and a fair amount of nonfiction. One interesting tidbit about the book: when the manuscript for it, long thought to be lost, was discovered in the 1980s, the title on it was "The Un-Dead"; the famous title, which it is difficult to imagine it without today, seems to have been placed on it when it was ready to be printed.

The Heritage Press edition of Dracula that I have has a three-piece binding with black and blood red; the typesetting is in Monotype Perpetua, and there are thirty-two wood-engravings by Felix Hoffmann.

Since I've been on a radio kick, I will also (assuming I have time) re-listen to the version of Dracula put on by The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It is not their most famous episode -- that will be for my next Radio Greats post -- but it does have the distinction of being their very first, airing on July 11, 1938.

And just because it's worth reminding ourselves that the man thought about more than monsters (and it is part of the reason why Stoker's Dracula manages to be richer in symbolism and human appeal than almost any of its imitators), here's a poem by Bram Stoker:

The One Thing Needful
by Bram Stoker

In Martha's house the weary Master lay,
Spent with his faring through the burning day.
The busy hostess bustled through the room
On household cares intent, and at His feet
The gentle Mary took her wonted seat.
Soft came His words in music through the gloom.

Cumbered about much serving Martha wrought--
Her sister listening as the Master taught--
Till something fretful an appeal she made:
"Doth it not matter that on me doth fall
The burden; Mary helpeth not at all?
Master, command her that she give me aid."

"Ah, Martha, Martha! Thou are full of care,
And many things thy needless trouble share."
Thus with the love that chides the Master spake:
"One thing alone is needful. That good part
Hath Mary chosen from her loving heart;
And that part from her shall I never take."


One thing alone we lack. Our souls, indeed,
Have fiercer hunger than the body's need.
Ah, happy they that look in loving eyes.
The harsh world round them fades. The Master's Voice
In sweetest music bids their souls rejoice
And wakes an echo there that never dies.

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