Tag Archives: Victorian

Dracula’s Descendant Brings New Tales

stoker-2L-book-areaFinally after a hundred-plus years there is another Dracula book, a sequel; Dracula: The Un-Dead. (Dutton Books, $26.95 USD) You might be wondering how this is significant as there have been many Dracula books and even more vampire books, a subgenre all of its own. Well this one is different, written supposedly by Bram Stoker’s  great grandnephew, Dacre Stoker. In the family tree end of things this is Bram’s brother’s son’s son’s son.

Bram had a fair number of siblings (6) and it doesn’t seem that all of them wrote, nor any of them achieved his notoriety. But there is this penchant in fiction these days for the descendants of great writers to suddenly lift the pen and write a sequel to a story, as if the blood that ran in the veins of a great writer has been distilled down the decades to make more creative geniuses. If this were indeed the case, it would be a surprise that anyone took up any other profession but the successful careers of their parents: lawyers begetting lawyers, painters begetting painters, murderers begetting murderers.

But of course we have individualism and of course there is no guarantee that a relative will have the same talent as their ancestor. Yet we’ve seen sequels to Dune written by Brian Herbert, to Lord of the Rings by a Tolkien relative, to a few other great names with relatives getting involved. And sometimes there have been sequels but not by a writer’s descendants but someone else given free rein in the established territory (the sequel to Gone With the Wind for example).  Yet the publishing world loves its marketing gimmicks as much as any big business. And maybe it helps…for selling.

However, I’ve not read the book yet because it’s was launched Oct. 13, a nice spooky date, coinciding with the Hallowe’en month and the unlucky number of 13. When you look at the cover you see that it is written by Dacre Stoker (large letters) and Ian Holt (smaller font). Check out the bios for Stoker and Holt, you will see that Stoker is a past world class athlete and executive director of the Aiken Land Conservancy, a Canadian citizen living in the US. Holt, on the other hand is a writer, who (surprise surprise) has written previous Dracula based novels and screenplays. Just like the books that William Shatner has supposedly written it will be a case of maybe Stoker supplied a few ideas and Holt did the writing, knowing he’d have the Stoker name to pull in the sales. A sweet deal all in all.

From the website’s own pages http://www.draculatheundead.com/index.htm:

Dracula The Un-Dead is a bone-chilling sequel based on Bram Stoker’s own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition. Written with the blessing and cooperation of Stoker family members, Dracula The Un-Deadbegins in 1912, twenty-five years after Dracula “crumbled into dust.” Van Helsing’s protégé, Dr. Jack Seward, is now a disgraced morphine addict obsessed with stamping out evil across Europe. Meanwhile, an unknowing Quincey Harker, the grown son of Jonathan and Mina, leaves law school for the London stage, only to stumble upon the troubled production of “Dracula,” directed and produced by Bram Stoker himself.

 The play plunges Quincey into the world of his parents’ terrible secrets, but before he can confront them he experiences evil in a way he had never imagined.  One by one, the band of heroes that defeated Dracula a quarter-century ago is being hunted down.  Could it be that Dracula somehow survived their attack and is seeking revenge? Or is their another force at work whose relentless purpose is to destroy anything and anyone associated with Dracula?

 Stoker’s characters had Victorian sensibilities and not so shadowy personalities as this sequel seems to indicate. But like all those comics with the dead superheroes that somehow get resurrected, perhaps Dracula is back. Or maybe not. I won’t be rushing out to read this and it will be up to each person to make their own decision as to how good a Dracula story it is. I just don’t place any faith in a descendant carrying the torch of former writing glory even if supposedly this is from some notes of Stoker’s. Of course, those notes could be as simple as: Dracula=evil, Harker=just and good, Mina=corrupted by evil. I’d love to see what these notes were and having those published in a book could be far more entertaining.

And of course, it’s no surprise this book is being looked at to make a movie. In fact, it started as a screenplay idea and then supposedly Dacre said it was best to start as a novel. More revenues no doubt. As to what Stoker thought of himself as a character in a Dracula sequel and whether or not he’ll be rolling in his grave? Well, we’ll just have to sit beside the mausoleum where his ashes are and keep the garlic away to find out.

http://io9.com/5361879/bram-stokers-descendant-pens-official-dracula-sequel

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Glasgow and the Kelvingrove Museum

Ireland 2007–Glasgow Museum

I have now hit the last of the Irish photos from Fall 2007 and these are the last of the trip spent in Glasgow on the way home. I’d love to write more on Ireland but that will take another trip and if anyone is willing to send me, I’ll gladly go. 🙂 But my other travels will now be more local.

 

Our lovely trip to Ireland ended and on Monday morning we flew back to Glasgow to Will and Erin’s place, wonderful people to put us up in their wee flat. I think my sister and I were a bit dragged out and didn’t really do more that snooze until they got home. If I recall Erin was still in Iceland(?) that night.

The next day we trundled off with directions and map, taking the bus to the Kelvingrove Museum . It was a cold day and just as well as a transition out of Ireland. Ireland seemed cozier and smaller (and warmer!). Glasgow’s a pretty large modern city. Even Dublin held more of a sense of age. So in a way it was good to transition back to Vancouver.

I had last been in Glasgow many many years before, when I was nineteen, and my friend and I stayed only one night. I don’t remember a lot except that it fit the dirty old town image of the time. It was one reason we didn’t stay that long.

The museum was interesting. We walked along a few streets past part of the older sections of the university. A foot and car bridge had massive statues of men and women, dressed in clothing of different eras and doing different things. Ships, books, rope, sewing, etc., various occupations. The day itself was a bit chilly and overcast. The good weather we had been graced with in Ireland had ended.

The museum was in some ways much like museums everywhere, except they’re free in Scotland and Ireland. What a great idea that is. There was a section on indigenous wildlife, including all the extinct indigenous wildlife that had once roamed Scotland’s hills. Humans have wiped out so many species and it continues. It’s sad to see that. If we could learn to populate less, farm/hunt more efficiently and in a renewable way, we might exist another thousand years but I’m having my doubts right now. The first floor was natural history plus sculptures, early Egypt and other works of art.

The second floor was mostly paintings. There were some interesting paintings and sculptures in the museum too. The small section on women’s early subjugation and suffragette movements was eye opening. I knew there were a lot of “Victorian” inventions with things like the chastity belt and that any earlier versions have never been found. If I was exploring this farther I’d want to know more of the history and dating of the objects.

The Art Nouveau/Deco section and the stuff on Charles Rennie MacIntosh, Scotland’s darling, were wonderful. I’m very partial to Art Nouveau so spent a lot of time there drooling on things. And of course seeing the jacket from hmm, what era, the Reformation, the 17th century was cool as the only piece of clothing I saw there. It was white doe skin/leather, with perfect stitching, and the bullet hole and blood of the guy who got shot while wearing it. I think there might have been a bit of museum that I missed.

After, we wandered around Glasgow and had the most awful Scottish-Mexican food. A breaded cheeseball with salsa. Potatoes with salsa. My sister got glutened so it added trips to the loo. She’s a celiac and any touch of the stuff causes a reaction. This was a direct difference to Ireland where everyone seemed to know what a celiac was. We got lost trying to find our way back to my friends’ mostly because it turned out there were two buses with the same name but they went different places. We eventually found our way to our abode and the next day we were on to Canada.

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Machine Animals and Giants

Nantes, Machine de L'ile, machine animals, Jules Vernes

The Sea Diver is about 30 feet tall and was looking for his lost niece. Photo by misterstf flickr

I seriously want to go to Nantes. Where is that? Good question. I didn’t know until a few months ago but then I’m not the biggest brain on geography, especially if I haven’t been there. When I saw an article on a giant spider that was built there, it piqued my interest. Nantes (pronounced nont)  is a tiny place in France, well, relatively so with a population of about 800,000 and sits on the Loire River. It is famed for being an important historic city in Brittany and being the birthplace of Jules Verne.

Maybe Verne’s fertile bed of great imagination, he who was pretty much the father of science fiction, left a seed of creativity that continues to grow. For Nantes is a place of magic. Giants have been seen on the streets and enormous sea creatures are being born. In fact, these creatures have toured to other cities. Marionettes (first the Little Giantess and of late the Sea Diver) as tall as 9 meters have walked the streets. Elephants, spiders and squids of enormous sizes have also been seen.

These animals are like animatronics and marionettes and most of all, amazing works of art. Made of wood, with moving parts and very lifelike in proportions and expressions (except always larger) they are creations of Royal de Luxe and Les Machines de L’ile. The first is a theatrical group that does street theatre and was first conceived in 1979. The pictures of the giant awaking show the scope of the piece and the crew required to move the marionette through the streets. How does one manipulate the “strings” of a 30-foot puppet? By having scaffolding that is even higher.

These amazing pieces are made of wood for the main sculptural elements but various mechanisms and hydraulics are added for the functionality. The related company, Les Machines de L’ile is a factory in Nantes where the creatures are created. La Machine is the performance company that takes the shows on the road, such as in Japan or London where the giant 50-foot spider, La Princesse, crawled through the streets.

François Delarozière is the main designer of the pieces but it takes a large crew to fabricate each sculpture and of course many people to run it. Royal de Luxe’s people all dress in costume, adding to the out of time and place feel. Weighing in at over two tons for the giant or 40 some tons for the Sultan’s Elephant, these works are not cheap to make. They come in at millions of pounds (or Euros), moneys brought about through different cultural mandates, and free to the public. (Indeed one would have to close their eyes to miss seeing these grandiose creatures.)

Some would call these sculptures steampunk, that genre of science fiction that emulates an earlier period of the Industrial Revolution, often in Victorian times, where brass, levers, pneumatic tubes, punch cards, steam and alternative methods of locomotion are the norm. And indeed, there is an essence of otherworldly or of a bordering time that the pieces bring about. The diver harkens back to Verne’s novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and is the star of the Estuary Festival, a big thing for Nantes, a long-time shipping port.

Although some critics consider these performance art affairs to be a waste of money I think they are an awesome statement of humankind’s imagination. If we were only to turn our minds to more events of this magnitude and less on how to maim, subjugate or denigrate others, then in truth we would live in a magical world. I would love to see such works as these performed in North America. Jules Verne began reaching into the great unknown of what-if in a different way. The artists of La Machine and Royal de Luxe keep that magic alive.

Royal de Luxe’s Giant in Nantes: http://www.socyberty.com/Folklore/A-Giant-Awakes-in-Nantes.763695

Les Machines de L’Ile: http://www.lesmachines-nantes.fr/english/

Le Princesse in Japan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACH3leVMFIU

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