The current month being October I am naturally more sensitive than usual to “ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put together” and, searching for an appropriate subject to examine for an illustration, found myself inevitably gravitating towards one of the single most inspirational characters and stories that began haunting my fascination so long ago I must have entered this world with it already tenanted in my brain. "Dracula," by Bram Stoker, is a listing, beautiful novel with waves of intense horror rising throughout the epistolary narrative like impatient heartbeats and its clout as a classic of gothic literature leaves no mystery as to the reason. There are many captivating examples of the un-dead throughout fiction's history, such as John Polidori’s Lord Ruthven or Varney the Vampire from the infamous Penny Dreadfuls, though none have claimed the superiority that Dracula has silently for over a century. In the story, Stoker's description of Dracula’s appearance suggests something quite grotesque and horrifying as opposed to the suave and aristocratic gentleman Bela Lugosi popularized in Tod Browning’s film version which, as Karloff did for Frankenstein’s monster, gave Count Dracula a face and dialect of iconic significance. I admire both versions of Dracula – the original plague-like monster of Stoker’s masterpiece, as well as the baroque, tuxedoed charmer Lugosi presented on stage and film. The illustration following was done with an effort to flatter the former, and was suggested by a particularly chilling point nearing the end of the first chapter of the novel when the coachman transporting Jonathan Harker entreats him to go on with the others to Bukovina, but was cut short by the arrival of Count Dracula’s caleche…
“…They were driven by a tall man, with a long brown beard and a great black hat, which seemed to hide his face from us. I could only see the gleam of a pair of very bright eyes, which seemed red in the lamplight, as he turned to us.
He said to the driver:
"You are early tonight, my friend." The man stammered in reply:
"The English Herr was in a hurry." To which the stranger replied:
"That is why, I suppose, you wished him to go on to Bukovina. You cannot deceive me, my friend. I know too much, and my horses are swift." As he spoke he smiled, and the lamplight fell on a hard-looking mouth, with very red lips and sharp-looking teeth, as white as ivory. One of my companions whispered to another the line from Burger's "Lenore".
"Denn die Todten reiten Schnell."
("For the dead travel fast.")
The strange driver evidently heard the words, for he looked up with a gleaming smile. The passenger turned his face away, at the same time putting out his two fingers and crossing himself.”
- Bram Stoker
Above this and below the illustration is an excerpt from the novel "Dracula," by Bram Stoker.