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The New Annotated Dracula (The Annotated Books) Hardcover – October 17, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Klinger brings the same impressive breadth of knowledge that distinguished The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes to this definitive examination of one of the classic horror novels of all time. Adopting the conceit that Stoker's narrative is based on fact, Klinger elucidates the plot and historical context for both Stoker devotees and those more familiar with Count Dracula from countless popular culture versions. Because he had privileged access to the typescript Stoker delivered to his publisher, Klinger is able to note changes between it and the first edition and comment on the reasons for them. Through close reading, Klinger raises questions about such matters as the role of lead vampire-hunter Van Helsing and whether the villainous count is actually dispatched at book's end. An introduction by Neil Gaiman, numerous illustrations, essays on topics ranging from Dracula in the movies to the academic response, and much more enhance the package. 8-city author tour. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Leslie S. Klinger’s great virtue as an editor is his sublimely willful and scrupulous disregard for the boundary between historical fact and literary falsehood. In The New Annotated Dracula, he reprises the same earlier annotated Sherlock Holmes, treating Stoker’s novel as nonfiction: real events happening to real persons. After a brief preface in which he explains his trick, Klinger’s edition becomes a surreal treat, book’s succession of journal entries and letters.”
“This is a book every serious reader of the horror genre should have on his or her shelf. You will read Dracula with new eyes. Fascinating!”
- Stephen King
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Klinger's conceit of treating the story as "real" and explaining the plot holes, questionable actions, and the rather abrupt ending as attempts to conceal the "truth" that Dracula is in fact still around and that other characters are his co-conspirators makes the book, for me, much more palatable and interesting. I agree with the issues that Klinger identifies and find his explanations imaginative and helpful in getting me through the book without being bothered by the ridiculousness of some of the episodes. I know that some other reviewers find this conceit disturbing, but they seem to have a much higher opinion of the original than I do. (I did find that this conceit in his Annotated Sherlock Holmes to be not so successful. But it did not become as unbearable and obsessive as in Baring-Gould's annotated Holmes.)
Insofar as to the number of annotations that some other reviewers object to, Klinger belongs to the Martin Gardner school of annotating. In "The Annotated Alice", Gardner stated that he felt there are no bounds as to what can be annotated or how far afield from the story an annotator can go. Anything that the annotator feels is interesting and informative is fair game. This leads to a high density of annotations. As in any annotated book of this nature, there are times when one can wonder why the editor bothered to annotate an item, why some things were not annotated, some annotations that go into too much detail and some that don't go into enough detail. No annotated book that I have read is ideal. (One thing that I liked about Gardner's Alice is that he encouraged readers to submit comments and bring to his attention material and sources. He was fortunate that there were several editions of the Annotated Alice which allowed him to include updates.)
Gardner also had an extensive introduction with information such as biographical information about Lewis Carroll, his milieu, the family (and the particular sister) that helped inspire Carroll, the specific events which lead to the story, its publication and reception. All this has been the template for the volumes in the Norton Annotated series, including this one. (I highly recommend Gardner's "The Annotated Hunting of the Snark" in this series.)
A reader's reaction to all this depends on the reader. Some really like this approach, some don't, others are somewhat in between. I really like it. I want to know everything (well, just about everything) about the original. I feel that it brings new insights and dimensions to the book. Klinger does that in this book as well as his other volumes in this series. What may matter most here is that prospective readers have an idea in advance what to expect.
There are times when I agree with reviewers that the annotations get in the way. However, I can ignore them if I choose. That's what I like. The material is there and I can go through it as I wish, or not. It's my choice.
In conclusion, I feel that this edition is very worthwhile and adds to a reader's understanding of Dracula.
For example: Did you know that staking a vampire just immobilizes it?
This is a must have for every vampire fan.