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Authors: Hans Corneel de Roos
Title: Bram Stoker's Vampire Trap : Vlad the Impaler and his Nameless Double
Language: English
Volume: 15
Issue: 2

Since Bacil Kirtley in 1958 proposed that Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, the best known literary character ever, shared his historical past with the Wallachian Voivode Vlad III Dracula, an intense debate about this connection has developed and other candidates have been suggested, like the Hungarian General János Hunyadi – a proposal resurfacing in the most recent annotated Dracula edition by Leslie Klinger (2008). By close-reading Stoker’s sources, his research notes and the novel, I will demonstrate that Stoker’s narrative initially links his Count to the person of Vlad III indeed, not Hunyadi, although the novelist neither knew the ruler’s first name, nor his father’s name, nor his epithet “the Impaler”, nor the cruelties attributed to him.

Still – or maybe for this very reason – Stoker did not wish to uphold this traceable identity: In Chapter 25, shortly before the decisive chase, he removes this link again, by way of silent substitution, cloaked by Professor van Helsing’s clownish distractions. Like the Vampire Lord Ruthven, disappearing through the “vampire trap” constructed by James R. Planché for his play The Brides of the Isles in the English Opera House, later renamed to Lyceum Theatre and run by Stoker, the historical Voivode Vlad III Dracula is suddenly removed from the stage: In the final chapters, the Vampire Hunters pursue a nameless double.

Smoothly performed, this piece of stage magic has gone unnoticed for more than one hundred years now. As a consequence, most of the arguments related to the Count’s lifetime identity turn out to suffer from ignoratio delenchi (the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion). The “marriage” of Count Dracula and Vlad the Impaler needs no divorce, as filed for by Toronto Prof. Em. Elizabeth Miller in 1998: As Stoker revoked this bond before his book went to print, it was never consummated and can be annulled without much ado.

Publisher: Linköping University Electronic Press
Year: 2012
Available: 2012-03-21
No. of pages: 24
Series: Linköping Electronic Articles in Computer and Information Science
ISSN (online): 1401-9841
ISBN: 978-3-943559-00-2

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Last updated: 2017-02-21