So a couple months back I found this academic book, Reading the Vampire by Ken Gelder, at a used bookstore for six bucks. I picked it up with the intent to read it and send it to a friend who likes this kinda stuff more than me (shout out to Leigh, if you’re reading this). That book’s discussion of Dracula and the introduction of “Buda-Pesth” as opposed to “Budapest” brought me down an interesting rabbit hole about the city and how it’s kind of two cities and there’s a lot of local baggage about it—look it up if you’re into that. John Harker doesn’t care about any of this, leading me to believe he’s a basic bitch, but I suppose he is just spying on it from the train so maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh. Checking on the modern Anglicizations makes me feel less like white colonialist scum.
John Harker, a straight-up dude, makes sure to lay out a simplistic ethnic diversity of the area, but also notes that “I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians”, which appeals to me very much. I would like to go there.
I did not sleep well, though my bed was comfortable enough, for I had all sorts of queer dreams.
Harker doesn’t tell us about his dreams but considering the nature of this Let’s Read, I think it’s necessary to have a laugh here at linguistic evolution. He does instead say that red paprika peppers are making him very thirsty, which I don’t understand. Is this poor boy so white that he thinks red peppers are spicy?
The women looked pretty, except when you got near them […]
Eh, Dracula can kill this guy. I won’t mind. He also proceeds to insult the fashion of some Slovakian men by being really racist, which I suppose is something I’m going to have to deal with in this novel.
John makes it from Munich to Bistrița with a stop in Cluj-Napoca (he uses the German names for these places; Bistritz and Klausenberg). He gawks at the locals a bit and when he arrives in Cluj-Napoca he gets a letter from Dracula marking the remainder of his journey to Bukovina. While Dracula Daily says that John is taking this trip “for work,” the writing is very affectionate and I want to assume that he’s actually coming to hook up with this dude that he met on an internet forum, or perhaps while playing World of Warcraft.
Of course Harker has already mentioned a woman, Mina, who he wants to get recipes for so she can slave in the kitchen for his benefit, but what happens in Transylvania stays in Transylvania.
The folks who run the hotel where John is staying suddenly flip out and have a change of heart, begging him not to go to Dracula’s castle because the 5th is St George’s Day, where all kinds of evil shit gets up to no good.
(Side note: I do a lot of work on manga and I remember reading one, I think it was The Ancient Magus’ Bride, that remarked on how seasons of ghosts and the dead change depending on the culture. In Japan, it’s summer. In Ireland, it’s fall, along with everyone else who picked up celebrating Halloween I assume. Is it spring in Romania? That’s cool! Though Stoker didn’t actually go to Romania to research this novel he seems to have done some homework but if he’s taking me for a ride on this I guess I deserve it.)
Anyway, this nice old lady begs him to stay and he refuses, because “there’s business to be done,” by which of course I’m sure he means hooking up with this sugar daddy on the internet before he ties the knot for good (the other kind of knot, you perverts! <3). The lady kindly gives him a crucifix for protection before sending him on his way. The whole thing leaves John shook, but butterflies before a hook-up are totally normal John, just have a few schnapps or whatever and you’ll be fine.