Who is Dracula’s Father? – John Sutherland

Some years ago, I enjoyed a couple of books by John Sutherland which took a look at unanswered questions from popular novels and attempted to answer them. It was all done with a light touch and plenty of humour. It’s been quite a while since I looked at them, but my memory was refreshed in Waterstones on Sunday, when I noticed shiny new paperbacks of a couple of Sutherland’s books and an even shinier and newer hardback taking the same approach to a single 19th century novel: Dracula by Bram Stoker.

I was almost tempted to get it then and there, but a quick check showed that the Kindle version was half the price, so that’s the one I got.

The last time I talked about Dracula was when I was fresh from enjoying Leslie Klinger’s Annotated Dracula, which took the approach of treating the novel as a possibly distorted telling of historical events, which might be silly, but is great fun and to be encouraged.

This book, by contrast, goes for a literary approach, working from the text, other documents and a good dose of speculation to answer all the questions you never thought to ask, such as:

  • What colour is Dracula’s moustache?
  • Who washes Dracula’s pinafore?
  • Why are Dracula’s palms hirsute?

And, as they say, many more. Like the earlier books, it’s all done with wit, charm and err, some other good things.

And if you’ve never got around to reading the novel, salvation is at hand, as there’s a bonus item included: an only slightly irreverent summary written by John Crace. It’s funnier if you are familiar with the original, but should work even if you’re not.

So, if you like a bit of literary detective work, and the occasional chuckle, you might just enjoy this. I certainly did.

Now I’ll have to find my old John Sutherland books and re-read them.

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