Travelling in Time and Space in Literature in English
“Enter freely and of your own will”: Invitations, travel and trauma in Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Simon Bacon, Independent Researcher, Poznan
Simon Bacon, Independent Researcher, Poznań
In the centenary year of Bram Stoker’s death, 2012, this paper proposes to read Dracula a book about movement—it begins as a tourist guide to Romania and continues with a metaphysical detective pursuing his prey between London and Northern England; and ends in a frantic chase to the death back across Europe. The book’s dramatic thrust is predicated upon travel and the changes it makes upon the one who has undertaken the journey, and the continuing consequences of those changes. Travel in Stoker’s world should never be lightly undertaken as it inevitably has dramatic, even traumatic, results. More importantly, the act of travelling within the narrative is not initiated by a sense of exploration or conquest but by that of the welcoming invitation. As such, it can be seen to be that of the host warmly welcoming a guest into their home and hearth. To show how this might work in Dracula I shall use Jacques Derrida’s notion of hospitality. In his book he postulates the idea of “perfect hospitality” where the Host gives him/her self totally to their Guest, so much so that the Guest actually becomes the Host. Applying this to Stoker’s novel, one arrives at a very different reading of its motivations and possible meanings. On closer inspection, one sees that it is not the invitation extended to the vampire that proves so destructive and traumatic within the text but the other way round. This paper...
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