A New “Dracula” To Premiere on BBC/Netflix @TheConversationUK @TheConversationUS

The excellent site The Conversation offers Jordan Kistler’s essay on the BBC and Netflix’s update on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which will make its debut in early 2020. Writes Professor Kistler,  

Gothic fiction has always had the power to both respond to and transcend its own historical moment. Dracula can be said to be “about” a number of very specific social contexts of the mid-1890s – such as the political turmoil in the Transylvania region which followed the 1877 Russo-Turkish war. Yet, year after year people read and enjoy Dracula who have never heard of these political events.

This is because displacement is at the heart of Gothic literature’s cathartic function. Gothic fiction projects contemporary anxieties (the church, new science, the crumbling empire) onto supernatural monsters, allowing for a safe exploration of social and political fears. They are given embodied form – a villain that can be confronted, fought, and killed.

This displacement also allows Gothic works longevity past their own historical moment. Because these monsters are distanced from the actual source of anxiety that may have inspired them, they can be reinterpreted by subsequent generations to represent any number of anxieties.

She discusses a number of past interpretations of the character throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century, which take us through cultural upheavals, though surprisingly not Louis Jourdan’s, frankly my favorite. 

The three-part BBC/Netflix Dracula stars Claes Bang (The Girl in the Spider’s Web) as Count Dracula, John Heffernan (Luther) as the solicitor Jonathan Harker, and Mark Gatiss (Sherlock Holmes), and premieres in early 2020.