Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones
cleolinda

I'm just gonna keep celebrating Halloween

Okay, so. I have talked about Dracula a number of times; I read it in middle school (with big glossy Greg Hildebrandt illustrations, no less) and wasn't ever quite the same afterwards, really enjoyed Leslie Klinger's annotated edition, so on and so forth. Short version: Actors reading Dracula on BBC Radio Ulster. The first four installments (fifteen minutes each) are up for about 20 hours more, so hurry on over there. Long version:


@kiwimouse: @cleolinda *cough* Michael Fassbender reads Dracula: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0170yjj Thought you might be interested.

[Where were all of you when this started running last Monday?!]

@cleolinda: We need to have more actors reading gothic novels. Someone get on this.

@particle_person: actorsreadinggothicnovels is totally a tumblr idea.

@cleolinda: +1 RT @herdivineshadow: If Richard Armitage read Frankenstein, I would actually sit through that monstrosity again

@particle_person: OMG, can you imagine Michael Emerson?

@cleolinda: Hm. Which book?

@particle_person: The Woman in White. I bet he’d be truly creepy with a romantic obsession.

@count_01: When my publishing empire grows only a few billions more, I will acquire the rights to every novel written between 1780 and 1840.

@cleolinda: But… there are no ri… I can sell them to you. I can totally, totally sell them to you.


Basically, it's a streamlined, abridged version (it would have to be), and they've got three actors on the job--Gillian Kearney for Mina, Michael Fassbender for Jonathan, and James D'Arcy for Seward (and thus also Renfield), although the false document/nested narrative nature of the book (diaries recounting monologues recounting dialogues, and so on) means that the actors are basically doing the voices for everyone who happens to wander through their particular stretch of POV. (Fortunately, no one does a wackadoo accent for Van Helsing, although they leave his lolcat grammar intact for a monologue Kearney earnestly delivers. "He make in the mirror no reflect!") This also means that there's no one actually assigned to Dracula--after all, he never gets anything from his own perspective. So the actors take two approaches to Dracula's lines, and--I am trying to say this delicately--Fassbender's is, uh, pleasantly traditional.


@cleolinda: Hey, thanks for looking into [a problem I was having with the player]. I have 23 hours now, apparently. Also: no one told me there would be a Dracula Accent. Hysterical.

@alliancesjr: Hahahahahahaha nice

@cleolinda: oh shit I can't stop laughing, it's just barely on the wrong side of the Count Chocula line

@alliancesjr: Ohgod. At least he's not counting.

@cleolinda: TEN LITTLE EPISODES, AH AH AHHHHHH

@cleolinda: It's like, nice soothing mellow actor voice, very nice, good times, I VELCOM YOO TO MY HOWZ.

@alliancesjr: That sounds like the BEST THING EVER ohmygod


PRETTY MUCH. But can you imagine how disappointed people would be if they turned on a Dracula reading and Dracula didn't sound like ~Dracula~ right off the bat? (OH MY GOD, "THE BAT." I am so sorry, that was not intentional.) So I'm not saying that Dracula Accents are a bad thing! It's just--you know! Really, I'm no one to talk, I'm the one who has this taped to the back of her bedroom door:





(The really interesting thing about hearing a book like this read out loud is that it's even more intense than it is on the page. Jonathan's being approached by the three vampire women and you're like, man, catch that subtext, y'all, the Victorians were repressed. You hear it read aloud and it's like... there is no subtext. It is all text.)

And then... there's James D'Arcy's take on the Dracula voice in Episode 8. OMG YOU GUYS. (Dig my critical literary voice. "omg!!1") Because Seward recounts Dracula's attack on Mina in the book, D'Arcy is the one who ends up performing Mina's big soliloquy about the incident--and, in turn, Dracula's dialogue within that. At first I was sitting there thinking, really? Are you sure you don't want to turn a Mina monologue over to Kearney for a moment? Except that then it is magnificent. I had come down with (another) giant migraine, so I curled up in bed with my laptop, and by the time we were at "Silence. If you make a sound, I shall dash his brains out before your very eyes," I was clawing at the mattress in giddy freakout. Dracula's lines come out in a serial killer's whisper, because, you guys: he is. This is pretty much why I love certain kinds of horror, I think--the moments that are terrific in all senses of the word, frightful and exciting and extraordinary and magnificent. Like, it's so blood-curdling that you feel a sense of joy at how good it is. In fact, the whole program relies on whispers rather than shouts; Renfield, of all characters, is wonderfully hushed on this same episode, and whispers are what make the early Jonathan installments so effective. "Is it then so near the end? Tomorrow... tomorrow."

There's actually two more episodes to go, running tomorrow and Tuesday, it sounds like (not that I'm sure when that is. Since the UK is several hours ahead and today was Daylight Saving Time for us, time has no meaning anymore). Also, someone please go make them put up Episode 6, I don't know why it's missing. And the end of Episode 7 is cut off, presumably because the previous program ran over and that's why there's a full minute of, like, Irish easy listening at the beginning instead. I think that's the one anyway; there's club music on another one--people, just please convince BBC Ulster to sell a clean copy of this somewhere, they will make so much money.


One of the reasons I mention this, though, is that I had a really dry, listless week of non-writing page-staring, and listening to this has made me feel a lot better. I think it's because Dracula is one of those books that makes me want to write, to feel like I can do this. There are some books that are so brilliant, you want to just give up; there are others that are so bad, you just grouse about how you could do so much better. But, true or not, even "I could do better" is more smug than productive. It's interesting to find books that are both good and inspiring, that are admirable without being intimidating. Books with some flaws but with great characters and stories tend to hit that mark for me, I think, and place a very engaging, approachable kind of greatness within reach: not perfect, but wonderful. Since a lot of people are doing NaNoWriMo at the moment, maybe that's a good question to ask: what books do that for you? No, seriously, tell me. I may need to read some of them.



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Tags: at least it's not twilight, book discussion, books, dracula, nanowrimo, writing
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