Home > Uncategorized > Infinite Downshift – Infinite Jest to Dracula is like shifting from 5th to 1st at 75 mph without double-clutching

Infinite Downshift – Infinite Jest to Dracula is like shifting from 5th to 1st at 75 mph without double-clutching

Fellow Infinite-Zombie Daryl L.L. Houston sez “One of the things I’ll be looking for in the book is style vs. story.”

Infinite Jest to Dracula.  Style vs. story.  That’s some heavy lifting.

While I wouldn’t be too quick to relegate Dracula to the polite charms of the quasi-epistolary novel – and I don’t think Daryl is either – Stoker’s book is hardly the juggling act that Jest was.  Three – five major plot lines vs. one, maybe two.  A cast of some two dozen characters versus Dracula’s seven or eight.  And a post-modern/pre-apocalypse/fin-de-siecle author who set out to tell a story AND confound the mechanics of the modern novel in Wallace versus a guy who wanted to tell a good story in Stoker.  In short, it’s hard not to get caught up in a struggle of style v. story.

fussy chairsHowever, if I put myself in the fussy, uncomfortable, distinctly not-sensual seat of the Victorian reader, however, the style begins to make much more sense.  The epistolary novel – or a letter within standard novels –  has always been an ideal vehicle to expose a story through deliberate brush strokes, keeping both writer and recipient in the dark about the true nature of things.

And if, as Beresford asserts in his Demons to Dracula, Stoker’s story represented to first widely circulated telling of a story that combined folk tales from Eastern Europe, his audience wouldn’t have been as inculcated with the whole Vampire Thing as we are.  So the novel might end up reading like some sort of gothic horror strip tease, where one gruesome, erotic layer is removed at a time. Only instead of knowing what we, the collective Modern Reader, are going to see next, every letter exposes something new, thrilling and a tiny bit naughty.

“We are not amused,” Queen Victoria might have said of Stoker’s book.  “But We are intrigued and not a little titillated.”

About the Post Title: So I got caught up with 3 back episodes of “Top Gear” the weekend to clear off the DVR.  Sue me.

  1. October 5, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    This makes me wonder all of a sudden whether Dracula was a serialized novel in the tradition of Dickens or whether it all came out in one bound volume. A Victorian lit teacher I had back in college said that people would sometimes stop Dickens in the street and suggest directions for future installments of his books to go. Surely an epistolary novel would be well-suited to serialization, would be in a way mimetic of the way communication by mail actually goes. Also, there’s the tradition of the epistolary novel to consider. Weren’t Richardson’s first novels (his Pamela is generally considered the first novel, isn’t it?) more or less about coquettes and just the other sort of titillating things you point to here? (I haven’t read them, so I don’t know; it’s just my impression.)

  2. October 6, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    I believe it was published in one fell swoop rather than serially (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracula)

  3. October 20, 2014 at 3:41 am

    Wonderful items from you, man. I have remember your stuff previous
    to and you’re just too magnificent. I actually like what you’ve
    received right here, certainly like what you are stating and the way in which by which you assert it.
    You’re making it entertaining and you continue to care for to
    stay it smart. I can’t wait to read far more from you.
    That is actually a wonderful site.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: