Monday, April 01, 2019

Makt Myrkanna

Powers of Darkness
Makt Myrkanna (Icelandic title)

Based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1897
Written by Valdimar Ásmundsson, 1901
Translated and annotated by Hans Corneel de Roos, 2017

Whew! This book took me on a strange trip into a more obscure part of the Dracula canon.

When Bram Stoker first published Dracula he made an effort to get it translated into as many languages as possible. Valdimar Ásmundsson was an Icelandic scholar who dabbled in many things literary. He evidently hit it off with Stoker and this was the result. Originally published in serial form, it was assembled into a book and subsequently reprinted in Icelandic a couple of times, it remained largely unknown to the English-speaking world for over a century. It has now been translated: with copious notes, a foreword by one of Stoker’s descendants, and even Bram Stoker’s original introduction.

None of this would matter much excepting that this book is quite different from the original English version; it is much sexier and is even more political—the Count comes across as sort of a 18th century Transylvanian Donald Trump. In another twist it has characters not in the Stoker book, but were in Stoker’s original notes! The first part of the story, with Harker in the castle, is greatly expanded, while the second part, with the Count in England, is merely sketched out.

I found it fascinating that Iceland, with a population of about 70,000 in 1901, could produce such a book. There is also a Swedish version! Who knows what other treasures await?

By Professor Batty


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