Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla: Bram Stoker’s Inspiration for Dracula

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla: Bram Stoker’s Inspiration for Dracula

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Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla: Bram Stoker’s Inspiration for Dracula


“3 May. Bistritz. Left Munich at 8:35 p.m.” Abraham Stoker in this unassuming way begins his Gothic masterpiece, Dracula (The Annotated Dracula 1). Dracula has been called ‘imaginative’ and ‘original.’ , and Harry Ludlam calls it “the product of his own vivid imagination and imaginative research” (Senf 41). However, the originality of Stoker's Dracula is in doubt. By a similarity in the setting, characters and plot, in Bram Stoker’s Gothic work Dracula and the posthumously published short story “Dracula’s Guest,” Stoker is shown to have used Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic, Gothic, short story, “Carmilla”, as the basis and inspiration for Bram Stoker’s vampiric masterpiece, Dracula.

In 1897, Abraham Stoker published Dracula, a classic Gothic novel which continues to capture the hearts and imaginations of readers after nearly a century. The novel is written as a collection of journals, which are kept in a wide array of methods, letters and newspaper clippings. Dracula opens in Eastern Europe with a young solisitor named Jonathan Harker traveling to Transylvanian castle. The castle’s owner, Count Dracula, is cruel in the manner of great evil, and uses Harker to have himself safely ferried to England and its fertile hunting ground of London. Dracula soon becomes embroiled in the lives of a small group of friends who see him for the fiend that he is. These young people, aided by the aging Dr. Van Helsing vow to see Dracula destroyed, and they succeed in driving him out of England and back to his homeland. They follow hard upon and catch him just before he reaches the safety of his castle. Within sight of safety, Jonathan Harker and Quency Morris behea...


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...cula: The Vampire and the Critics. Ed. Margaret L. Carter. Studies in Speculative Fiction 19. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1988. 231-45.

Leatherdale, Clive. Dracula: The Novel and The Legend. Wellingborough: Aquarian, 1985.

Le Fanu, James Sheridan. “Carmilla.” Vampires: Two Centuries of Great Vampire Stories. Ed. Alan Ryan. Garden City: Doubleday, 1987.

Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. Detroit: Visible Ink, 1994.

Senf, Carol A. Introduction. The Critical Response to Bram Stoker. Ed. Carol A. Senf. Westport: Greenwood, 1993. 1-41.

Stoker, Bram. The Annotated Dracula. Ed. Leonard Wolf. New York: Ballantine, 1975.

---. “Dracula’s Guest.” Vampires: Two Centuries of Great Vampire Stories. Ed. Alan Ryan. Garden City: Doubleday, 1987.

Roth, Phyllis A. Bram Stoker. Twayne’s English Authors Series 343. Boston: Twayne, 1982.

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