It's been 125 years since its first publication, but Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” has taken the internet by storm. This cultural resurgence is due to Matt Kirkland’s Dracula Daily, a newsletter delivering the classic tale to subscribers’ email inboxes.
The original, 1897 version of “Dracula” was told in epistolary format with the novel’s plot presented through dated journal entries, letters and telegrams. Each day, subscribers to Dracula Daily receive messages as the novel unfolds in real time. If there’s no action on that date, then no email is sent.
The story begins on May 3, with newly certified English solicitor Jonathan Harker describing his travels to visit his mysterious client in Transylvania. The format gives the impression of a hapless travel blog as Harker collects Eastern European recipes while ignoring the sobbing peasants pressing crucifixes into his hand. Cultural differences, am I right?
For modern readers, many sections play out like a comedy. One of my favorite instances is when Dracula, trying to maintain the pretense he has human servants, has to secretly clear away dinner before Harker returns. The vampire’s decision to read English railway timetables to appear nonchalant doesn’t even fool our oblivious protagonist.
Dracula Daily also offers a unique reading experience as it releases the events in chronological order, and not as originally presented by Stoker. This allows the reader to get glimpses of what other characters are doing while Harker is being terrorized by his supernatural host. Imagine my surprise when I checked to see if I’d heard from my dear friend Jonathan Harker again and was greeted by a Texas cowboy instead. Not only does Dracula Daily provide subscribers with a new format, but a new order that breathes life into this time-honored work.
At least, that’s what it's done for me. This isn’t my first time dipping my toes into Stoker’s world. I received a print copy of “Dracula” about three Christmases ago. I got about 25 pages in before I was defeated by eye strain and 19th century prose. The novel has sat untouched on my bookcase's top shelf since.
I love Dracula Daily because it breaks down the action into accessible pieces, and the length of the section varies by date. From Harker’s two-chapter harrowing journey to Dracula’s castle on May 5 to a two-sentence RSVP telegram on May 26, this slow pace has allowed a virtual book club to bloom as I can hop on social media to see the latest jokes or discuss my theories with friends.
Despite the countless adaptations of the work, I’ve never consumed the story of Dracula before and I feel a camaraderie with its 19th-century readers as I wait with bated breath for the next installment.
There’s still a long way to go until the story finishes on Nov. 6 so now is the perfect time to get caught up.
Those interested can subscribe or get caught up here.