April 04, 2008


The Order of the Dragon insignia, courtesy of wikipedia.

Welcome to the final day of Dracula Week at Goat Rope, which has looked at the fictional character and the historical figure (you'll also find, as always, links and comments about current events). If this is your first visit, please click on earlier posts.

Given all the real Dracula's horrific deeds, it's not surprising that he was remembered for a good while after his death. In the 15th and 16th century, German writers published stories of his atrocities, complete with grisly woodcuts. The German merchants, after all, were one of the main targets of his terror campaign in Transylvania. Similar stories were told among the Ottomans.

The Russian versions of Dracula stories tended to portray him as a strong leader, something of a role model for czars. The most surprising thing is that he became a folk and national hero to Romanians.

As Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally put it in Dracula: Prince of Many Faces,

the "Romanian Dracula" is indeed a law-upholding statesman who is implacable in punishing thieves, liars, idlers, or people who otherwise cheated the state. He was a rational despot attempting to centralize his government by killing unpatriotic anarchical boyars. Dracula's crimes are further justified on a variety of counts. From a peasant point of view, because of his antiboyar stance he acquires the characteristics of a social leveler, a Robin Hood type of character, who plunders the rich in order to help the poor...Above all his anti-German and anti-Turkish exploits gave a boost to the patriotic ego, in the dawn of the era of nationalism.

One thing conspicuously missing from pre-Stoker Dracula stories are any rumors of vampirism, although the living Dracula was said to have dipped his bread in the blood of his victims on at least one occasion. There were legends of such creatures in eastern and central Europe as elsewhere.

That link we owe to Stoker, who in his researches for the novel combed through travelogues and works of folklore of the region. He did enough research to uncover the Dracula name and something of his exploits, but he apparently missed the mother lode.

Ironically, most people outside of that region only know there was a real Dracula thanks to Stoker's fictional character.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'd rather tangle with the vampire than the Impaler any day. Truth isn't just stranger than fiction--sometimes it's a lot worse.

40 YEARS AGO TODAY, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Here's the Washington Post looking back.

WRONG TURN. Eight one percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.

HOW BAD WILL THE ECONOMY GET? According to economist Jeff Faux, writing in The Nation, pretty bad.

THE POLITICS OF FOOD. Here's an interview with Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food.

BAD HEALTH. Here's Krugman on McCain's voodoo health care plan.


INTERESTING WEEK FOR MASSEY. Not only has Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship had trouble getting good help these days--he also got into some kind of scuffle with ABC News reporters. Here's ABC on the subject.

On the bright side for the dark side, the sick joke that the WV Supreme Court has become overturned a $76 million dollar verdict against Massey. Considering that Blankenship spent around $3.5 million to buy the court in 2004, that represents better than a 21-fold return on investment.


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