1 (p. 5) the traditions of Turkish rule: Jonathan Harker is traveling from the known, “civilized” West into what was perceived as the sinister and mysterious East. The Ottoman Turks struggled for control of central and Eastern Europe for centuries. Large parts of the Balkan Peninsula were absorbed into their empire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, as was most of Hungary in the sixteenth: Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia all became tributary principalities. Large portions of Eastern Europe still show signs of Turkish influence.

2 (p. 5) the British Museum: A vast collection of printed books, manuscripts, and journals—England’s greatest research library—was formerly kept in the British Museum’s Reading Room; it is now housed in the British Library.

3 (p. 5) Transylvania: This high plateau region of central Rumania is heavily forested. During the Roman Empire it was part of the province of Dacia. Contested by many peoples and tribes during the Dark Ages, it came under Hungarian rule in 1003. After the defeat of Hungary by the Ottoman Turks in the sixteenth century, Transylvania became a semi-independent principality under Turkish suzerainty. It was ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1711 until the dynasty’s collapse in 1918. In describing Transylvania, Stoker consulted Emily Gerard’s popular book The Land Beyond the Forest (1888).

4 (p. 6) In the population ... east and north: The Saxons were Germans who settled in Transylvania in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Wallachs, also called Wallachians or Vlachs, are descendants of the Dacians, the people who lived in the area during the Roman period. The Magyars were tribes who first entered the region in the tenth century and still inhabit most of Hungary. The Szekelys are probably of Turkic stock. The three socially privileged “nations” were the Saxons, the Magyars, and the Szekelys; the Wallachs mostly made up the nonprivileged class of serfs.

5 (p. 6) Attila and the Huns: Attila (died A.D. 453) was king of the Huns, a warlike people originating in north-central Asia who overran and ravaged much of eastern and central Europe. Attila made war on the crumbling Roman Empire and attacked the Balkans in 441. Though he failed to take Rome itself, he hastened the Empire’s fall and has for centuries been perceived as an enemy of Western civilization; his epithet is “the Scourge of God.”

6 (p. 9) St. George’s Day: In Western Europe, St. George’s Day is April 23. St. George, the dragon-slayer, is the patron saint of England. The word “dracula” means “dragon” in the Romanian language, and when Dracula moves mysteriously up and down walls he is said to do so in a lizard-like fashion. The “blue flames,” or will o’the wisps, that Jonathan witnesses a few pages later are said to be especially in evidence on the eve of St. George’s Day.


1 (p. 25) London Directory ... Law List: The London Directory lists London businesses. The “Red” book lists British government employees and pensioners; “Blue” books are parliamentary publications. Whitaker’s Almanack is a standard almanac of the British Empire. The Army and Navy Lists are official lists of officers. The Law Lists is a directory of lawyers.

2 (p. 28) Kodak: The Kodak camera was a relatively new invention, first marketed by George Eastman in 1888. In introducing this newfangled gadget into the ancient, atavistic world of his Gothic tale, Stoker sets a deliberately jarring and anachronistic tone. His Gothic mode is a modern and therefore a more plausible and immediate one. Other up-to-the-minute devices used by Dracula’s characters include the phonograph, the typewriter, the Underground, and the Winchester rifle.


1 (p. 34) Cassova: Dracula is referring to the first Battle of Kosovo in 1389, a decisive event in Balkan history in which a coalition of Serbs, Bosnians, Albanians, and Wallachians tried to stop the advancing Turks under Murad I. Murad was killed in the battle, but his son, Bayazid, went on to triumph, executing the Balkan leader Prince Lazar and annihilating what was left of the Serbian nobility after the battle. From then until the late nineteenth century Serbia was a Turkish province. The memory of the battle of Kosovo has continued to haunt the Balkan imagination and to fuel political and religious strife in the region to the present day.

2 (p. 34) one of my own race ... brought the shame of slavery on them!: Dracula is referring to Vlad IV (1431?—1476), Prince of Wallachia, known to history as Vlad the Impaler; he was the son of Vlad Dracul, or Vlad the Devil, and was therefore called Dracula, or “Son of the Devil.” His brother, Radu, collaborated with the Turks and ousted Vlad, ruling in his stead under Ottoman auspices. Vlad was an efficient ruler, but a bloody and violent one.

3 (p. 35) Mohacs: In 1526 the armies of Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia were crushed by the Ottoman forces of Sulayman I of Turkey, a historic defeat that brought more than 150 years of Ottoman domination over Hungary. Like Kosovo, Mohacs was considered a disaster and a humiliation to Christendom, although Hungary would return to the Christian fold much sooner than Serbia.


1 (p. 70) Whitby: An ancient Yorkshire coastal town, Whitby was an important religious center in early Christian days and throughout the Middle Ages; during the Victorian era, Whitby, with the adjacent Robin Hood’s Bay, was a popular summer resort for artists, actors, and writers. When Stoker spent three weeks there in 1890, he began to write his ideas for a story about an undead man. Stoker describes Whitby faithfully in Dracula, from the great staircase Mina ascends when she sees Dracula and Lucy, to St. Mary’s Churchyard, where the local fishermen would congregate and tell tales.

2 (p. 78) unconscious cerebration: This term, which denotes the unconscious or subconscious workings of the mind, was introduced in 1842 by W. C. Engledue. Ideas about the unconscious developed throughout the nineteenth century, culminating in the revolutionary theories of Sigmund Freud. Freudians, of course, have had a field day with Dracula. But even before Freud published his works, psychiatry was a current and fascinating subject, and many of the themes Freud would elaborate were already in the air. Stoker’s reference to unconscious cerebration as well as to other medical and psychological novelties shows that he had a keen awareness of the subject and its relevance.

3 (p. 83) ‘men like trees walking’: This phrase refers to the miracle in which Jesus restores a blind man’s sight (the Bible, Mark 8:23-24): “And when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw aught. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking” (King James Version).


1 (p. 91) Demeter: Demeter is the Greek goddess of agriculture and crops, especially grain, and thus a symbol of fertility and motherhood. Demeter’s daughter, Persephone, was abducted by Hades, the Lord of the Underworld. As Hades’ wife, Persephone spent half the year on earth with her mother, the other half in the Underworld with her husband; during her months underground, Demeter’s mourning caused the earth to become barren—the ancient Greek explanation for winter. Is it a coincidence that the two boats Dracula travels on, the Demeter and the Czarina Catherine, are both named for powerful women?

2 (p. 92) On 11 july .. Matapan: The ship enters the Bosphorus, the strait connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, at Istanbul. The next day it passes through the Dardanelles, the strait that separates Europe (at the Gallipoli Peninsula) from Turkey, in Asia, and connects the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean Sea. The following day it passes Matapan, the southernmost point of the Greek mainland.


1 (p. 100) the ‘New Woman’: This term was used in the 1890s arid early 1900s to describe women who were beginning to challenge the limits imposed by conventional Victorian ideas about women’s roles. The “New Woman” sought independence and frequently worked outside the home. She was, of course, perceived as threatening to the more conservative elements of society, and “New Woman” was often used in a pejorative sense: The stereotypical new woman smoked, even drank, cut her hair, lived alone, and—in the worst possible scenarios, as depicted during the Edwardian era in the feminist novels of H. G. Wells—enjoyed sexual relations outside of marriage. Mina displays an ambivalent attitude: Though an independent career woman before her marriage and clearly a “New Woman” in her own right, she still feels compelled to treat the phenomenon with conventional feminine contempt.


1 (p. 155) ‘The blood is the life!’: Renfield uses dramatic, biblical language to distort the central Christian dogma of Communion. At the Last Supper, Jesus, exhorting his disciples, “took the Cup; and, when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink ye all of this; for this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins: Do this, as oft ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me’ ” (The Book of Common Prayer).

The Bible (John 6:53-54) explicitly connects this quaff with eternal life: “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (KJV).


1 (p. 206) corporeal transference ... astral bodies: Corporeal transference is the ability to move solid objects through the power of thought. A materialization is a manifestation of ghosts or an apparition at a seance. According to occultists, an astral body is the nonmaterial part of the self that can move independently of the physical body.


1 (p. 306) flesh of my flesh; ... kin of my kin: The reference is to the Bible, Genesis 2:23-24: “And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (KJV). In usurping the language of the Bible and the sacrament of Christian marriage, Dracula creates a scene of extraordinary power, one of the most memorable in the novel. Biblical references throughout the book reinforce the idea of Dracula as a figure who confronts, challenges, and distorts Christian themes and images; specifically, he is an anti-Christ.


1 (p. 358) Transcendentalism: A system of intellectual, secular mysticism, transcendentalism reached its peak in mid-nineteenth-century America; among its adherents were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Louisa May Alcott. Transcendentalist thought continued to have resonance during the latter half of the nineteenth century, and Stoker’s idol, Walt Whitman, was significantly influenced by its ideals.