CR Episode 200: Dracula, Part II

Sir Christopher Lee as Dracula
Sir Christopher Lee as Dracula

Download Link: Released on 20 November 2023

The panel welcomes guest expert Dr. Madeline Potter to discuss chapters 5–11, comprising the letters and journals of Mina Murray, Lucy Westenra, and Dr. Seward, and their observations tragic and fantastical, from giant bats to bug-eating maniacs.


  1. Loved having Dr. Madeline Potter back! Very interesting insights. Particularly on blood transfusions which seemed to me extremely risky without the knowledge of blood type!

    I myself use onion and garlic as a base for nearly every meal so I guess if we have to deal with vampires we will have to combine our forces and we’re sure to persevere 😂

    Jumping from one cliffhangsr to another it’s still very hard to put down and a joy to pick up.

    Have you considered (or done) A Christmas Carol as an episode in December? Seems a natural choice and also have the benefit of further keeping us on our slippery slope.

  2. I found it comical and interesting that the Danish professor, a man of science, used the ancient method of garlic to ward off what he saw as an evil attacking Lucy. This makes me think of the use of a placebo or alternative medications today when doctors don’t have any other scientifically proven treatments. Was Stoker spotlighting the limits of scientific knowledge and the natural human tendency to reach for a mystery treatment?
    I finally recommend that you cover Jekyll and Hyde next. Complete a horror trilogy!

  3. My Book Report on the Lair of the White Worm (LWW)

    I agree with Disa that it would be hard to define the worst book ever written. For Critical Readings, the definition could be the worst book written by an author who wrote another book worthy of discussion. In this category, LWW is certainly a strong contender. I also nominate Mardi by Melville. Other nominations?

    I hope the following synopsis will assuage any lingering curiosity so that others need not read LWW.

    There are 2 evil characters. Edgar Caswell is an unpleasant Englishman who has returned from living in Africa to inherit the family estate. There is a west African man who accompanies him and the treatment of this character is both abhorrent and sad. Edgar’s 2 hobbies are flying a giant kite and mesmerism. He visits a young lady on multiple occasions and silently and intently stares at her. Not very cinematic compared to Dracula’s evil doings! She eventually collapses and dies but it is not clear why. Perhaps boredom?

    The second evil character is an antediluvian snake living in a well. It is unclear whether the snake shapeshifts into Lady Arabella March or possesses her. In any case, the snake’s evil intent is to marry Edgar to gain his estate. Again, not a very interesting nefarious plot for a titular monster! The book ends with lightning striking Edgar’s kite and killing him, and then traveling along a wire to the snake’s lair and killing the snake.

    The only interesting thing about the book was Edgar sending messages on pieces of paper up the string of the kite. I only read about doing this with a kite once before many years ago. When my kids were little, we made simple parachutes and ran them up the kite string. With a flick of the string, they would detach and float to earth. It was so much fun. Definitely more fun than reading LWW!

    O< O< O<


  4. Sounds riveting. Thank you for taking one for the team xD

    I’m having a hard time coming up with works that are just plain bad, I only have some I didn’t enjoy. I’m reading all of Jane Austen this year and Emma just didn’t connect with me much at all. Not bad though, I just disliked her character.
    Other than that I had to put down Shirley by Charlotte Brontë and Frédéric Moreau by Gustave Flaubert. They are probably good though, just a case of utterly wrong timing.

  5. Finally! My copy of Paradise Lost arrived, and I can begin to read my way through the backlog of Critical Readings episodes! Very exciting 😊 I’m reading through a Western canon list and was going to wait until I reached it, but between me and Paradise Lost towers Summa Theologica among a lot of other works. I figured it was probably a good idea to just crack on xD

  6. Your question about Dracula’s motivation in picking London made me appreciate the one major alteration that the script for Coppola’s film makes: on the one hand, adding “romantic interest” simply fulfils a requirement for a blockbuster movie, but at the same time leaves no doubt as to why London becomes worth risking everything. Also, after the Jonathan section, Dracula basically disappears from the novel until fairly late in the plot, which might not work so well for the film, while the romance with Mina keeps him seductively present and fleshes out the narrative structure very nicely. (The empathy that Mina shows for Dracula later on also feels like the film taps into something Stoker marks, but doesn’t explore, but that’s for a later episode ;)

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