Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Before There Was Even Dracula

The Castle in Transylavia by Jules Verne
Jules Verne was such a visionary.  At times, it's a little creepy.  While most certainly known as the Father of Science Fiction, so much of what he wrote about would later become just another fact of our crazy world--submarines, travel by balloon, travel to the moon, etc.  And here is just one more example:  Verne started the vampire craze?!?

Before there was even a Dracula on the market (published in 1897), Verne had published The Castle of the Carpathians in 1893 (Carpathians don't sound nearly so scary as Transylvanians, hence, perhaps the re-release).  While this book was most certainly republished to captitlize on the current paranormal fad, I'm glad.  Otherwise, I might never have stumbled on this gem. Plus, if it gets people reading Jules Verne, who am I to judge?

The story ironically begins with this quote:  "We are living in a time when anything can happen--one can almost say, when everything has happened.  If our tale is not very likely today, it can be so tomorrow, thanks to the scientific resource that are the lot of the future...."  That is still a quote any sci-fi reader or writer could take to heart, over 100 years later.

And the story itself is Victorian to the very end.

The castle in the Carpathia countryside has been vacant for years so when strange smoke and sounds are observed in a nearby village, there is panic.  Enter a young count upon the scene.  His is a strange connection to the castle and to the village.  He is wandering the countryside, trying to get over the loss of his fiancee's sudden and tragic death.  In the prime of her life and fame, the fiancee was the victim of a stalker and, quite literally, scared to death by him.  This stalker was none other than the Baron who owns the castle.

When the count investigates the castle, he is startled to see his beloved, or her ghost, and is a man determined to reclaim her.  Thus begins his improisonment and attempt to escape which leads to a supernaturl encounter with the Baron and the beloved singer they are both obsessed with.

I loved this story, an old-fashioned ghost and science fiction classic.  I loved that the book uses such words like 'phantasmagoria'.  We just don't use words like that anymore.  Our language today is slowly becoming narrowed to words like 'yo'.  Sigh.

And, we just don't get to read stories like this where the true horror comes the madness of a deranged lover.  The supernatural and special effects of phonorgrams and optical illusions is just enough for any sci-fi junkie of the 1800's and I bet a lot of haunted houses could learn a thing or two from Verne.

If you've never read Jules Verne before, start with this one.  And, if you're a true vamp tramp, then start with the one that started the legend.

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