Well, I finally finished The Historian on Monday. I was glad to finish, to see how the story ended; but sad as well. When you get so wrapped up in a book and look forward to picking it up whenver possible, it's hard when it's finally over. But it's a great read and I highly recommend it.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the book got me thinking about vampires, Dracula, Bram Stoker, etc. I had visions of a long post with tons of interesting Web sites on all things undead -- and quickly found that our good friends at Wikepedia had already covered the topic in depth for me.
The most important thing to remember is the distinction between vampires (their mythology and folklore), the character of Dracula as created by Bram Stoker, and Vlad Tepes (also known as Vlad Dracula or Vlad the Impaler), a prince of Wallachia and defender against Ottoman expansion. They are three separate things that often get mushed up in all sorts of ways. For example, there's no evidence that Vlad Dracula was a vampire (ironcially, he impaled his victims), and the jury is still out on how much Stoker knew of the infamous ruler when creating his fictional character. (By the way, get the e-text to Stoker's novel here.)
Then there's popular culture, which has had almost a continuing love affair with Dracula since his debut in 1897. The Wikepedia article on Dracula does a great job of summarizing both the major and minor impacts the caped one has had on popular culture. In addition to the movies (Bram Stoker's Dracula is my personal favorite, although you gotta love Christopher Lee in all those Hammer movies), there are video games, comics, cereal (yeah Count Chocula!) and children's television (Count von Count from Sesame Street).
One interesting thing I did learn: According to folklore, one of the ways to get rid of a vampire is to simply sprinkle some holy water on the grave. You can understand why Hollywood kind of ignored this. Why just have your hero sprinkling water when you can ram a stake through the vampire's heart and cut his head off?!