The Historian Read Along Part II

KostavaHistorianWell folks, I am really, really late with this one. But as many of you know I had a career change last month and some of my reading had to be put on hold as I pulled my new life together. The little OCD part of my brain is a completest and will be able to sleep, or at least move on to the next little thing, once I have this read along finished, officially, through this post.

So, here I am with the second half of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. This read along is hosted by The Estella Society and you can head over HERE to see what everyone else thought of the second half of the book (Chapter 41  to the End). This read along was also part of the reading event R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril which was hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.

1. What did you think of the way everything unfolded at the end? Any surprises?

Since this was a reread for me, I wasn’t surprised this time around. However, I do remember being pleasantly surprised at Dracula’s library – and wondering where it all ended up. I recall also being surprised at how easy it was to kill Dracula – or was it? At the very, very end, the daughter receives a book as she leaves a library. I have always wondered what exactly that portended. Perhaps Dracula had a second-in-command that carried on his work; perhaps he was only badly wounded. In some ways, I felt like I as the reader had become the next hunter, reading all these letters and diaries and postcards – carrying on the tradition of being swept up in the hunt for Dracula. Even upon a reread I was left with this feeling and couldn’t help wondering if that was the author’s intent.

2. What did you think of Dracula?

Well, he certainly holds a grudge. While I appreciated his love of books, even if his collection was limited to the morbid and macabre, he was an extraordinarily violent being. Hence, he must be defeated. I was surprised that the story never went into how he had his head reattached and from there became a vampire. or perhaps he was a vampire before they took his head, and that slowed him down for some months or years as his monks tried to reunite his body with his head. And what is that connection to the monks? How did that come about?

So, I guess I would say that I would like to interview Dracula to learn more about him. Of course this would have to be done delicately, and perhaps with him in restraints, as I like my neck as it is.

3. In Chapter 73, Dracula states his credo: “History has taught us that the nature of man is evil, sublimely so.” Do the characters and events in the novel seem to agree or disagree with this?

Many of the vampire hunters we come across are not evil, and some are quite innocent (like the daughter). A few are hunting him for personal gain – like the vamp weasel librarian and Ranov and creepy Professor Geza Josef. But all of them agree they must approach Dracula with some cunning and be prepared for violence.

From Dracula’s perspective, he lived a violent history, fought violence and violence, perpetuating evil. Once he turned vamp, he spent the next 450 years or so brooding over the most morbid aspects of human history. Basically, I think he made himself mentally ill, so his credo is a product of that.

Is the nature of man evil? Perhaps. By and large, we are selfish creatures, always finding a way to justify what we take and how we take it. Are individual people inherently evil? No. But I think we all have the possibility to slip into it, some of us more easily than others.

HistorainBanner4. Helen’s history is deeply intertwined with Dracula. In what ways are the two characters connected? Does she win out over his legacy?

Well, she’s a vampire hunter; her estranged father was essentially killed by Dracula, she herself was nearly turned, and it is most likely that she is a descendant of the fiend himself. She probably needs therapy to sort out all her feelings on vampires in general, and family ties specifically. I hope she got some while traipsing around Europe tracing Dracula’s movements.

In the end, it was her shot that killed Dracula (most likely), so I expect that gives her much consolation when she thinks about the years she spent away from her daughter.

Other Tidbits:

Who was that English professor who leaped in at the end? He distracted Dracula so Helen could take her shot. Most convenient.

I’m hoping Barley becomes the daughter’s (what is her name? I know she is named after Helen’s mother, but I can’t recall the name) first love. Who else could she relate this whole vampire story to?

I loved traipsing around Europe in this book. All the places in detail and the difficulties of travel arrangements – I had a lot of fun with that.

Do you think Dracula was cooking for Professor Rossi? Did he have servants to do that? Perhaps he got take out? And where were the facilities for Professor Rossi to have a bathroom break? Perhaps Dracula was not use to having a ‘pet’ human stay for days or weeks at a time?

Wow! That secret order that Turgut belongs to – Elizabeth Kostova could write a whole book on that and it would be fascinating!


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