While the popularity of the Dracula myth has helped to keep the story alive, it has also created a great deal of "critical molestation." No reader can come to the text without preconceptions, derived from the screen and other vampire literature. It's interesting to note that although we've been influenced by these literary progeny from Anne Rice and all of the other writers of vampire literature, none of these works has managed to overtake or overshadow the original Dracula. As James B. Twitchell says, "There have been many twentieth century novelists... who have dealt with the vampire, but none so strikingly as Stoker."
Patrick McGrath describes the novel as a "sort of lens," which brings into focus Gothic motifs: vampirism, "madness, the night, spoiled innocence, disorder in nature, sacrilege, cannibalism, necrophilia, psychic projection, the succubus, the incubus, the ruin, and the tomb." He concludes: "Gathering up and unifying all that came before it, and casting its great shadow over all that came and continues to come after, its influence on twentieth-century Gothic fiction and film is unique and irresistible."
While the idea of immortality is often one of the most fascinating aspects of the Dracula myth, Roman says, "Dracula gave the students pause, prompting them to reassess their prior assumptions about the vampire." Not even immortality looked as attractive when linked with this monster. After all, "the journey into the dark and hidden reaches of the self is more difficult when the shadow/guide assumes the form, not of someone youthful and attractive however murderous but of a repulsive and unrepentant elder with bad breath."
Monsters in Literature
In "The Death of Dracula," Benjamin Leblanc writes, "Dracula's death should not be considered a tragedy. After all, he died of 'natural' causes, and left a legacy to his descendants, one which is both dark and powerful. In a way, he will live forever through his descendants and in our memories."
Davison's collection draws from a variety of sources to create a comprehensive look at how Stoker's Dracula was affected by the culture of that day, of fear and uncertainties. But, the essays also dramatize the true importance of the work, as the last Gothic novel, as representative of the period, and as a work that has transcended time and place.