chapter  4
52 Pages

The Mirror Image: British Travel Writing and Bram Stoker’s Eastern Europe

While poring over books on Eastern Europe and supernatural phenomena in preparation for writing Dracula (1897), Bram Stoker jotted down the potential characteristics of his Transylvanian anti-hero. His notes suggest that he envisioned him as resistant to pictorial representation; there were to be “no looking glasses in the Count’s house” and one could “never see him reflected in one-no shadow?” (Eighteen-Bisang 20). Stoker further stipulated that “painters cannot paint him-their likenesses [are] always like some one else” and one “[c]ould not codak [photograph] him-come out black or like skeleton corpse” (21). In the novel, Jonathan Harker, a visiting Englishman, presents the Count with a set of Kodak pictures of his prospective London property, but the Count’s pursuers do not attempt to capture Dracula photographically, even though they use a whole range of available technologies to record and track him verbally-including the typewriter, the phonograph, and the telegraph. This omission of photography from the toolbox of Dracula’s pursuers in a novel that self-consciously employs other recent inventions is puzzling, especially given the introduction of the Kodak portable camera in 1888. In this chapter, I argue that this fictional phenomenon is a part of a broader preoccupation with the problem of representing Eastern Europe in contemporary British travel writing and a reflection of a heightened tension between the discourses of empire and European identity.