July 30, 2008

Don't Get lost in the Woods

The natural flora and fauna of Transylvania has captivated me as writer for many years, and and the history of the name Transylvania follows that. In times past, it would take many days to travel across the land since it is filled with woods and mountains and rivers. These days, what took days will often only take a few hours but a person will miss much of what nature has to offer to get to the castles and legends that they hold.

I think that is why Bram Stoker decided when he was writing Dracula to build up the nature element to the area- it is a wonderful place in terms of natural beauty.  The looming cliffs and mountains and the dark forests.  It proved to be exactly what a reader would want in something dark.  However, Transylvania has more to offer a tourist than legends and castles, many of the plants and animals who live in the area are, sadly, endangered.

Stoker was Irish so perhaps the land was a type of romantic feel for him since it may have reminded him of home.  It probably did not mean much to him about environmentalism as it does today.  Many castles in the area are on protected grounds and the peoples of the area use tourism as a means to gain income.  Romania itself is a wonderful place to go and see and part of it is because of Transylvania.

There are other legends that can be found there as well. When reading Robert Browning's Pied Piper re-reading the last verse about where people came from  this is not found in every edition of the Pied Piper, but if it an interesting one to read if you do find it.  The idea then flow that from the German Saxons who, according to Browning, came to the land beyond the forest and remained there-- coming out of a hill, which the poet suggests was the place where the Pied Piper lead the children to.  The people built houses and farms and large cities, but unlike the Pied Piper, they were invited by a King of Hungary to help defend the land.

This makes for great writing, and this is the foundation I am looking to build on when writing a book on Transylvania.  It is important to understand the legends and the peoples before you can build on the places and give the readers more.

July 29, 2008

Dracula and Other Facts About Transylvania

What would Transylvania do without Count Dracula?

Count Dracula is a money making topic when it comes to Transylvania, and Romania. This is in large part due to Bram Stoker and his gothic novel Dracula.  To suggest that this timeless piece of  writing is fantastic in terms of a horror novel and it is one which people can read to get a vague idea of Transylvania. The first chapter alone can make people see what they would like to see about Transylvania through the eyes, and more specifically the writings of Jonathan Harker.  The others who tell the tale don't go into detail about Transylvania, so the reader only has Harker to rely on.

This does not give a reader a proper idea, historically or factually speaking, of the land and its people in the 19th Century.  It comes from the mind of a writer who wanted to publish out of his genre of writing.  I am not  sure if he found that 

What most people who follow the book Dracula, or the gothic culture surrounding vampires, do not realize is that there are countless cultures that up until recently flourished within the area.

Count Dracula is a fascinating character, but the man whom this legend is based on is much more fascinating, as are the people and cities of the land itself.  It is possible because he is one of the many links to Transylvania and its people have to the larger world outside of Romania.  Bram Stoker decided upon a good character for his novel.  He did base his main vampire on one man.

Vlad Tepes, the man who has inspired the writer to write one of his most immortal novels, was different: he was born in Transylvania and fought against the Turks. he impaled people using wooden stakes. His name was Vlad III Tepes Dracul, but became known as Vlad the Impaler for his methods of killings became legendary-- he would kill his victims using a wooden stake.  One point of note: it was Count Dracula lived in Bran Castle, not Vlad Tepes.