Van Helsing ordered the former arrangement to be adhered to, explaining that, as Lord Godalming was coming very soon, it would be less harrowing to his feelings to see all that was left of his fiancee quite alone. The undertaker seemed shocked at his own stupidity and exerted himself to restore things to the condition in which we left them the night before, so that when Arthur came such shocks to his feelings as we could avoid were saved. Poor fellow! He looked desperately sad and broken. Even his stalwart manhood seemed to have shrunk somewhat under the strain of his much-tried emotions. He had, I knew, been very genuinely and devotedly attached to his father, and to lose him, and at such a time, was a bitter blow to him. With me he was warm as ever, and to Van Helsing he was sweetly courteous. But I could not help seeing that there was some constraint with him. The professor noticed it too, and motioned me to bring him upstairs. I did so, and left him at the door of the room, as I felt he would like to be quite alone with her, but he took my arm and led me in, saying huskily, "You loved her too, old fellow. She told me all about it, and there was no friend had a closer place in her heart than you. I don't know how to thank you for all you have done for her. I can't think yet. . ." Here he suddenly broke down, and threw his arms round my shoulders and laid his head on my breast, crying, "Oh, Jack! Jack! What shall I do? The whole of life seems gone from me all at once, and there is nothing in the wide world for me to live for." I comforted him as well as I could. In such cases men do not need much expression. A grip of the hand, the tightening of an arm over the shoulder, a sob in unison, are expressions of sympathy dear to a man's heart. I stood still and silent till his sobs died away, and then I said softly to him, "Come and look at her." Together we moved over to the bed, and I lifted the lawn from her face. God! How beautiful she was. Every hour seemed to be enhancing her loveliness. It frightened and amazed me somewhat. And as for Arthur, he fell to trembling, and finally was shaken with doubt as with an ague. At last, after a long pause, he said to me in a faint whisper, "Jack, is she really dead?" 166 I assured him sadly that it was so, and went on to suggest, for I felt that such a horrible doubt should not have life for a moment longer than I could help, that it often happened that after death faces become softened and even resolved into their youthful beauty, that this was especially so when death had been preceded by any acute or prolonged suffering. I seemed to quite do away with any doubt, and after kneeling beside the couch for a while and looking at her lovingly and long, he turned aside. I told him that that must be goodbye, as the coffin had to be prepared, so he went back and took her dead hand in his and kissed it, and bent over and kissed her forehead. He came away, fondly looking back over his shoulder at her as he came. I left him in the drawing room, and told Van Helsing that he had said goodbye, so the latter went to the kitchen to tell the undertaker's men to proceed with the preperations and to screw up the coffin. When he came out of the room again I told him of Arthur's question, and he replied, "I am not surprised. Just now I doubted for a moment myself!" We all dined together, and I could see that poor Art was trying to make the best of things. Van Helsing had been silent all dinner time, but when we had lit our cigars he said, "Lord. . ., but Arthur interrupted him. "No, no, not that, for God's sake! Not yet at any rate. Forgive me, sir. I did not mean to speak offensively. It is only because my loss is so recent." The Professor answered very sweetly, "I only used that name because I was in doubt. I must not call you `Mr.' and I have grown to love you, yes, my dear boy, to love you, as Arthur." Arthur held out his hand, and took the old man's warmly. "Call me what you will," he said. "I hope I may always have the title of a friend. And let me say that I am at a loss for words to thank you for your goodness to my poor dear." He paused a moment, and went on, "I know that she understood your goodness even better than I do. And if I was rude or in any way wanting at that time you acted so, you remember,"-- the Professor nodded--"You must forgive me." He answered with a grave kindness, "I know it was hard for you to quite trust me then, for to trust such violence needs to understand, and I take it that you do not, that you cannot, trust me now, for you do not yet understand. And there may be more times when I shall want you to trust when you cannot, and may not, and must not yet understand. 167 But the time will come when your trust shall be whole and complete in me, and when you shall understand as though the sunlight himself shone through. Then you shall bless me from first to last for your own sake, and for the sake of others, and for her dear sake to whom I swore to protect." "And indeed, indeed, sir," said Arthur warmly. "I shall in all ways trust you. I know and believe you have a very noble heart, and you are Jack's friend, and you were hers. You shall do what you like." The Professor cleared his throat a couple of times, as though about to speak, and finally said, "May I ask you something now?" "Certainly." "You know that Mrs. Westenra left you all her property?" "No, poor dear. I never thought of it." "And as it is all yours, you have a right to deal with it as you will. I want you to give me permission to read all Miss Lucy's papers and letters. Believe me, it is no idle curiosity. I have a motive of which, be sure, she would have approved. I have them all here. I took them before we knew that all was yours, so that no strange hand might touch them, no strange eye look through words into her soul. I shall keep them, if I may. Even you may not see them yet, but I shall keep them safe. No word shall be lost, and in the good time I shall give them back to you. It is a hard thing that I ask, but you will do it, will you not, for Lucy's sake?" Arthur spoke out heartily, like his old self, "Dr. Van Helsing, you may do what you will. I feel that in saying this I am doing what my dear one would have approved. I shall not trouble you with questions till the time comes." The old Professor stood up as he said solemnly, "And you are right. There will be pain for us all, but it will not be all pain, nor will this pain be the last. We and you too, you most of all, dear boy, will have to pass through the bitter water before we reach the sweet. But we must be brave of heart and unselfish, and do our duty, and all will be well!" I slept on a sofa in Arthur's room that night. Van Helsing did not go to bed at all. He went to and fro, as if patroling the house, and was never out of sight of the room where Lucy lay in her coffin, strewn with the wild garlic flowers, which sent through the odor 168 of lily and rose, a heavy, overpowering smell into the night. MINA HARKER'S JOURNAL 22 September.--In the train to Exeter. Jonathan sleeping. It seems only yesterday that the last entry was made, and yet how much between then, in Whitby and all the world before me, Jonathan away and no news of him, and now, married to Jonathan, Jonathan a solicitor, a partner, rich, master of his business, Mr. Hawkins dead and buried, and Jonathan with another attack that may harm him. Some day he may ask me about it. Down it all goes. I am rusty in my shorthand, see what unexpected prosperity does for us, so it may be as well to freshen it up again with an exercise anyhow. The service was very simple and very solemn. There were only ourselves and the servants there, one or two old friends of his from Exeter, his London agent, and a gentleman representing Sir John Paxton, the President of the Incorporated Law Society. Jonathan and I stood hand in hand, and we felt that our best and dearest friend was gone from us. We came back to town quietly, taking a bus to Hyde Park Corner. Jonathan thought it would interest me to go into the Row for a while, so we sat down. But there were very few people there, and it was sad-looking and desolate to see so many empty chairs. It made us think of the empty chair at home. So we got up and walked down Piccadilly. Jonathan was holding me by the arm, the way he used to in the old days before I went to school. I felt it very improper, for you can't go on for some years teaching etiquette and decorum to other girls without the pedantry of it biting into yourself a bit. But it was Jonathan, and he was my husband, and we didn't know anybody who saw us, and we didn't care if they did, so on we walked. I was looking at a very beautiful girl, in a big cart-wheel hat, sitting in a victoria outside Guiliano's, when I felt Jonathan clutch my arm so tight that he hurt me, and he said under his breath, "My God!" I am always anxious about Jonathan, for I fear that some nervous fit may upset him again. So I turned to him quickly, and asked him what it was that disturbed him. 169 He was very pale, and his eyes seemed bulging out as, half in terror and half in amazement, he gazed at a tall, thin man, with a beaky nose and black moustache and pointed beard, who was also observing the pretty girl. He was looking at her so hard that he did not see either of us, and so I had a good view of him. His face was not a good face. It was hard, and cruel, and sensual, and big white teeth, that looked all the whiter because his lips were so red, were pointed like an animal's. Jonathan kept staring at him, till I was afraid he would notice. I feared he might take it ill, he looked so fierce and nasty. I asked Jonathan why he was disturbed, and he answered, evidently thinking that I knew as much about it as he did, "Do you see who it is?" "No, dear," I said. "I don't know him, who is it?" His answer seemed to shock and thrill me, for it was said as if he did not know that it was me, Mina, to whom he was speaking. "It is the man himself!" The poor dear was evidently terrified at something, very greatly terrified. I do believe that if he had not had me to lean on and to support him he would have sunk down. He kept staring. A man came out of the shop with a small parcel, and gave it to the lady, who then drove off. Th e dark man kept his eyes fixed on her, and when the carriage moved up Piccadilly he followed in the same direction, and hailed a hansom. Jonathan kept looking after him, and said, as if to himself, "I believe it is the Count, but he has grown young. My God, if this be so! Oh, my God! My God! If only I knew! If only I knew!" He was distressing himself so much that I feared to keep his mind on the subject by asking him any questions, so I remained silent. I drew away quietly, and he, holding my arm, came easily. We walked a little further, and then went in and sat for a while in the Green Park. It was a hot day for autumn, and there was a comfortable seat in a shady place. After a few minutes' staring at nothing, Jonathan's eyes closed, and he went quickly into a sleep, with his head on my shoulder. I thought it was the best thing for him, so did not disturb him. In about twenty minutes he woke up, and said to me quite cheerfully, "Why, Mina, have I been asleep! Oh, do forgive me for being so rude. Come, and we'll have a cup of tea somewhere." He had evidently forgotten all about the dark stranger, as in his illness he had forgotten all that this episode had 170 reminded him of. I don't like this lapsing into forgetfulness. It may make or continue some injury to the brain. I must not ask him, for fear I shall do more harm than good, but I must somehow learn the facts of his journey abroad. The time is come, I fear, when I must open the parcel, and know what is written. Oh, Jonathan, you will, I know, forgive me if I do wrong, but it is for your own dear sake. Later.--A sad homecoming in every way, the house empty of the dear soul who was so good to us. Jonathan still pale and dizzy under a slight relapse of his malady, and now a telegram from Van Helsing, whoever he may be. "You will be grieved to hear that Mrs. Westenra died five days ago, and that Lucy died the day before yesterday. They were both buried today." Oh, what a wealth of sorrow in a few words! Poor Mrs. Westenra! Poor Lucy! Gone, gone, never to return to us! And poor, poor Arthur, to have lost such a sweetness out of his life! God help us all to bear our troubles. DR. SEWARD'S DIARY-CONT. 22 September.--It is all over. Arthur has gone back to Ring, and has taken Quincey Morris with him. What a fine fellow is Quincey! I believe in my heart of hearts that he suffered as much about Lucy's death as any of us, but he bore himself through it like a moral Viking. If America can go on breeding men like that, she will be a power in the world indeed. Van Helsing is lying down, having a rest preparatory to his journey. He goes to Amsterdam tonight, but says he returns tomorrow night, that he only wants to make some arrangements which can only be made personally. He is to stop with me then, if he can. He says he has work to do in London which may take him some time. Poor old fellow! I fear that the strain of the past week has broken down even his iron strength. All the time of the burial he was, I could see, putting some terrible restraint on himself. When it was all over, we were standing beside Arthur, who, poor fellow, was speaking of his part in the operation where his blood had been transfused to his Lucy's veins. I could see Van Helsing's face grow white and purple by turns. Arthur was saying that he felt since then as if they two had been really married, and that she was his wife in the sight of God. 171 None of us said a word of the other operations, and none of us ever shall. Arthur and Quincey went away together to the station, and Van Helsing and I came on here. The moment we were alone in the carriage he gave way to a regular fit of hysterics. He has denied to me since that it was hysterics, and insisted that it was only his sense of humor asserting itself under very terrible conditions. He laughed till he cried, and I had to draw down the blinds lest any one should see us and misjudge. And then he cried, till he laughed again, and laughed and cried together, just as a woman does. I tried to be stern with him, as one is to a woman under the circumstances, but it had no effect. Men and women are so different in manifestations of nervous strength or weakness! Then when his face grew grave and stern again I asked him why his mirth, and why at such a time. His reply was in a way characteristic of him, for it was logical and forceful and mysterious. He said, "Ah, you don't comprehend, friend John. Do not think that I am not sad, though I laugh. See, I have cried even when the laugh did choke me. But no more think that I am all sorry when I cry, for the laugh he come just the same. Keep it always with you that laughter who knock at your door and say, `May I come in?' is not true laughter. No! He is a king, and he come when and how he like. He ask no person, he choose no time of suitability. He say, `I am here.' Behold, in example I grieve my heart out for that so sweet young girl. I give my blood for her, though I am old and worn. I give my time, my skill, my sleep. I let my other sufferers want that she may have all. And yet I can laugh at her very grave, laugh when the clay from the spade of the sexton drop upon her coffin and say `Thud, thud!' to my heart, till it send back the blood from my cheek. My heart bleed for that poor boy, that dear boy, so of the age of mine own boy had I been so blessed that he live, and with his hair and eyes the same. "There, you know now why I love him so. And yet when he say things that touch my husband-heart to the quick, and make my father-heart yearn to him as to no other man, not even you, friend John, for we are more level in experiences than father and son, yet even at such a moment King Laugh he come to me and shout and bellow in my ear,`Here I am! Here I am!' till the blood come dance back and bring some of the sunshine that he carry with him to my cheek. Oh, friend John, it is a strange world, a sad world, a world full of miseries, and woes, and troubles. And yet when King 172 Laugh come, he make them all dance to the tune he play. Bleeding hearts, and dry bones of the churchyard, and tears that burn as they fall, all dance together to the music that he make with that smileless mouth of him. And believe me, friend John, that he is good to come, and kind. Ah, we men and women are like ropes drawn tight with strain that pull us different ways. Then tears come, and like the rain on the ropes, they brace us up, until perhaps the strain become too great, and we break. But King Laugh he come like the sunshine, and he ease off the strain again, and we bear to go on with our labor, what it may be." I did not like to wound him by pretending not to see his idea, but as I did not yet understand the cause of his laughter, I asked him. As he answered me his face grew stern, and he said in quite a different tone, "Oh, it was the grim irony of it all, this so lovely lady garlanded with flowers, that looked so fair as life, till one by one we wondered if she were truly dead, she laid in that so fine marble house in that lonely churchyard, where rest so many of her kin, laid there with the mother who loved her, and whom she loved, and that sacred bell going "Toll! Toll! Toll!' so sad and slow, and those holy men, with the white garments of the angel, pretending to read books, and yet all the time their eyes never on the page, and all of us with the bowed head. And all for what? She is dead, so! Is it not?" "Well, for the life of me, Professor," I said, "I can't see anything to laugh at in all that. Why, your expression makes it a harder puzzle than before. But even if the burial service was comic, what about poor Art and his trouble? Why his heart was simply breaking." "Just so. Said he not that the transfusion of his blood to her veins had made her truly his bride?" "Yes, and it was a sweet and comforting idea for him." "Quite so. But there was a difficulty, friend John. If so that, then what about the others? Ho, ho! Then this so sweet maid is a polyandrist, and me, with my poor wife dead to me, but alive by Church's law, though no wits, all gone, even I, who am faithful husband to this now-no-wife, am bigamist." "I don't see where the joke comes in there either!" I said, and I 173 did not feel particularly pleased with him for saying such things. He laid his hand on my arm, and said, "Friend John, forgive me if I pain. I showed not my feeling to others when it would wound, but only to you, my old friend, whom I can trust. If you could have looked into my heart then when I want to laugh, if you could have done so when the laugh arrived, if you could do so now, when King Laugh have pack up his crown, and all that is to him, for he go far, far away from me, and for a long, long time, maybe you would perhaps pity me the most of all." I was touched by the tenderness of his tone, and asked why. "Because I know!" And now we are all scattered, and for many a long day loneliness will sit over our roofs with brooding wings. Lucy lies in the tomb of her kin, a lordly death house in a lonely churchyard, away from teeming London, where the air is fresh, and the sun rises over Hampstead Hill, and where wild flowers grow of their own accord. So I can finish this diary, and God only knows if I shall ever begin another. If I do, or if I even open this again, it will be to deal with different people and different themes, for here at the end, where the romance of my life is told, ere I go back to take up the thread of my life-work, I say sadly and without hope, "FINIS". THE WESTMINSTER GAZETTE, 25 SEPTEMBER A HAMPSTEAD MYSTERY The neighborhood of Hampstead is just at present exercised with a series of events which seem to run on lines parallel to those of what was known to the writers of headlines and "The Kensington Horror," or "The Stabbing Woman," or "The Woman in Black." During the past two or three days several cases have occurred of young children straying from home or neglecting to return from their playing on the Heath. In all these cases the children were too young to give any properly intelligible account of themselves, but the consensus of their excuses is that they had been with a "bloofer lady." It has always been late in the evening when they have been missed, and on two occasions the children have not been found until early in the following morning. 174 It is generally supposed in the neighborhood that, as the first child missed gave as his reason for being away that a "bloofer lady" had asked him to come for a walk, the others had picked up the phrase and used it as occasion served. This is the more natural as the favorite game of the little ones at present is luring each other away by wiles. A correspondent writes us that to see some of the tiny tots pretending to be the"bloofer lady" is supremely funny. Some of our caricaturists might, he says, take a lesson in the irony of grotesque by comparing the reality and the picture. It is only in accordance with general principles of human nature that the "bloofer lady" should be the popular role at these al fresco performances. Our correspondent naively says that even Ellen Terry could not be so winningly attractive as some of these grubby-faced little children pretend, and even imagine themselves, to be. There is, however, possibly a serious side to the question, for some of the children, indeed all who have been missed at night, have been slightly torn or wounded in the throat. The wounds seem such as might be made by a rat or a small dog, and although of not much importance individually, would tend to show that whatever animal inflicts them has a system or method of its own. The police of the division have been instructed to keep a sharp lookout for straying children, especially when very young, in and around Hampstead Heath, and for any stray dog which may be about. THE WESTMINSTER GAZETTE, 25 SEPTEMBER EXTRA SPECIAL THE HAMPSTEAD HORROR ANOTHER CHILD INJURED THE "BLOOFER LADY" We have just received intelligence that another child, missed last night, was only discovered late in the morning under a furze bush at the Shooter's Hill side of Hampstead Heath, which is perhaps, less frequented than the other parts. It has the same tiny wound in the throat as has been noticed 175 in other cases. It was terribly weak, and looked quite emaciated. It too, when partially restored, had the common story to tell of being lured away by the "bloofer lady". 176 CHAPTER 14 MINA HARKER'S JOURNAL 23 September.--Jonathan is better after a bad night. I am so glad that he has plenty of work to do, for that keeps his mind off the terrible things, and oh, I am rejoiced that he is not now weighed down with the responsibility of his new position. I knew he would be true to himself, and now how proud I am to see my Jonathan rising to the height of his advancement and keeping pace in all ways with the duties that come upon him. He will be away all day till late, for he said he could not lunch at home. My household work is done, so I shall take his foreign journal, and lock myself up in my room and read it. 24 September.--I hadn't the heart to write last night, that terrible record of Jonathan's upset me so. Poor dear! How he must have suffered, whether it be true or only imagination. I wonder if there is any truth in it at all. Did he get his brain fever, and then write all those terrible things, or had he some cause for it all? I suppose I shall never know, for I dare not open the subject to him. And yet that man we saw yesterday! He seemed quite certain of him, poor fellow! I suppose it was the funeral upset him and sent his mind back on some train of thought. He believes it all himself. I remember how on our wedding day he said "Unless some solemn duty come upon me to go back to the bitter hours, asleep or awake, mad or sane. . ." There seems to be through it all some thread of continuity. That fearful Count was coming to London. If it should be, and he came to London, with its teeming millions. . .There may be a solemn duty, and if it come we must not shrink from it. I shall be prepared. I shall get my typewriter this very hour and begin transcribing. Then we shall be ready for other eyes if required. And if it be wanted, then, perhaps, if I am ready, poor Jonathan may not be upset, for I can speak for him and never let him be troubled or worried with it at all. If ever Jonathan quite gets over the nervousness he may want to tell me of it all, and I can ask him questions and find out things, and see how I may comfort him. 177 LETTER, VAN HELSING TO MRS. HARKER 24 September (Confidence) "Dear Madam, "I pray you to pardon my writing, in that I am so far friend as that I sent to you sad news of Miss Lucy Westenra's death. By the kindness of Lord Godalming, I am empowered to read her letters and papers, for I am deeply concerned about certain matters vitally important. In them I find some letters from you, which show how great friends you were and how you love her. Oh, Madam Mina, by that love, I implore you, help me. It is for others' good that I ask, to redress great wrong, and to lift much and terrible troubles, that may be more great than you can know. May it be that I see you? You can trust me. I am friend of Dr. John Seward and of Lord Godalming (that was Arthur of Miss Lucy). I must keep it private for the present from all. I should come to Exeter to see you at once if you tell me I am privilege to come, and where and when. I implore your pardon, Madam. I have read your letters to poor Lucy, and know how good you are and how your husband suffer. So I pray you, if it may be, enlighten him not, least it may harm. Again your pardon, and forgive me. "VAN HELSING" TELEGRAM, MRS. HARKER TO VAN HELSING 25 September.--Come today by quarter past ten train if you can catch it. Can see you any time you call. "WILHELMINA HARKER" MINA HARKER'S JOURNAL 178 25 September.--I cannot help feeling terribly excited as the time draws near for the visit of Dr. Van Helsing, for somehow I expect that it will throw some light upon Jonathan's sad experience, and as he attended poor dear Lucy in her last illness, he can tell me all about her. That is the reason of his coming. It is concerning Lucy and her sleep-walking, and not about Jonathan. Then I shall never know the real truth now! How silly I am. That awful journal gets hold of my imagination and tinges everything with something of its own color. Of course it is about Lucy. That habit came back to the poor dear, and that awful night on the cliff must have made her ill. I had almost forgotten in my own affairs how ill she was afterwards. She must have told him of her sleep-walking adventure on the cliff, and that I knew all about it, and now he wants me to tell him what I know, so that he may understand. I hope I did right in not saying anything of it to Mrs. Westenra. I should never forgive myself if any act of mine, were it even a negative one, brought harm on poor dear Lucy. I hope too, Dr. Van Helsing will not blame me. I have had so much trouble and anxiety of late that I feel I cannot bear more just at present. I suppose a cry does us all good at times, clears the air as other rain does. Perhaps it was reading the journal yesterday that upset me, and then Jonathan went away this morning to stay away from me a whole day and night, the first time we have been parted since our marriage. I do hope the dear fellow will take care of himself, and that nothing will occur to upset him. It is two o'clock, and the doctor will be here soon now. I shall say nothing of Jonathan's journal unless he asks me. I am so glad I have typewritten out my own journal, so that, in case he asks about Lucy, I can hand it to him. It will save much questioning. Later.--He has come and gone. Oh, what a strange meeting, and how it all makes my head whirl round. I feel like one in a dream. Can it be all possible, or even a part of it? If I had not read Jonathan's journal first, I should never have accepted even a possibility. Poor, poor, dear Jonathan! How he must have suffered. Please the good God, all this may not upset him again. I shall try to save him from it. But it may be even a consolation and a help to him, terrible though it be and awful in its consequences, to know for certain that his eyes and ears and brain did not deceive him, and that it is all true. It may be that it 179 is the doubt which haunts him, that when the doubt is removed, no matter which, waking or dreaming, may prove the truth, he will be more satisfied and better able to bear the shock. Dr. Van Helsing must be a good man as well as a clever one if he is Arthur's friend and Dr. Seward's, and if they brought him all the way from Holland to look after Lucy. I feel from having seen him that he is good and kind and of a noble nature. When he comes tomorrow I shall ask him about Jonathan. And then, please God, all this sorrow and anxiety may lead to a good end. I used to think I would like to practice interviewing. Jonathan's friend on "The Exeter News" told him that memory is everything in such work, that you must be able to put down exactly almost every word spoken, even if you had to refine some of it afterwards. Here was a rare interview. I shall try to record it verbatim. It was half-past two o'clock when the knock came. I took my courage a deux mains and waited. In a few minutes Mary opened the door, and announced "Dr. Van Helsing". I rose and bowed, and he came towards me, a man of medium weight, strongly built, with his shoulders set back over a broad, deep chest and a neck well balanced on the trunk as the head is on the neck. The poise of the head strikes me at once as indicative of thought and power. The head is noble, well-sized, broad, and large behind the ears. The face, clean-shaven, shows a hard, square chin, a large resolute, mobile mouth, a good-sized nose, rather straight, but with quick, sensitive nostrils, that seem to broaden as the big bushy brows come down and the mouth tightens. The forehead is broad and fine, rising at first almost straight and then sloping back above two bumps or ridges wide apart, such a forehead that the reddish hair cannot possibly tumble over it, but falls naturally back and to the sides. Big, dark blue eyes are set widely apart, and are quick and tender or stern with the man's moods. He said to me, "Mrs. Harker, is it not?" I bowed assent. "That was Miss Mina Murray?" Again I assented. "It is Mina Murray that I came to see that was friend of that poor dear child Lucy Westenra. Madam Mina, it is on account of the dead that I come." "Sir," I said, "you could have no better claim on me than that you were a friend and helper of Lucy Westenra."And I held out my hand. He took it and said tenderly, 180 "Oh, Madam Mina, I know that the friend of that poor little girl must be good, but I had yet to learn. . ." He finished his speech with a courtly bow. I asked him what it was that he wanted to see me about, so he at once began. "I have read your letters to Miss Lucy. Forgive me, but I had to begin to inquire somewhere, and there was none to ask. I know that you were with her at Whitby. She sometimes kept a diary, you need not look surprised, Madam Mina. It was begun after you had left, and was an imitation of you, and in that diary she traces by inference certain things to a sleep-walking in which she puts down that you saved her. In great perplexity then I come to you, and ask you out of your so much kindness to tell me all of it that you can remember." "I can tell you, I think, Dr. Van Helsing, all about it." "Ah, then you have good memory for facts, for details? It is not always so with young ladies." "No, doctor, but I wrote it all down at the time. I can show it to you if you like." "Oh, Madam Mina, I well be grateful. You will do me much favor." I could not resist the temptation of mystifying him a bit, I suppose it is some taste of the original apple that remains still in our mouths, so I handed him the shorthand diary. He took it with a grateful bow, and said, "May I read it?" "If you wish," I answered as demurely as I could. He opened it, and for an instant his face fell. Then he stood up and bowed. "Oh, you so clever woman!" he said. "I knew long that Mr. Jonathan was a man of much thankfulness, but see, his wife have all the good things. And will you not so much honor me and so help me as to read it for me? Alas! I know not the shorthand." By this time my little joke was over, and I was almost ashamed. So I took the typewritten copy from my work basket and handed it to him. "Forgive me," I said. "I could not help it, but I had been thinking that it was of dear Lucy that you wished to ask, and so that you might not have time to wait, not on my account, but because I know your time must be precious, I have written 181 it out on the typewriter for you." He took it and his eyes glistened. "You are so good," he said. "And may I read it now? I may want to ask you some things when I have read." "By all means," I said. "read it over whilst I order lunch, and then you can ask me questions whilst we eat." He bowed and settled himself in a chair with his back to the light, and became so absorbed in the papers, whilst I went to see after lunch chiefly in order that he might not be disturbed. When I came back, I found him walking hurriedly up and down the room, his face all ablaze with excitement. He rushed up to me and took me by both hands. "Oh, Madam Mina," he said, "how can I say what I owe to you? This paper is as sunshine. It opens the gate to me. I am dazed, I am dazzled, with so much light, and yet clouds roll in behind the light every time. But that you do not, cannot comprehend. Oh, but I am grateful to you, you so clever woman. Madame," he said this very solemnly, "if ever Abraham Van Helsing can do anything for you or yours, I trust you will let me know. It will be pleasure and delight if I may serve you as a friend, as a friend, but all I have ever learned, all I can ever do, shall be for you and those you love. There are darknesses in life, and there are lights. You are one of the lights. You will have a happy life and a good life, and your husband will be blessed in you." "But, doctor, you praise me too much, and you do not know me." "Not know you, I, who am old, and who have studied all my life men and women, I who have made my specialty the brain and all that belongs to him and all that follow from him! And I have read your diary that you have so goodly written for me, and which breathes out truth in every line. I, who have read your so sweet letter to poor Lucy of your marriage and your trust, not know you! Oh, Madam Mina, good women tell all their lives, and by day and by hour and by minute, such things that angels can read. And we men who wish to know have in us something of angels' eyes. Your husband is noble nature, and you are noble too, for you trust, and trust cannot be where there is mean nature. And your husband, tell me of him. Is he quite well? Is all that fever gone, and is he strong and hearty?" I saw here an opening to ask him about Jonathan, so I said, "He was almost recovered, but he has been greatly upset 182 by Mr. Hawkins death." He interrupted, "Oh, yes. I know. I know. I have read your last two letters." I went on, "I suppose this upset him, for when we were in town on Thursday last he had a sort of shock." "A shock, and after brain fever so soon! That is not good. What kind of shock was it?" "He thought he saw some one who recalled something terrible, something which led to his brain fever." And here the whole thing seemed to overwhelm me in a rush. The pity for Jonathan, the horror which he experienced, the whole fearful mystery of his diary, and the fear that has been brooding over me ever since, all came in a tumult. I suppose I was hysterical, for I threw myself on my knees and held up my hands to him, and implored him to make my husband well again. He took my hands and raised me up, and made me sit on the sofa, and sat by me. He held my hand in his, and said to me with, oh, such infinite sweetness, "My life is a barren and lonely one, and so full of work that I have not had much time for friendships, but since I have been summoned to here by my friend John Seward I have known so many good people and seen such nobility that I feel more than ever, and it has grown with my advancing years, the loneliness of my life. Believe me, then, that I come here full of respect for you, and you have given me hope, hope, not in what I am seeking of, but that there are good women still left to make life happy, good women, whose lives and whose truths may make good lesson for the children that are to be. I am glad, glad, that I may here be of some use to you. For if your husband suffer, he suffer within the range of my study and experience
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Dracula, Vlad l'impalatore di Transilvania, storia e leggenda

DRACULA TRA LEGGENDA E REALTA Dracula detto anche Vlad l'impalatore , era il figlio di Vlad Dracul (1436-1442; 1443-1447) e nipote di Mircea il Vecchio ( 1386-1418 ). Vlad Dracul venne nominato difensore dell'Ordine dei Dragoni dal re degli Ungheresi.Tutti i membri di quest'ordine avevano raffigurati , sui loro vestiti , un dragone e da qui deriva il nomignolo di Dracul ( Diavolo ). Vlad l' impalatore usava firmarsi Draculea o Draculya - il figlio del diavolo -, nome che fu trasformato in Dracula. La fama di Dracula raggiunse attreverso i Sassoni delle citta della Transilvania Brasov (Kronstadt) e Sibiu (Hermannstadt), che spesso concedevano riparo a coloro che rivendicavano il trono della Valacchia. Era un po' basso ma molto forte e robusto, freddo e terribile di aspetto, con un gran naso aquilino, narici larghe, un volto magro e rossiccio, con grandi occhi verdi spalancati e incorniciati da nere ciglia, molto folte e lunghe, che davano agli occhi un aspetto terrificante. Il viso e il mento erano rasati, ma portava i baffi. Le tempie larghe aumentavano l'ampiezza della fronte. Un collo taurino univa la testa dalla quale le ciocche nere dei capelli scendevano sulle larghe spalle della sua persona. Nicola Modrussa legato pontificio presso la corte di Mattia Corvino, a Buda Al fine di evitare il pericolo di perdere il suo trono, Vlad volle punire i Sassoni. Sibiu e i suoi dintorni furono distrutti e bruciati e molti sassoni furono impalati . Stessa sorte capito ai mercanti sassoni che andavano per affari a Targoviste. Di fatto , Vlad fu soprannominato Tepes ( l'impalatore ) soltanto dopo la sua morte (1476). Governo la Valacchia tra il 1456-1462 e nel 1476. Nel 1462 , Vlad fu sconfitto dai turchi e fu costretto a rifugiarsi in Ungheria. Nel 1476 con l'aiuto del re d'Ungheria Mattia Corvino e il Principe di Moldavia Stefano il Grande, Vlad riprese il potere della Valacchia per un mese. La battaglia che segui , vide la morte di Vlad. Vlad fu sepolto nella chiesa del Monastero di Snagov, in un'isola vicino a Bucarest. Il suo corpo giace davanti all'altare. L'impalazione era, per Vlad Tepes, il metodo di tortura-punizione preferito ma certamente non fu l'unico ad usare questo metodo . Principi spagnoli e tedeschi usavano tale punizione . Vlad utilizzava l'impalazione per comuni criminali, ladri , turchi , sassoni e per tutti coloro i quali cospiravano contro il suo potere. "Foreste" di nemici adornavano la citta di Targoviste, capitale della Valacchia. Inorriditi da tali atrocita, i sassoni stamparono libri e pamphlets dove narravano delle crudelta di Vlad. Tale materiale raggiunse la Germania e l'Europa Occidentale dove Vlad divenne conosciuto come il tiranno sanguinario. Nel 1897 , lo scrittore irlandese Bram Stroker pubblico il romanzo "Dracula": tale pubblicazione rese celebre in tutti il mondo Vlad l'Impalatore. Stoker lesse diverse storie riguardanti Dracula stampate nel quindicesimo e sedicesimo secolo e fu colpito dai suoi atti crudeli . Lo scrittore decise di farne un personaggio ; lesse, inoltre, libri che sulla Transilvania ( dal latino " terra tra le foreste" ), e penso di ambientare il suo romanzo in questa terra. DI fatto, Stocker uso Vlad soltanto come fonte di ispirazione in quanto, nel suo romanzo, Dracula non e il Vlad l'Impalatore, bensi un conte della Transilvania che viveva in un misterioso castello dove adescava le sue vittime. La storia e' ambientata nell'area di Bistriza e il castello si trova vicino al Passo di Bargau ( tra i Carpazi ). Stoker non visito mai la Transilvania cosi che molti posti e avvenimenti sono di pura invenzione. Leggenda e storia di Dracula di mescolano e rivivono attraverso le mete turistiche come il Monastero di Snagov vicino a Bucarest o il Castello di Bran, vicino Brasov. Le vicende qui narrate si sono svolte in territori che oggi appartengono alla Romania: Valacchia e Transilvania, che nel XV secolo erano continuamente oggetto di conquista da parte di potenti Stati feudali limitrofi, tra i quali anzitutto l'Ungheria e la Turchia. Anche i polacchi cercarono a più riprese di entrare in Moldavia e in Galizia. Sia i polacchi che gli ungheresi miravano a imporre una subordinazione non solo di tipo feudale ma anche culturale, sostituendo la religione ortodossa di quei territori col cattolicesimo latino, mentre i turchi volevano imporre l'islam. La classe sociale che comandava era quella dei boiardi, i grandi proprietari terrieri, che avevano completamente asservito i contadini, facendo scomparire la piccola proprietà privata e le terre comuni. La rivolte contadine iniziarono nel 1339, in Transilvania, e proseguirono sino alla fine del XV secolo. La decisa volontà dei boiardi, che si servirono persino di eserciti polacchi e teutonici, di non scendere a compromessi coi contadini in rivolta, portò a un generale indebolimento di queste terre, che ad un certo non furono più in grado di sostenere una valida difesa contro il dilagare impetuoso delle armate turche, che già avevano conquistato la Serbia nel 1389. Valacchia e Transilvania, strette da nemici molto più potenti, cercarono di destreggiarsi politicamente e diplomaticamente per non essere sopraffatte: di qui le alleanze di volta in volta con ungheresi, polacchi e ottomani. Uno dei sovrani valacchi, Vlad Tepes Dracula (1456-62), non si limitò ad agire in maniera politico-diplomatica ma oppose una strenua resistenza anche militare. Nato a Sighiçoara nel 1431, al centro della Romania, sui monti Carpazi, Dracula, il cui vero nome era Vlad Tepes Draculea, era un principe (voivoda) della Valacchia e della Transilvania. Il nome "Tepes" stava per "impalatore", il metodo da lui preferito per eliminare i nemici. "Draculea" invece voleva dire "piccolo drago", in quanto figlio di un "drago", il padre Dracul. Suo padre Vlad, eletto principe di Valacchia nel 1436, essendo appartenente all'ordine del Dragone, ottenuto dai sovrani ungheresi (1), da cui dipendeva, aveva il dovere di difendere la cristianità contro l'avanzata dei turchi nei Balcani. Tuttavia, non avendo forze sufficienti, spesso preferiva scendere a patti coi turchi, pagando tributi in natura o in denaro, finché ad un certo punto consegnò al sultano Murad II i suoi due figli come ostaggi, tra cui appunto il dodicenne Vlad Tepes, ottenendo dal sultano l'assicurazione che la Valacchia non sarebbe stata invasa. Dracula fu quindi educato alla corte del potente e corrotto sultano turco, e in seguito alla corte di Mohammed II, imparando così nella fortezza di Egrigoz, a usare il terrore come strumento di potere (2). Due episodi si ricordano di questa sua permanenza in Turchia: il primo quando, innamoratosi di una quattordicenne dell'harem del sultano, cui anch'egli apparteneva, non fece nulla per impedire che la ragazza venisse eliminata una volta che il sultano scoprì la relazione di lei col giovane Vlad; il secondo quando, per convincere il sultano che di lui poteva fidarsi, arrivò ad evirare e uccidere in pubblico un prigioniero polacco. (1) La Societas Draconis era stata fondata nel 1418 da re Sigismondo di Lussemburgo e da alcuni nobili ungheresi. (2) Pare che il fratello Radu, detto "il Bello", sia stato a lungo l'amante di Maometto II, figlio del sultano Murad. Quando Vlad tornò in patria, nel 1448, per prenderne possesso, con l'aiuto dei turchi, dopo la morte del padre, si trovò subito a dover fronteggiare l'ostilità dei boiardi del regno, i quali, elettori del principe, non riconoscevano un'autorità che s'imponeva di forza, senza il loro consenso, né erano disposti a cedere il potere a un principe che voleva superare il frazionamento feudale a vantaggio di uno Stato centralizzato. Sfruttando il malcontento contadino nei confronti dei grandi proprietari terrieri, Vlad, dopo un breve periodo passato in Moldavia perché sconfitto dai boiardi, decise di liberarsi in maniera risoluta di tutta l'opposizione. In una serata del 1459, dopo avere invitato 500 boiardi a cena, in segno di riappacificazione, li fece impalare tutti attorno al suo palazzo di Tirgoviste. L'impalamento, appreso in Turchia, consisteva nell'infilare un palo unto di miele su per l'intestino, finché usciva, senza ledere organi vitali, da una scapola: il palo veniva poi infisso nel terreno e l'agonia poteva durare giorni. Oltre all'impalamento Vlad usava altre torture ed esecuzioni capitali: scuoiamento, rogo, decapitazione, olio bollente, fino agli incendi dei villaggi. Si è calcolato che nel corso della sua vita mandò a morte almeno 100.000 persone, escludendo ovviamente i nemici caduti in battaglia. Particolarmente selvagge furono le persecuzioni nei confronti dei mercanti tedeschi, che dalla Transilvania scendevano in Valacchia: forse per questo le cronache sulle crudeltà di Vlad vengono quasi esclusivamente dalla Germania. Successivamente risolse, a suo modo, il problema dei questuanti del regno, riunendoli in un palazzo e dando loro fuoco. Sistemata la Valacchia, si trasferì in Transilvania, dove maggiore era il malcontento per le sue efferatezze, e qui, in una sola notte, fece impalare ben 20.000 persone. La prima moglie fu proprio una sedicenne transilvana, comprata per cento sacchetti d'oro, dalla quale ebbe due figli, prima che la donna si suicidasse gettandosi dalle mura del castello di Curtea de Arges, per la cui costruzione Dracula aveva organizzato una vera e propria deportazione di massa. La seconda moglie, sposata per ragioni di stato, fu invece una parente del re ungherese Mattia Corvino, che era disposto ad aiutarlo a condizione che lui s'impegnasse militarmente contro i turchi. Ma Dracula in realtà ebbe molte amanti, che spesso trattava con estrema durezza, come quando,, a una di origine zingara che gli confessò per gioco d'essere incinta, sbudellò il ventre per sincerarsene. Negli anni 1461-62 gli eserciti di Vlad fermarono a più riprese l'avanzata ottomana nei Balcani (suo fratello Radu combatteva invece a fianco dei turchi). Famose le battaglie di Giurgiu e di Turnu. Il 5 febbraio 1462 egli invia al re di Ungheria, Mattia Corvino, un racconto dettagliato di una spedizione anti-turca con annesse 23.000 teste, tra cui molte di donne e bambini. Dracula era molto coraggioso sul campo di battaglia, amava dirigere i propri soldati combattendo in prima fila. In quegli anni, con un esercito di soli 30.000 uomini, si oppose praticamente da solo al dilagare dei turchi, il cui esercito nei Balcani superava le 250.000 unità. Applicò anche con successo la tattica della terra bruciata, ritirandosi senza lasciare nulla all'avversario, colpendolo poi con azioni di guerriglia ( assalì di notte il campo di Maometto II, facendo migliaia di vittime) e frastornandolo con la guerra psicologica, come quando sbarrava la strada al nemico alzando muraglie di cadaveri di musulmani, presi prigionieri in precedenza. Nonostante queste vittorie, fu costretto a riparare in Transilvania, lasciando la Valacchia in mano turca. Gli ungheresi di Mattia Corvino pretendevano che Vlad si convertisse al cattolicesimo latino se voleva continuare a ricevere aiuti dalla chiesa romana (il cui papa allora era Pio II) e dagli stessi ungheresi. Vlad, che era del tutto indifferente alla religione, decide di convertirsi e partecipa negli anni 1462-74 ad altre campagne anti-turche. Nel 1476, grazie agli ungheresi, viene di nuovo messo sul trono di Valacchia, ma dopo due mesi muore in una battaglia nei pressi di Bucarest: sembrava avesse la meglio, ma, postosi su una collina per controllare dall'alto la situazione, fu scoperto e con l'aiuto di alcuni boiardi traditori venne ucciso. La testa gli fu tagliata e portata a Costantinopoli. Vlad venne sepolto da un gruppo di monaci nel monastero di Snagov, dove egli stesso avrebbe voluto. Subito fiorirono leggende su di lui e sulla maledizione di quel luogo. In realtà, per evitare profanazioni del cadavere, i monaci l'avevano sepolto in un'altra tomba, poco distante. Quando questa fu scoperta da due archeologi rumeni negli anni '30 del XX sec., di Vlad non era rimasto che un abito di seta gialla coi bottoni d'argento. Ancora oggi in Romania Vlad viene considerato un eroe dell'indipendenza nazionale, anzi in un certo senso il fondatore dello Stato nazionale rumeno, in quanto segnò il passaggio in Valacchia e Transilvania dallo stato medievale a quello moderno e centralizzato, con Bucarest che da borgo contadino si trasformò in capitale. Il mito del vampiro, di cui il conte Dracula è fortuito rappresentante, divenne un genere letterario verso la fine del Settecento, cioè ben prima del celebre romanzo di Bram Stoker, del 1897. Tuttavia, in Romania le tradizioni legate ai vampiri sono antichissime. Una diffusa idea voleva che la vita dopo la morte fosse molto simile a quella terrena; i morti viventi vagherebbero sulla terra non sotto forma di spiriti o di fantasmi, ma come persone fisicamente concrete. La stessa idea secondo cui un uomo è un vampiro se non mangia l'aglio, la si ritrova anche presso gli slavi meridionali. Nel passato il maggior numero di casi di vampirismo proveniva proprio dalla Transilvania del nord. E raggiunsero il loro culmine durante il XII sec., allorché la profanazione delle tombe era diventata un serio problema di ordine pubblico. In Europa occidentale gli studi ecclesiastici sul vampirismo cominciarono con le persecuzioni degli eretici durante la Controriforma. Nel Settecento, al tempo della sovrana Maria Teresa d'Austria, si sviluppò una sorta di "epidemia vampirica" in Moravia, dove i cadaveri di coloro ritenuti essere stati vampiri, venivano riesumati dalle loro tombe, trafitti con un paletto di legno al cuore e decapitati, infine ridotti in cenere. La prima volta che s'incontra il termine "vampiro" è infatti nel 1725, proprio in Moravia. Da notare che la prima vera trasposizione poetica del mito folklorico del vampiro si ha nel 1797 con la ballata Die Braut von Corinth (La sposa di Corinto) di Goethe. Dracula però in Romania non è mai stato considerato un "vampiro", ma, al contrario, un eroe nazionale. Scritti letterari su di lui s'incontrano fin dal 1574, nella ballata di Gaspar di Heltai e in un poema di Matthias Nagybanki, del 1560. Il principe Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723), nella sua opera Storia dell'impero ottomano, che ispirerà molto Le legende des siecles di V. Hugo, aveva dipinto Dracula come un baluardo contro il nemico musulmano. L'opera epica Tiganiada di Ion Budai-Deleanu (1760-1820) presenta il conte come un acerrimo nemico non solo degli oppressori turchi, ma anche, e addirittura, di ogni sorta di spiriti maligni e di vampiri. La leggenda che ha applicato al conte Dracula lo stereotipo del vampiro trova le sue premesse sul lago di Ginevra, allorché nel 1816, presso la villa Diodati, stavano passando insieme delle vacanze Percy B. Shelley, con la seconda moglie Mary, e Lord Byron (1788-1824), col suo medico personale, John Polidori (1795-1821), di origine italiana. In un'atmosfera decameroniana essi decisero d'inventarsi delle storie fantastiche per passare il tempo, e fu così che, sistemate sul piano letterario, nacquero il "Frankenstein" di Mary Shelley, nel 1817, capostipite tanto del romanzo d'orrore soprannaturale, quanto della moderna narrativa di fantascienza, e il "Vampiro" di Polidori, pubblicato, come novella, nel 1819, dove il protagonista, lord Ruthven, diventa l'assassino delle sue amanti. Byron si limitò a una storia di vampiri mai condotta a termine (il Frammento). Il successo di entrambi i racconti fu enorme, al punto che si ruppero i rapporti tra Byron e Polidori (quest'ultimo poi morirà suicida per debiti di gioco). Nel testo di Polidori il vampiro, da povero contadino ignorante, persecutore di vacche e parenti prossimi, frutto di superstizioni nate nei campi, viene trasformato in figura a tutto tondo, con il prestigio e il vigore di un archetipo, dove prevale un certo accostamento tra rapporto sessuale e vampirizzazione, nel senso che la vittima, una fanciulla indifesa, prima che dalla violenza del vampiro, è travolta dal suo fascino maschile, tipicamente romantico. E' forte la rappresentazione del dandy impenetrabile e seducente, la concezione dell'eroe maledetto e fatale, che rovina gli altri e se stesso. Goethe fu così entusiasta di questo libro che lo attribuì allo stesso Byron. Il vampiro della letteratura europea ottocentesca aveva l'aspetto di un aristocratico che combatteva contro la società borghese che lo stava progressivamente emarginando, declassando. Egli esige sangue perché il sangue è l'occupazione dell'aristocrazia, il sangue sparso in guerra e il sangue di famiglia. Uno dei primi che s'ispirò a Polidori fu E.T.A. Hoffmann, che col suo Vampyrismus (1828) introdusse la figura della donna vampiro (Empusa), associandola alla necrofagia. In Francia, già nel 1820, Charles Nodier mise in scena a Parigi, con straordinaria fortuna, una pièce teatrale tratta dal racconto di Polidori, intitolata Le Vampire; qualche anno dopo, scrisse un seguito al racconto, Lord Ruthven et les Vampires, nel quale faceva morire il sinistro personaggio mediante il classico impalamento su una pubblica piazza di Modena. Nel 1828 il suo dramma generò il libretto di un'opera dallo stesso titolo musicata dal tedesco H. A. Marschner, alcune delle cui arie, come la Chanson à boire du Vampire, divennero popolarissime (ma già nel 1801 un certo A. de Gasparini aveva messo in scena a Torino un dramma lirico intitolato Il Vampiro). Variazioni vampiriche sono presenti in Nikolaj Gogol che con Il Vij (1835) produce la sua novella più perfetta. Clarimonde, la morte amoreuse (1836) di Théophile Gautier è un racconto nel quale realtà e sogno si mescolano in una trama originale che piacque moltissimo a Baudelaire (nella cui poesia, peraltro, corrono potenti vene vampiriche). Molte ballate ispirate a vampiri vennero incluse da Prosper Mérimée in La Guzla (1827), centone di composizioni liriche popolareggianti presentate (falsamente) come traduzioni dall'illirico; lo stesso Mérimée affermò di essere stato testimone oculare, nel 1816, di un caso di vampirismo a Varbesk, in Serbia. E l'ombra del Vampiro aleggia su tutti i Chants de Maldoror (1868) di Lautréamont. Intanto, in Inghilterra, patria del romanzo gotico, il vampiro era entrato nei ranghi dei personaggi della nascente stampa popolare con una serie di dispense a puntate del genere horror, Varney the Vampyre del 1847, pubblicate anonime ma dovute probabilmente a Thomas Preskett Prest e James Malcolm Rymer. Del 1872 è il romanzo breve Carmilla dell'irlandese Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-73), uno dei maestri riconosciuti della narrativa soprannaturale, nel quale tutta la tematica ormai classica del vampiro - le nobili origini, il maniero perduto nella foresta, il sottofondo erotico (in questo caso legato a un sorprendente, per i tempi vittoriani, tema lesbico), la vittima inconsapevole, la tradizionale fine cruenta - sono concentrati e riassunti. E proprio la lettura di Carmilla sembra abbia ispirato, alla fine del secolo, la nascita del più celebre vampiro di tutti i tempi, quello di Stoker, per non parlare di tutta quella tradizione cinematografica che va da Dreyer a Vadim. Pietra miliare nella storia letteraria del vampirismo, resta indubbiamente il Dracula di Bram Stoker, giornalista irlandese, nato a Dublino nel 1847 e morto nel 1912. Stoker non si affidò soltanto alla propria immaginazione, ma fece anche ricorso alla storia, all'etnografia e al folklore. Egli, in tal senso, ammise il suo debito allo studioso ungherese Arminius Vambery, per aver collegato Dracula al vampiro. La sua descrizione fisica di Dracula è tutt'altro che romantica: è anzi una specie di uomo-lupo, con un che di sottilmente perverso, di virilità deviata, un diabolico seduttore. (1) Stoker scrisse in un certo senso l'ultimo grande romanzo gotico, una sorta di ponte tra l'orripilante romantico e il thrilling moderno. Ed è singolare che il più famoso romanzo dell'orrore in lingua inglese (e forse il più famoso in senso assoluto) sia stato scritto da un uomo che iniziò la sua carriera pubblicando I doveri degli impiegati nelle udienze per i reati minori in Irlanda. Stoker fu non solo il principale responsabile dello stereotipo Dracula-Vampiro (cui aggiunse una certa tendenza all'omosessualità), ma anche una fonte preziosa per tanti altri scrittori e cineasti che dopo di lui vollero riprendere il tema del vampirismo, da Vernon Lee (pseudonimo di Violet Piaget) a Horacio Quiroga, fino al Dracula del regista americano Coppola. Nel corso della seconda guerra mondiale gli alleati chiamarono col nome di "Operazione Dracula" una loro sanguinosa e devastante offensiva in Birmania e gli americani stamparono un'edizione in paperback del volume di Stoker destinata alle loro truppe. (1) Lo stesso Stoker fu segretamente innamorato di Henry Irving, il più grande attore teatrale dell'Inghilterra Vittoriana, per il quale lavorò anche come manager, senza però riuscire mai ad ammetterlo. Il vampirismo è frutto di una concezione superstiziosa che attribuisce le cause di un qualche rilevante problema sociale o naturale (maltempo, epidemia, guerra...) a una persona morta, i cui comportamenti, quand'era in vita, avevano avuto delle caratteristiche molto negative. Questa persona avrebbe il diritto di vendicarsi per delle possibili offese ricevute sulla terra. In pratica si credeva che ciò che non veniva punito da dio venisse fatto scontare dal diavolo. La presenza di uno o più vampiri va sempre messa in relazione a una qualche sciagura collettiva. La differenza, nelle concezioni del vampirismo, è che mentre in epoca pagana si pensava che il morto errasse sulla terra come uno zombie per espiare una colpa commessa in vita, viceversa in epoca cristiana le pregresse concezioni pagane associavano tale peregrinare a motivazioni di ordine sociale, che non riguardavano unicamente il vampiro in questione, ma tutta la comunità ch'egli da vivo aveva frequentato. Che il vampiro, per poter vivere, avesse bisogno di bere sangue, da sempre considerato fonte di vita, è indicativo del fatto che la presenza del vampiro veniva avvertita come una minaccia all'esistenza dell'intera comunità. Il sangue è simbolo di sofferenza e insieme di vita: chi lo beve ne trae giovamento e chi lo versa rischia di morire. Il nemico viene percepito come uno che succhia sangue, che toglie linfa vitale a una collettività. Era - come si può notare - una concezione prescientifica di un rapporto reale di sfruttamento. L'intero credo religioso del cristianesimo è fondato su una sorta di pasto cannibalico in cui la comunione tra un morto, ritenuto risorto, e i suoi seguaci, ancora vivi, si basa sulla consumazione simbolica (ritenuta misteriosamente reale da cattolici e da ortodossi) della sua carne e del suo sangue. Il rito eucaristico è una metafora del rapporto di comunione che dovrebbe esserci tra gli umani. Il vampiro è una specie di Cristo al negativo, un anticristo. L'associazione al pipistrello è successiva a questa concezione superstiziosa. La voce "vampiro" è di origine serbo-croata e serviva per designare una specie di pipistrelli ematofagi, conosciuti anche nelle mitologie egizia, scandinava, mesopotamica e cinese. Con sicurezza sappiamo che nel XVII sec. il pipistrello appariva strettamente legato al mondo dei morti. I vampiri erano dunque morti che potevano trasformarsi in pipistrelli, animali ripugnanti per definizione. Il licantropo invece è colui che si rifugia nel mondo animale per sfuggire alle contraddizioni della società umana basata sull'antagonismo delle classi e che vorrebbe far pagare a questa società gli effetti della propria frustrazione, della propria inadeguatezza. La strega è la variante femminile che subisce non solo il frutto di contraddizioni sociali tra uomini, ma anche quello delle contraddizioni esistenti tra i sessi. Oggi il termine vampirismo viene usato, metaforicamente, per indicare rapporti di sfruttamento economico tra una società capitalistica e una coloniale o neocoloniale. Più che il sangue vengono succhiate risorse umane e materiali. EDITORIA: Ivan Lantos, Dracula, Editoriale Nuova Marin Mincu, Il diario di Dracula, Bompiani Matei Cazacu, Il potere, la ferocia e la leggenda in "Storia e Dossier" n. 15 Massimo Introvigne, La stirpe di Dracula, Mondadori Erberto Petoia, Vampiri e Lupi mannari, Newton Compton Kim Newman, Anno Dracula, Fanucci G. van Swieten, Vampyrismus, Palermo 1988 C. Bordoni, Conversazioni sul vampiro, Neopoiesis Storie di vampiri, Newton Guido Crepax, Conte Dracula, Rizzoli Monica Petronio, Dai vampiri al conte Dracula, Sellerio G. Stoker, Dracula, Newton

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