At this time of year I always get asked the question: “Was Dracula real?”
Growing up in Transylvania, in a small town in the mountains, where old traditions are still preserved and even today, people gather and play cards in the graveyards on Easter night, definition of real has so many meanings.
As a child, when my grandmother was telling me that if I don’t come back before dinner time, the ‘strigoi’ will get me. Did I ever see one? Of course, with my imagination’s eyes, I can describe it even now. Was he real? My grandmother said so even if she could not really remember if she ever saw one.
And then, as I grew up, there was “Zburatorul,” a being that, if I was not careful enough, would come to torment me at night with the pain of longing, the torture of being away from the loved one…we all know some aspects of this kind of pain and it’s so very real when we feel it.
Bram Stoker deserves the credit for somehow putting all these (and many more) together in one man he named Dracula.
Is there any connection between the literary character and the Romanian voivode, Vlad The Impaler who managed to keep the Ottoman Empire at bay in the sixteenth century? Maybe. They are both very powerful men and Vlad is mentioned even now by people in Romania as a hero, whom we would welcome anytime to come back and put things right in the country.
During his time, his reputation as a just and decisive leader was so strong, that public fountains had golden cups (no one would dare to steal them) and no honest person would starve or lack a roof over their head.
Some described him as “no common man;” “the bravest of sons from the land beyond the forest;” “a mighty brain and an iron resolution.”
Does that make him a vampire? Does this make him real?
How do you know something or someone is really real?
I am looking forward to the talk this Saturday in Dublin, as part of the Bram Stoker Festival, where a variety of people will be trying to search for meanings into one of the most fascinating characters, which have inspired so many people and who, in my opinion, for that reason alone, is as real as one can be.
Note: If you find yourselves in Avignon, France, make sure to go and see the night show at the Pope’s Palace (some of the photos are taken there) … and ask yourselves what is reality?