Original Wraps. London: Archibald Constable and Company, 1901. Very Good.
First paperback edition, abridged from original text. Publisher’s pale green pictorial wrappers, with illustration of Dracula crawling down the side of his castle to front wrapper, printed in black, and six pages of advertisements to rear. Very good, with light toning and wear to spine, shallow chipping to spine ends, some light creasing to wrapper edges, a touch of staining to bottom left of front wrapper, previous owner’s signature to top of front wrapper in black ink, and some light toning to pages. Overall, an exceptional and unrestored copy of this very scarce and significant early edition of Dracula. Housed in a custom brown pictorial clamshell box. Dracula is a Gothic horror novel by Bram Stoker, marking the literary debut of the vampire character Count Dracula. Written in epistolary format through a series of letters and journal entries, the story begins when the English solicitor Jonathan Harker visits Count Dracula at his castle in Transylvania to assist with a real estate transaction, unaware that the tall, charming gentleman poses him any threat. However, after haunting encounters with three undead women and Dracula himself, Harker finds that he has become a prisoner in the castle, and narrowly escapes only after Dracula sets off on a journey to find new victims in England. While Harker makes his way back home, his fiancée Mina is preoccupied by her friend Lucy Westenra's strange behavior; excessive sleepwalking, weakness, and unexplained punctures in her neck lead Mina to suspect a grave kind of danger. Mina, with the help of Lucy's three suitors, calls upon Professor Van Helsing to diagnose her friend's illness, and it is only then that the nature of the problem becomes clear: Lucy is slowly being turned into a vampire. Failed attempts to save her lead the group, with the help of the since-returned Jonathan Harker, to embark on a quest to rid England of the vampiric curse for good, aiming to kill Count Dracula himself. Stoker's writing in Dracula employs the techniques of a number of genres, most prominently horror, but also including invasion literature, which was popular in the British Empire in the late 19th century and was marked by symbolic portrayals of foreign enemies arriving in England. Though the book received only moderate critical acclaim upon its publication, a film adaptation in 1931 starring Bela Lugosi propelled the story into the spotlight of popular culture. Now, Dracula is regarded as one of the most iconic and influential pieces of 19th century literature, with a legacy that continues to grow more than a century after its initial publication. This first paperback edition of Dracula was published only four years after the true first edition (1897). Archibald Constable & Company requested that the text be abridged so that it would be cheaper to produce (the abridged text was set in double columns with six-point font) and more readable. Stoker himself abridged the text, paring it down from 162,000 to 137,000 words (~15%). Stoker also approved the illustration on the front wrapper, which features the first printed illustration of Dracula. In the image, Dracula crawls down the wall of his castle, while an imprisoned Jonathan Harker watches from an iron-barred window. This illustration of Dracula helped establish attributes - including pointy ears and a bat-like cape - that have come to be synonymous with the character. This abridged edition of the text, which has only been reprinted once (in 1994 by Transylvania Press, renamed Dracula: The Rare Text of 1901), offers unique insight into what Stoker considered to be the most essential aspects of the novel. The edition is exceedingly scarce, with Robert Eighteen-Bisang, one of the most prominent scholars and collectors of vampire literature, writing that “copies of the [paperback] edition are as rare as autographed first editions of Dracula.”. Item #BS008