Dracula tells the tale of a sinister Transylvanian aristocrat who seeks to retain his youth and strength by feeding off human blood. The author, Bram Stoker, a young Victorian theater professional, was probably inspired by the strange epidemic of vampirism that occurred in remote parts of Eastern Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. These stories were recounted by travelers who later arrived in England and other parts of Western Europe. Stoker initially meant the tale to be written as a play in which he wanted Sir Henry Irving, a leading Victorian actor, to play the role of the malevolent Count Dracula. However, as circumstances would have it, Irving never played the part and Stoker's story finally took the form of a novel. The book, published in 1897, is constructed in a very interesting format. The story is told via a set of letters, diary entries, ship's logs and newspaper reports. It begins with the journey of a young lawyer, Jonathan Harker, who is traveling to Transylvania on his legal firm's business, to finalize the transfer of a property in England to an East European aristocrat, Count Dracula. Harker is initially charmed by the suave and debonair count's hospitality, but gradually comes to realize Dracula's malevolent intentions.
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