It is only fitting that I start us off on The Haunted Summer Project 2009, and its companion exercise of Blog Stoker's DRACULA, with a remembrance of The Year Without A Summer.

You can't talk about DRACULA without talking about John Polidori's THE VAMPYRE, which came out of events in the summer of 1816.

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Wikipedia's article - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer - only touches briefly on the cultural effects of this natural phenomenon, theoretically caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora the year before.

http://perdurabo10.tripod.com/id1845.html

New England's reaction to 1816 can be found here:

http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/history/1816.htm

My inner geologist has always wrangled cooperatively with my inner sociologist. One of the current frequently-cited topics in the media nowadays is the effect of climate change, and thus something like my little project here could hardly be more timely, in holding a mirror up to human reactions to weather then and human reactions to weather now.

Extended periods of such weather as we expect for the entire coming week led to a little wager among friends back in 1816. A thoughtful article on the subject, although it is focused on the Shelleys, can be found here:

http://www.kimwoodbridge.com/maryshel/summer.shtml

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley gained lasting fame, but John Polidori's THE VAMPYRE, as forgotten as it may seem, made Bram Stoker's DRACULA possible.

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I'm not going to post the whole text of Polidori's work here, but it would behoove those Gentle Readers who are joining me for Blog Stoker's DRACULA to bone up on it. [Pun intended.]

A taste of Lord Ruthven and his appetites )

The complete text can be found here at Project Gutenberg.

To My Dear Friend

HOMMY-BEG


How these papers have been placed in sequence will be made manifest in the reading of them. All needless matters have been elimated, so that a history almost at variance with the possibilities of later-day belief may stand forth as simple fact. There is throughout no statement of past things wherein memory may err, for all the records chosen are exactly contemporary, given from the standpoints and within range of knowledge of those who made them.


[Project note - Stoker's most famous book is dedicated to his friend and fellow novelist Hall Caine, whose works enjoyed popularity in their day and formed the basis for a string of early 20th century films.]

Jonathan Harker's Journal
(Kept in shorthand)

3 May. Bistritz. - Left Munich at 8:35 p.m. on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk though the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible. The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most Western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule.

We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem., get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called "paprika hendl," and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians. I found my smattering of German very useful here; indeed, I don't know how I should be able to get on without it.

Having some time at my disposal... )

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