cover image Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula

Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula

Bram Stoker, trans. from the English by Valdimar Ásmundsson, trans. from the Icelandic by Hans Corneel de Roos. Overlook, $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4683-1336-9

First published in Iceland in 1901 under the title Makt Myrkranna (“Powers of Darkness”) but not discovered by English-speaking Dracula scholars until 1986, this early translation of Bram Stoker’s landmark vampire novel, retranslated into English for the first time, provides an illuminating look at an act of literary interpretation. Icelandic translator Valdimar Ásmundsson was faithful to the basic plot of Stoker’s story, but he took some liberties with its telling, including adding in new characters, having Dracula scheme with the world’s power elite to enslave the masses, and describing in lurid detail a bloody bacchanal involving the vampire and his cultists in the crypts beneath Castle Dracula. Noting that the Icelandic version features a preface by Stoker and some plot elements that Stoker mentioned in his story notes but later rejected, English translator de Roos speculates that Ásmundsson may have been working with an early draft of the novel. De Roos’s abundant annotations are insightful, and the translation, although pulpier than Stoker’s original, is a fascinating gloss on a literary classic. (Dec.)