Plot summary Edit How these papers have been placed in sequence will be made manifest in the reading of them. All needless matters have been eliminated so that a history almost at variance with the possibilities of latter-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 stand-points and within the range of knowledge of those who made them. The narrator finds an old vellum -bound book with a woodcut of a dragon in the center associated with Dracula. When she asks her father Paul about it, he tells her how he found the handmade book in his study carrel when he was a graduate student in the s. Paul took the book to his mentor, Professor Bartholomew Rossi, and was shocked to find that Rossi had found a similar handmade book when he was a graduate student in the s.

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She was right. Shelves: punching-tour , monsters , reviewed , motherless-daughters This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. You know youve been in school too long when you write a vampire novel in which Draculas ultimate threat is to force his victims to catalog his extensive library of antique books. On the other hand, after finishing The Historian, and its detailed Vlad the Impaler research, Im willing to consider that threat as akin to impalement.

If Kostovas references to Henry James did not reveal her as an admirer of his, then its sprawling prose, vague plot, and sexually confused characters would have. While imitation of Henry James is not enough in itself to make me wish undeath on an author, it sucked the blood out of this adventure.

Kostova writes The Historian in epistolary form, primarily through letters from a father historian to a daughter presumably historian. Whether the history and geography is true or not, the sheer volume of trivia padding this book and the work it had to have taken to put it all together is confounding. Even with the impressive research, this story is Scooby Doo with no Scooby Snacks. Rather, they make appearances in goofy disguises in libraries and cafes to give books and other clues to especially promising young historians, inspiring the recipients to begin insatiable quests to find out more about this Dracula fellow.

Then, Dracula inevitably shows up again to slap people around a little, so that the historians will be too afraid to continue their research. Stop the mind games, Dracula! Paul describes this meeting to his daughter in chapter He was taller than I, with thick brown hair and the confident posture of a man who loves his own virility — he would have been magnificent on horseback, riding across the plains with herds of sheep, I thought.

If the author of the quote had been a man, I would encourage him to openly write gay characters rather than making his characters marry to hide their sexuality.

It is true that because of the vagueness of the plot and the epistolary structure, entire chapters and characters could be cut from this book without losing any story. Beyond its rambling descriptions, however, The Historian flounders as a vampire story.

Thirst is the most basic human experience, and all vampires started as humans. Theoretically, thirst or, more broadly, desire could become evil in anyone; and, therefore, of all monsters we most easily identify with vampires.

In The Historian, however, I am left with the impression that if those historians left poor Dracula alone, he would have just kept collecting books.

It was ultimately the research and study, not Dracula himself, that took the historians away from their loved ones and almost destroyed them.



According to Kostova, "It was the formative experience of my childhood. Her mother, a librarian, frequently took her and her sisters to the public library—they were each allowed to check out 30 books and had a special shelf for their library books. As an undergraduate at Yale, she sang in and directed a Slavic chorus. The recordings they made will be deposited in the Library of Congress. What if Dracula was still alive?


Elizabeth Kostova



The Historian




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