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What About Dracula? Romania’s Schizophrenic Dilemma

A distinguished and slightly bored gentleman, with short white hair and heavy rimmed glasses stood in the crowd waiting in the arrivals terminal at Henri Coanda International Airport in Otopeni. Speaking perfect English with a Bela Lugosi twang, Nicolae Paduraru, former chair of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula (TSD), smiled when he caught sight of his American guests who had paid for a Dracula tour in Romania: “Welcome to Bucharest! There’s no need to worry right now; however, tomorrow we’re going up into Transylvania”.

Prince vs. Vampire. A match made in Transylvania

Romania is best known to the world as Dracula’s country. But go there and ask about Dracula and you’ll be puzzled. The Count remained until very recently unknown in his own homeland. Romanian communists banned all vampire fiction until 1990. Even nowadays Romanians have a schizophrenic attitude towards Dracula. They are tempted to transform Dracula into a tourism agent to cash in Western money, but at the same time they’re afraid they may be bartering away their history.
Romania’s problem is that Dracula lived for real. He was neither a vampire, nor a count and never reigned in Transylvania. The stories about Vlad III Dracula, a 15th century warlord prince of Wallachia, a small Romanian principality, were horror best sellers long before Bram Stoker’s famous novel. “The complete fusion between the fictional Count and the historic figure of the Prince began in 1972, with the publishing of In Search of Dracula by Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally, two historians who argued that Bram Stoker based his vampire on Vlad”, says writer Elisabeth Miller.

Romania’s schizophrenic dilemma.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola is the most famous Dracula film in history. About the time Coppola’s movie appeared in 1992, Romanians were discovering they could market the fictional Dracula. The government planned to build a Dracula Park hoping to attract a million visitors per year. The project met a huge opposition and its supporters were forced to step back. Dracula Park: the essence of Romanian’s mixed feelings (opportunism and resentment) towards Dracula

This book also explores other interesting issues for any Dracula fan:

• Where is Transylvania and how did it become the land of vampires?
• Why Romanian communists banned Dracula as representative of the “decadent” West?
• How was Vlad Tepes myth built after 19th century
• Behind the scenes of the Dracula Park odyssey
• Dracula’s three castles in Romania
• What are the links between Stoker’s Dracula and the Eastern European roots of the vampire myths?
• What are the must-see places if you visit Romania in search of Dracula?

Vlad And The Vampire: The Eternal Double Life of Dracula

Author Catalin Gruia is a veteran journalist who has written and reported for over 10 years for the Romanian edition of National Geographic. His documentary: What about Dracula. Romania’s schizophrenic dilemma (that was the nucleus of this book) was translated into 17 languages.
Following an American tourist group searching for Dracula in Romania, the book explores places connected to the historical Prince Vlad Dracula III: Poienari (his fortress), Arefu (the village where locals helped him escape the Turks), Targoviste (his capital), Sighisoara (his birthplace), or Bucharest (the city he founded); and the realms of the fictional vampire Count: Bran Castle, Golden Crown Restaurant from Bistritz and Hotel Dracula Castle in Borgo Pass, etc

* For behind the scenes information about Gruia’s books –>https://www.facebook.com/ByCatalinGruia

Discussion

12 Responses to “What About Dracula? Romania’s Schizophrenic Dilemma”

  1. Partea cu mortu care isi muscase mana si se rasucise in mormant , din cate stiu eu azi se explica foarte usor si logic prin moartea clinica.

    http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moarte_clinic%C4%83

    Posted by Tamias | 18/10/2009, 14:50
  2. Dear Catalin,
    Thank you very much for the article on Dracula! I read it in a Russian version in National Geographic magazine and now i’m using an opportunity to tell you that the article is wonderful. Everybody must know the truth about Dracula and the truth is there. I especially like the end, the words by Mr. Paduraru about Draculas and an umbrella:).
    Multumesc mult:)
    Ekaterina Buley,
    the president of the Russian Chapter of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula

    Posted by Ekaterina | 17/02/2010, 13:01
    • I’m happy you liked it, my dear Ekaterina.
      This story owes a lot to Mr. Paduraru who was an incredible gentilmen and a source of inspiration for me.
      And probably for you as well.

      We have to dedicate this story to him!

      Posted by Catalin Gruia | 17/02/2010, 18:32
      • I had a chance to read Turkish translation of this beautiful NG article. Will I ever have a chance to dip into its English version?

        Posted by ibrahim | 13/03/2012, 17:52
  3. Yes,dear Catalin, he was a wonderful, a unique man. I joined the TSD in 2006 and since my first days in the Society I was really charmed by his intellect,charisma, talents and knowledge. I’m proud to be in this Society, started by him; of course, this story must be dedicated to Mr. Paduraru. His death is a terrible loss and grief for all of us.

    Posted by Ekaterina | 17/02/2010, 21:43
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