Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dracula in World War 2

James Twitchell briefly discusses Richard Wasson's article, "The Politics of Dracula" (1966), in The Living Dead: A Study of the Vampire in Romantic Literature (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1981).

Twitchell sums up Wasson's critical reading of Bram Stoker's Dracula as "a parable of Old Central Europe destroying New Western Europe." (p. 139)

One item that caught my attention, however, was the issuing of Stoker's book during wartime:

Wasson's article is a critical tour de force, made perhaps risible by his contention that if such a reading were not true, how could we explain the fact that the United States army issued free copies of the book during World War 2? (p. 139)

I delved into this matter a bit, and came across an article by James Dourgarian called "Armed Services Editions", which has been reprinted on the Antiquarian Booksellers of America Association (ABBA) website. It discusses the United States Army's dissemination of paperbacks to its troops on the European and Pacific fronts. It notes that Dracula was published in two series: "No. L-25, 1944, and No. 851, 1945".

The ABBA website has a copy of one of these Armed Services Editions for sale. Its description reads thusly:

Going by Dourgarian's article we can establish that a) that the book is a second edition and b) that its publication date is actually 1945, not "circa 1944".

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