Dracula: Van ain’t the man

Dracula by Bram StokerThere I was yesterday afternoon, sitting – well, almost lying – by the window with my legs stretched out and a copy of Dracula by Bram Stoker resting on my stomach, open at page 447. Of all the parts of the story, this, the ending, was the one I was most familiar with, or so I thought. Everybody knows what happened to the Count, don’t they? Van Helsing walloped a big ol’ stake into his heart, and he crumbled to dust. It’s basic folklore, isn’t it?

Imagine my surprise, then, when… and here be a spoiler warning, so look away now if you’d rather not know what happens at the end of Dracula… Van Helsing stood by and watched as a mortally injured Quincey Morris, a young Texan, stuck a Bowie knife into the vampire’s chest, before triumphantly proclaiming “it was worth this to die!” and retiring for good. Jonathan Harker, meanwhile, sliced the Count’s head off, for good measure.

While I was grateful for the surprise, I was shocked and appalled at the misplaced glory that has been heaped on Van Helsing for so long. Granted, he offed the Brides of Dracula, but that was back on page 441 as a mere appetite-whetter for the book’s climax; and, besides, it’s not what he built his name on. No, he’s known as the number-one name in Drac killers, immortalised as the big cheese who sorts it in film after film. It just ain’t right.

And so begins my ‘Justice for Quincey’ campaign. Spread the word; let the general public know the name of the man who really stuck it to the Count – and what he did it with – and help change decades of big-screen misinformation. At the very least, amaze, astound and annoy folk when compiling the questions for your next pub quiz. Whatever you do, however you do it, remember that the history of vampire literature is at, um, stake. No, really…

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