ASMUNDSSON, Valdimar. Makt Myrkranna.

(Reykjavik): Nokkrir prentarar, 1901.  First edition.  12mo.  210 [216] pages.  Preface by Bram Stoker.  A pleasing curiosity, that largely remained unknown until the 1980’s when it was discovered by Dracula scholars who thought it to be the first foreign translation of Dracula.  Further research has revealed that is a shortened and modified translation (with Icelandic elements added) of an earlier Dracula variant serialized in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladets Halfvecko-Upplaga in 1899–1900.  While Stoker’s novel has a lot of dialogue, Ásmundsson replaced the talk with a lot of walk; barrelhouse action, really. Jonathan Harker’s trip to Transylvania is two-thirds longer in Makt Myrkranna; the rest of the novel, conversely, has been massively reduced. The epistolary format of the original is replaced by an omniscient narrator. Adding an Icelandic twist, Ásmundsson has plonked in numerous references to Norse literature. There are fewer bromantic moments between Van Helsing and his vampire-chasing mates – and larger doses of lasciviousness.  In the preface to Makt Myrkranna, Stoker wrote: “I had to do no more than to remove some minor events that do not matter to the story, and so let the people involved report their experiences in the same plain manner in which these pages were originally written … otherwise I leave the manuscript unchanged.” Ásmundsson certainly did not leave the manuscript unchanged, but it is possible that he wasn’t working with Stoker’s final, much loved text.  The work interestingly also makes reference to what was first thought to be Jack Ripper, but is perhaps the Thames Torso Murders, a series of unsolved murders which occurred in London from 1887 to 1889.  A very good copy in the original binding, half cloth with mottled boards with gilt lettering to the spine.  An intriguing version of this classic that provides an illuminating look at an act of literary interpretation that in turn has created its own mysterious legend and strange lore, that begs for further research.


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