Death and immortality in "Dracula's Diary": readings through "Corpus Hermeticum"




Corpus Hermeticum, Dacians, death, Dracula, immortality, Zalmoxis


The knowledge existent at present, which generates the need for a new approach to the myth of Dracula, refers to an almost unanimous reception based on the novel published in 1897 by Bram Stoker and on the tens of the subsequent portrayals which have induced a social and cultural paradigm standardized as commercial kitsch. Within this fictitious construct Dracula has been expounded in manifold keys. However, to ordinary perception, his figure is reduced to the semi-caricatural vampire character, the living-dead craving for blood. This article aims to answer a series of questions about the representations of Dracula and their relevance to the fields of cultural and literary studies: Which is the “real” Dracula? Which are the psychological, cultural, social and historical impulses determining the actions of the character and the established myth? To what extent the deeds of the personage can be accounted for through the instrumentality of psychological impetus and by the agency of cultural, philosophical, esoteric, and occult principles? Thus can the “real” Dracula be integrated into an ampler context of culture and civilization, where his alienation and his monstrosity belong less to the paradigm of “the other”, of “the stranger” and refer more to the revealing of some of “our” intimately repressed human features?
The article proposes a critical examination and reinterpretation of Dracula’s image, starting from the novel Jurnalul lui Dracula (Dracula’s Diary) (1992) by the Romanian writer and academic Marin Mincu. Original responses are being suggested to the questions defined previously – through several writing and literary theory techniques, including references to Corpus Hermeticum.
By comparing and contrasting the hermetic philosophical text and the Romanian novel, the essay aims at finding out whether the entire construct of the myth of Dracula can be explained through two cultural and philosophical aspects, namely death and immortality. It also offers a new reading, another conceptualization of a familiar but debatable subject, which reinterprets and even rejects the mainstream view. The work by the extremely well-informed Romanian academic, which was first published in Italy, has nothing in common with Bram Stoker’s (“vampiric falsification”, asserts the author in the preface…), but vividly portrays the “real” Dracula, the Prince Vlad the Impaler, imprisoned in the underground cave of a castle under the Budapest Danube, writing a journal between February, 2nd, 1463 and August, 28th, 1464. In his diary the character recalls his historical fate and legendary destiny through references to aspects of Romanian culture and civilization considered in a European context. For instance, the study approaches topics such as: the religion of Zalmoxis as the philosophical and existential foundation of the Romanians; Dacians’ attitude towards death, as described by Herodotus, which might have influenced Pythagoras, Socrates, the Eleusinian and the Orphic Mysteries; the boycott of history by the Romanian people (an echo from philosopher Lucian Blaga’s writings); the orality of the Romanian culture (as opposed to the written culture of the western Europe); the oral folkloric creations, the ballad Miorița (The Little Ewe) and the fairy-tale Tinerețe fără bătrânețe și viață fără de moarte (Youth without old age and life without death), etc. All of these are put forward within the humanistic, Renaissance context of the epoch, given that Dracula was a friend of Marsilio Ficino, Nicolaus Cusanus, Pope Pius II, Cosimo de’ Medici, etc. Researchers will discover new speculative themes and directions with regard to the seemingly exhausted myth of Dracula.

Author Biography

Lucian Vasile Bâgiu, "1 Decembrie 1918 University" of Alba Iulia

Lucian Vasile Bâgiu is a lecturer in Romanian language and literature at 1 Decembrie 1918 University of Alba Iulia, Romania and has been the journal manager of the Swedish Journal of Romanian Studies, Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University, since October 2016. He received a Ph.D. in Philology (Romanian literature) magna cum laude in 2006 from Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca. He became a member of the Romanian Writers’ Union in the same year. He has also occupied the position of lecturer of Romanian language at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim (2008-2011), Charles University in Prague (2012-2013), Lund University (2014-2017), and of tenured Senior Lecturer in Romanian Studies at Lund University (2020-2022). He is the author of several books on literary criticism, fiction, and language. Relevant publications include the following:

- Romania at Lund University, edited by Lucian Vasile Bâgiu, Alba Iulia, Aeternitas, 2019.

- Receptarea textului scris și oral. Manual de limba română pentru studenții străini / Understanding Written and Oral Texts. A textbook on the Romanian language for international students, Alba Iulia, Aeternitas, 2018.

- Introduction in the Study of Romanian Language. A textbook for foreign students, Alba Iulia,  Aeternitas, 2018.

- Despre Sebastian, Sorescu, Dosoftei, Derrida și limba română / On Sebastian, Sorescu, Dosoftei, Derrida and the Romanian language (Iași, TipoMoldova, 2016, award for monograph ex aequo, Romanian Writers’ Union, Alba-Hunedoara branch).

- Lucian Blaga și teatrul. Eseu despre absolutul estetic / Lucian Blaga and the Theater. An Essay on the Absolute Aesthetic (Iași, TipoMoldova, 2014, award for essay, Romanian Writers’ Union, Alba-Hunedoara branch).

- Valeriu Anania. Scriitorul / Valeriu Anania. The Writer (Cluj-Napoca, Limes, 2006, award for criticism and literary history, Romanian Writers’ Union, Alba-Hunedoara branch).

- Sânziana în Lumea Poveștilor / Sânziana in the World of Fairy-Tales (Iași, TipoMoldova, 2015).

- Bestiar. Salată orientală cu universitari închipuiţi / Bestiary. Oriental Salad with self-conceited Academics (București, Cartea Românească, 2008).


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How to Cite

Bâgiu, L. V. (2023). Death and immortality in "Dracula’s Diary": readings through "Corpus Hermeticum". Swedish Journal of Romanian Studies, 6(1), 283–311.