Letter from Castle Dracula
The newsbullettin of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula
"No one has ever entered Transylvania to leave unchanged"
A Halloween in Transylvania - at the end of a society tour, at Castle Dracula in the Borgo Pass - does leave lasting memories (sprinkled ankles descending from the historical fortress Dracula - Poienari, to begin with.
We shall ask the survivors to agree to have their diaries quoted in the next issue of this newsletter. The density of events and the multiple initiations on the winding road to the Centre of the draculistic world, amid the great colours of the Carpathians, may compare to Dantes journeys to the worlds Beyond.
New TSD Vice-President
Prof.dr. Elizabeth Miller - Baroness of The House of Dracula,
President of the Canadian Chapter of our Society
has been nominated
TRANSYLVANIAN SOCIETY OF DRACULA - ROMANIA
- effective January the 1-st, 2002 -
Prof. Millers academic accomplishments and contribution to a scholarly approach to both the vampire lore and to the historical Vlad Dracula, in a world still dominated by confusions as to their identity, have determined the Inner Circle of the society (decisional body) to call her to superior duties.
The new vice-president replaces Prof. Andreia Costin, of Romania, to whom the society expresses gratitude for her incessant strive to fulfill the tasks set forth by the challenges of the cultural globalization.
?Prof. Millers new assignment involves the organization support and creation of TSD chapters and information points in Northern and Southern Americas, at the highest scholarly levels, attracting the cooperation of university professors, researchers, writers, media - in the interest of a rich cultural life of the members of the chapters, of all the romantics, of the scientific community. A particular accent will be placed on compared folklore, literature and cinematography.
Prof. Millers e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
Any courtesy shown to Prof. Miller in her new assignment is a courtesy to the Count.
The DRACULA-PARK project
November the 5-th, 2001
The Minister of Tourism informed the media about the contents of the "Dracula-Park" ("Dracula-land" had already been trade-marked by someone else, who demanded $500,000 to give it up).
Anticipating the press conference, the influential daily "Romania Libera" of Nov.5 published a full page of anti-"Dracula-park" articles, headed by a letter of "Mihai Eminescu Trust" - under the patronage of the Prince of Wales, signed by Jessica Douglas-Home (president of the Trust), H.C. Habermann, Steffen Mildner, Bonnie Burnham (president of the World Monuments Fund), Lois de Meril, Lord Dacre of Glanton (historian), Patrick Leigh-Fermour (writer), Lord Norwich (historian), Dr. Noel Malcolm (writer).
The letter was addressed to H.E. Ion Iliescu, president of Romania, on Oct.29, 2001, and expresses "profound concern about the rumours concerning approval given to a Dracula-land theme park, 1 km. away from Sighisoara. This project would involve mass-tourism in an area of cultural protection, threatening the whole structure of an important, perfectly conserved mediaeval town, - on the list of UNESCOs World Heritage. The destruction brought about by this project cannot be justified by dubious estimations of arrivals or by the creation of new jobs" "The Dracula-land Park will turn the history of Romania into a cartoon. Far from a reason to be proud of, it will ridicule Romania".
The letter suggests other locations for the project (Bran, Bistrita, Targoviste, Poienari) - as if the arguments against locating the park near Sighisoara would cease to be valid elsewhere.
Under this letter, and under a heading "Kitsch-tourism threatens the old burg", Saxon and Romanian personalities from Sighisoara (the chief priest of the Evangelic Church, rev. Hans Bruno Frohlich; Prof. Christa Richter; dr. Alexandru Gota - ecologist) reject the project on various grounds - one of which mentioning that the house presumed to have sheltered prince Vlad Dracul (1431 - 35) was actually built 200 years later, and that no documents confirm his sons birth in Sighisoara.
November the 6-th
All national dailies carried news on the "Dracula-park" project. Here is a summary of the contents:
The initiator of the Institute of Vampirology within the Dracula Park is Prof. Raymond McNally - says "The Wall Street Journal".
The Transylvanian Society of Dracula takes note of the diverging opinions regarding the opportunity of building a Dracula park in Romania, of its correct emplacement, of its consequences on the Romanian culture.
It does not take great insight to see that the Dracula park IS a horror park (horror house, catacombs, the castle, the institute, etc.) in spite of reassurances to the contrary.
But the main concern is cultural - the blend between the vampire lore and the Romanian history which vampirizes everything it touches - Vlad, his ancestors, his followers, Sighisoara itself (Saxon and Romanian alike), the whole of Romania (the castle is a 15 century reproduction, the jet-stake, the institute run by Raymond McNally, author of "In Search of Dracula" - the book which confused the vampire-count with Vlad, etc.).
It all does look like a cultural Chernobil.
The issue lies in the economic versus the cultural aspects of the project. It is obvious that the Ministry of Tourism masters the economics, but it is equally obvious that the Ministry is culturally ignorant. (It reminds of the story of the child who demolishes the house to build a tiny dam across the creek in the back of the garden, to play paper boats on, with friends).
What could one do when a ministry of the government has the official decree in its pocket to start the construction of a cultural Chernobil in the midst of its country? ("We are no longer afraid of historians, architects, ethnographers or journalists" - Matei-Agathon Dan, decree in hand).
Nothing at all?
The task of this society is to cooly record and monitor dracularian developments. When asked, TSD offered its opinion (emplace the park in the Borgo Pass, where Bram Stoker located the castle of the vampire-count; the area is neutral from a historic or cultural point of view, practically uninhabited, allowing the visitor to cross sites associated with both Draculas, therefore form an opinion of his/her own).
For reasons obscure, the choice was different. It seems to be too late to change the location, and too late to change the contents of the park. Or is it?
As we predicted, the Dracula offer has started to split, with peripheral sites like Poienari or Bistrita or the Borgo castle afraid of the competition posed by the park, feverishly designing their own mini-Dracula parks.
There is a major question yet unanswered: what chances has the cardboard castle in the park near Sighisoara in comparison with the historical fortress Dracula, Poienari, or the castle of the vampire-count in the Borgo Pass (or even castle Bran, of recent associations with Dracula)?
The public itself is going to split - between meaningful Dracula tours and the Dracula park.
The TSD will keep you abreast of the latest developments.
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