Letter from Castle Dracula
The newsbullettin of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula
Prof. Raymond McNally belongs to the gallery of history-makers. His merits in calling attention on the man whose name was appropriated by Bram Stoker to baptize his vampire-count, will forever be acknowledged, even if he could never get over the existence of two Draculas the historical one and the vampire-count (a supernatural category).
It is our hope that his life-time colleague and partner, Prof. Radu Florescu, will revise their common work in line with the latest discoveries on Prince Vlad Tepes Dracula.
The TSD will hold a moment of silence in his memory, during the III-rd World Dracula Congress, in May 2003.
It is the seventh time since our yearly pageant, Miss Transylvania is graced by the presence and leadership of HRH Prince Paul of Romania. Charmed by the idea of a Miss Transylvania who turns into Countess Dracula, the Prince accepted to preside the jury electing the fairest, to crown her and to open the ball with her, every year.
It has been agreed that the criteria will not so much be classical beauty, but the mystery of Transylvania embodied by a beautiful human being.
On October the 30-th, 2002, in the great, ornated restaurant of hotel Steaua in Sighisoara, in the centre of Transylvania, the VII-th edition of the Miss Transylvania pageant started in the presence of HRH Prince Paul of Romania, of the Mayor of Sighisoara Mr. Dorin Danesan, of other Sighisorean notabilities, of TSD officials, Romanian and foreign guests. The organizatorical effort fell, as usual, on the Sighisoara chapter of the TSD and on the family Gherca owners of Steaua and of the house in which the historical Prince Vlad Dracula was born.
There were no less than 16 candidates this time, one of them British Miss Lisa Wood (who won the Peoples Choice prize).
The title Miss Transylvania 2003 went to the mysterious beauty and personality of Miss Melinda Andreea Racz, 22, of Sighisoara. The next night, the Halloween night (at The Citadel in mediaeval Brasov) she was invested Countess Dracula, to be the pair of the Count for one year.
HRH Prince Paul of Romania suggested that next year the sister-cities of Sighisoara should send a candidate of their own, brought by the respective mayors and by fellow-citizens in a truly international pageant. Thus, from a small society event, meant to distinguish its Halloween programme from those of the competition, the pageant grew wings of its own and looks ready to challenge the world.
The Prince decided to post some pictures of this latest pageant on his website: www.printulpaulderomania.ro
The Count asked his society to prepare the official nomination of Mrs. Edith Staton, US citizen member of the TSD, Gl. Manager of Intrepid Travel, as Count Dracula Consul in North Port, Florida.
The investiture will take place during the III-rd World Dracula Congress, in May 2003.
The TSD members, the romantics, may already avail of the new Consuls services, as she followed an initiation tour of the society (and survived); her e-mail is: Intrepidtravel@aol.com (Our Consuls husband, Sir Fred Staton, is a Knight of The Order of Transylvanian Knights). Intrepid Travel is a partner of the Company of Mysterious Journeys (TSDs official tour-operator) and has the right to sell the society tours in both Americas.
This year, TSD celebrates 10 years since the first, Society initiation tours on Dracula have been made available to both the TSD members and the romantics at large.
The designers of these tours can vividly recall their genuine bafflement at the insistence of the first foreign visitors of Romania (1960) to be shown a certain castle Draculas. Whose castle? Bram Stokers novel was to be translated into Romanian 32 years later.
Ever since, these designers absorbed the knowledge, expectations, fears and hopes of thousands of Dracula buffs worldwide, crossing awkward moments (the experiments of 1974-76, when they scared dozens of groups by keeping them under showers of superstitions), learning that the historical Vlad Draculas fingerprints do not match those of the vampire-count (tours solely in the footsteps of the historical Dracula had no success), and that the entity attracting romantics to Transylvania is a vampire something the Romanian folklore does not have (the Romanians have the strigoi, roughly ghost, a kind of cousin of the vampire, performing the same role).
It took years to understand the roots of the vampire/ghost, their function, their contract with the humanity, their metamorphosis in literary and cinematographic works, their relationship with the devil and their grasp on the post-industrial world. This understanding could not have been possible without the patient support and cooperation of scholars and researchers in folklore, religion and socio-anthropology, in literary studies many of whom became founder-members of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula (1991), or executives in charge of the TSD chapters.
The purpose of the present initiation tours of the society is to inform, not to scare; they cover both Draculas (the supernatural vampire-count and the historical Vlad Dracula), in a series of initiations many times doubled by original shows. The tours are continuously updated with the latest research as revealed at the TSDs yearly symposiums, seminars, congresses. But they are also a fine pretext to see a country with a story in mind.
The TSD wishes to thank the actors performing its original shows, the guides, the partners offering accommodation, lavish meals and deluxe transport, the chapters in Romania stepping forth to meet the passing society tours, and the Count himself, who basks in the interest displayed by the romantic world. Last but not least, many thanks to our faithful tour-operator the Company of Mysterious Journey, which understands that each and every society tour implies the prestige of the TSD. May our partners abroad rest assured that the quality of these society tours will match the high expectations of their romantics into spiritual adventures.
The Company of Mysterious Journeys is a licensed Romanian tour-operator, running, from a logistic point of view, the tours designed and guided by the TSD (e-mail: email@example.com; tel/fax: +40/21.679.28.81).
(aired in Romania on November 10, 2002)
The Count escaped an attempt of the National Geographic TV Channel to pin him down with the generous cooperation of Hoggard Films (Alexandria, Virginia, the U.S.), producer.
There were, nevertheless, collateral victims: the Romanian folklore, whose many, differentiated categories of supernatural were invariably translated as vampire (the one supernatural category the Romanian folklore does not have); Bram Stoker who has so skillfully hidden his thorough knowledge of Prince Vlad Draculas life, so far; and the Prince himself who should pardon for having built two churches and for leaving the impression of a justice-ruler with his people.
The film agonizes between the correct information passed by interviewees (great scholars like Prof. Elizabeth Miller, Dr. Mark Benecke; simple people in the street) and a commentary forcing everything Romanian to be vampiric (not to mention incorrect historic and cultural information).
The Count of Dracula thanks the National Geographic Channel for failing to disclose his mystery.
The TSD will monitor the publication of an updated, scholarly biography on the historical Dracula comprising the latest research revealed at our symposium The Controversial Voyevode Vlad Dracula, the Impaler, of May 2001, at other events of the society. The biography will be in English (a separate edition in Romanian).
The second editorial project is an Annotated Dracula one in which, for the first time ever, Romanian scholars will comment the references to the Romanian geography, history, folklore made in Bram Stokers novel. The TSD will consider, among other options, grafting the annotations of the Romanian scholars, on an existing, merituous Annotation. Prof. Elizabeth Miller, Baroness of The House of Dracula, TSD vice-president and President of the Canadian chapter of the TSD, will be coordinating this project. The book will be Endorsed by the Transylvanian Society of Dracula.
(May 15-18, 2003, Transylvania, Romania)
The society has received the first offer of a paper to be delivered at the congress: <Good Places> and <Bad Places> in the Maramures habitat (<Locuri bune> si <Locuri rele> in habitatul Maramuresan), by Prof. Mihai Dancus, director of the Ethnographic Museum of Maramures (county in N-W Transylvania, a sanctuary of ancient traditions). The Organizing Committee will assess the proposal and announce the decission in the next issue of this bulletin.
To participate in/or to deliver a paper at the congress, please write to
Company of Mysterious Journeys