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Topic: Begin discussion of The Historian

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Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 6/22/2012 9:48 PM ET
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I thought she came out of her shell so to speak pretty darn easily for someone so sheltered. She just plunged into most things with just talk about feeling nervous ot scared or whatever but I don't think it ever stopped her. 

Date Posted: 6/22/2012 10:41 PM ET
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Honestly, I completely lost track of the daughter.  Once Paul's story was told and Vlad was dead, I lost interest in anything more.  Don't even remember how the thing ends.  I kinda zoned out, Helen and Paul got together, the daughter was born, now she knows, has a boyfriend, happily ever after, yada yada yada.

Date Posted: 6/24/2012 5:34 PM ET
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9. Helen's history is deeply intertwined with that of Dracula. In what ways are the two characters connected? Does she triumph over his legacy, or not?

I knew from round about the time Paul saw the portrait of Vlad that Helen was somehow related to him, for a while I thought maybe he was her father rather than her anscestor. I think maybe Vlad intended Helen to be his real historian or that he had plans for her beyond just a chase and research.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 6/24/2012 5:45 PM ET
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I don't know if she triumphed over his legacy, the book pretty much ended at the point in the story where she was free of him. Before that he ruled her life directly or indirectly. Most of her life was tainted by her pursuit of her father, who did what he did because of what Vlad did to him. Then when she found out it was Vlad's influence, not her father being a tool, she was obsessed with his hunt. Then she left her family because of him, leaving her child to pursue him. I think he ruled her life and either they didn't say much about her life after he was finally dead or I don't remember it so I don't think she really did overcome him at least in the story given. 

Date Posted: 6/24/2012 6:35 PM ET
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What Barb said.

Date Posted: 6/25/2012 3:31 PM ET
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The tattoo legacy intrigued me.   I mean to have the dragon on her body is permanent.   It was a legacy that stays with you.   I think over the generations most female members did not  know the meaning.   Like a force that you dont even know is controlling you. 

Date Posted: 6/26/2012 1:26 PM ET
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K last question for this book: In Chapter 73, Dracula states his credo: "History has taught us that the nature of man is evil, sublimely so." Do the characters and events of the novel prove or disprove this belief?

I think he is wrong. If the book proved any human trait it was curiosity. I just thought of this but there is a little bit of a connection between this story and The Odyssey. Every person who got a book and researched it even after trouble finds them is like Odysseus when he told his crew to tie him to the mast of the ship so he could hear the sirens. Even though they knew that it was dangerous they did it anyway and most of them did it out of pure curiosity.

Date Posted: 6/26/2012 2:23 PM ET
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I remember in high school that we read the Lord of the Flies, and the teacher Ms. STOTT, said that the story was based on the theory or premise, that man is basically evil.   Left to himself man will choose to spiral into decay and self destruction.   I remember being so offended by that statement.   Man is not evil, we all seek greater good and to do better.  Of course as a 16 year old we all want to change the world.  But a few weeks later, I realized two things, as this statement nagged at me...... 1.  she was right that was what the author was saying, Man is basically evil.  and 2.  to be really honest that was the Bible says too.  That we all have failed and fall short of perfection.... 

Isnt that what Dracula was also saying, Man is basically evil.   But the problem with that is that the only evil person I saw in this story was Dracula.  Well and all the people in the Ottoman empire, and that whole era.  But I dont think any of our characters were evil or gravitated toward evil choices.  

 

I think you are right Chris, this books real theme man is curious.  And Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back. 

Date Posted: 6/26/2012 4:24 PM ET
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I think that the theory that man is inherently evil is wrong. If it were true then we wouldn't have the society we have today. What we have was built on the need to cooperate with each other and to cooperate we have to be good to each other. While our very distant anscestors were forming our community nature they were left to themselves yet still managed to usher in a society where we more or less cooperate with each other. There are wars and there is killing but most of our lives are spent being good to each other and in the grand scheme of things a very small percentage of people commit those evil deeds.

I suppose it could boil down to the secular vs religious arguement where, on the religious side man is basically evil and we are supposed to strive to be good, because we are being watched by a higher power, and the secular side says we are inherently nuetral and through evolutionary training we have learned to be good, because that gets us a better result than killing each other willy nilly would. As a secular agnostic person I agree with the latter, we are basically nuetral and learn to do good things through the rewarding of behavior.

And speaking of The Odyssey, I think I might put The Iliad on the voting list for August. We've yet to do a classic and you can't get much more classic than The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 6/26/2012 4:47 PM ET
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I do believe man left to himself will end up a nasty tyrant if he is able, look at the Stanford Prison Experiment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment I don't believe in good or evil but I do believe man is a bastard at the core, societal rules keep us in check. 

I don't think the book works towards that though or even shows it. Everyone they came across was eager to help, even if it was dangerous for them. I would pick cooperation or helpfulness as the main trait shown. 

Date Posted: 6/26/2012 5:05 PM ET
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That experiment starts off with two levels of power, one set of people had all of the power one set of people had none. That isn't man left to his devices in an equitable manner. If you took a large group of people and dropped them off on an island with enough natural resources, Survivor doesn't count it's rigged to make them turn on each other, the majority of them would work together to survive. Cooperation is the best interest of humans so we instinctively cooperate. We can be made to work against our instincts but most animals can when given the right motivation. In the case of humans ideas like importance, race, power and religion are motivators to work against our cooperative nature.

Date Posted: 6/26/2012 6:15 PM ET
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I don't think the book proved or disproved men are good or evil.  I agree that the most prevalent trait shown was curiosity.  That is what I thought about most of the characters in the book, they just HAD to know!  I think a lot of us read mystery novels for a similar reason of discovery and unraveling the mystery.  It is like catnip to a cat.  We just can't help ourselves.

One more question I found on another site, Who is the Historian? 

Actually, I think it refers to Vlad and his library, the quest he had to find a new curator of his prize books.  He says at one point that he only gave the dragon book to those that might have what it would take to catalogue the library, and was looking for the one with enough curiosity to actually solve the mystery.

Date Posted: 6/26/2012 6:58 PM ET
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Yeah either Vlad is the historian or the narrator is.

Date Posted: 6/27/2012 12:09 PM ET
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The Historian is the person who wrote down the history as stated in the readers note.  They are writing down the history of what happened.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 6/27/2012 12:57 PM ET
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8ICj1MlMqQ

"People are bastard coated bastards with bastard filling"

One of my favorite lines ever. 

 

Ok, I don't get this. I reread the beginning notes of my copy of the book and it clearly says the daughter is the narrator. It says "This is the story of my father...". Is my copy different from you guys copies or did I forget what words mean? 

Date Posted: 6/27/2012 2:59 PM ET
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Yes the daughter is the narrator.

eta I remembered something else about Vlad, he was one of the first people to use germ warfare. He would send people with terrible illnesses into the enemy camps dressed as enemy soldiers and they would spread their diseases.



Last Edited on: 6/27/12 3:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/27/2012 3:14 PM ET
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Oh, I forgot about the germ warfare, that was very interesting part of the book.  I really enjoyed the book.  I thank Carole for recommending it.



Last Edited on: 6/27/12 3:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 6/27/2012 3:28 PM ET
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So it sounds like the things they credit him with in the book are true (well, up to the vampire part). Vlad sounds like a very crafy and intelligent leader, with a bit of psycho added. Very interesting man, I can see how he would become the stuff of legend. That doesn't make me any more interested in vampires that sparkle or solve crimes but it does him as a man. 

I liked the book too even if it wasn't as lofty as it's questions think it was (so far none of them have been, I think there is a flaw in the way these people write the questions). I enjoyed it because it was an interesting romp through history and not much about vampires, and I learned something. It seems a lot of you guys weren't impressed, what didn't you like about it? 



Last Edited on: 6/27/12 3:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/27/2012 5:02 PM ET
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It was far too long for the amount of story.  It moved too slowly with all the letters you had to read with different people talking all in first person, made it hard to keep up with who the "I" was.  It seemed to me to have too much emphasis on minutiae, with every little piddling detail explored to the fullest.   I seriously think that at least 200 pages could be edited out, and not hurt the overall story.

Date Posted: 6/27/2012 5:08 PM ET
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I can give at least a dozen examples of entire pages that could be dropped and not effect the story one bit. For example when Helen shoots the vampire and Paul goes on and on about how he had never really seen a person shot before but he had see thousands of indians die on tv and blah blah blah. If it were at least two hundred pages shorter it would have been a good and compelling read but as it is it's just boring. I think Readers Digest needs to get it hands on this book then it would be good.

Date Posted: 6/27/2012 8:01 PM ET
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I like what Barbara said

it was an interesting romp through history and not much about vampires, and I learned something.

 

Yes the history part about the monks, and the ottoman empire was great.  I enjoyed the travel too.

Date Posted: 6/30/2012 11:57 AM ET
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It looks like we covered it all. 

 

In General I liked the book.  I liked visiting the countries, and since I knew later there would be terrible wars in those areas later, seeing those areas before was interesting. 

 

I liked the letters that helped fill in the story.   I liked learning about the Ottoman empire and Vlad.  

 

I kinda thought the travels with the daughter and that hunk were bland, and I wanted to get to the end.

Date Posted: 6/30/2012 2:20 PM ET
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I would give it  three stars out of five.  Not bad, not great, too long.

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