I’m still reading Dracula, and I’ve gotten to the most recent post, in which Dracula discusses his ancestry. This is a very interesting section, but as I read it I’m pretty sure that ol’ Bram didn’t actually know his history very well. Either that or he’s repeating historical theories that have since been discredited. The relevant passage is this:
We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the blood of many brave races who fought as the lion fights, for lordship. Here, in the whirlpool of European races, the Ugric tribe bore down from Iceland the fighting spirit which Thor and Wodin gave them, which their Berserkers displayed to such fell intent on the seaboards of Europe, aye, and of Asia and Africa too, till the peoples thought that the werewolves themselves had come. Here, too, when they came, they found the Huns, whose warlike fury had swept the earth like a living flame, till the dying peoples held that in their veins ran the blood of those old witches, who, expelled from Scythia had mated with the devils in the desert. Fools, fools! What devil or what witch was ever so great as Attila, whose blood is in these veins?” He held up his arms. “Is it a wonder that we were a conquering race, that we were proud, that when the Magyar, the Lombard, the Avar, the Bulgar, or the Turk poured his thousands on our frontiers, we drove them back?
A couple of points:
- Dracula calls himself a Szekely (Romanian secui), who are a Hungarian-speaking minority in Romania. Bram, of course, is free to make Dracula whatever he wants, but the historical “Dracula” Vlad Ţepeş was completely Romanian.
- Dracula seems to state that the “Ugric race” came from Iceland. What?
- He also claims to have been instrumental in protecting Hungary and Transylvania from invasion by various barbarians, especially the Turks. This part is true, both of the Szekely and, later, of the historical Vlad Dracula.
My feeling is that this passage contains a few other historical infelicities, but I’m not actually knowledgeable enough about the history of the region to say for sure.
The surname rings bells for me because Zoltan Szekely is one of my favorite violinists, a great interpreter of Bach and a friend of Bartok who, obviously, was Hungarian. Somewhere I have the old recording those two did with Benny Goodman of Bartok’s Contrasts for violin, clarinet, and piano. As yet the only Romanian composer I have had a chance to study is Gyorgy Kurtag.
I have yet to read Dracula. I own Nosferatu but haven’t gotten around to the book.
Iceland? Did he mean Finland?