Dracula – 1 – Jonathan Harker’s Journal

This is the dark tale of Count Dracula, told through chilling journal entries. It starts with Jonathan Harker’s visit to the Count’s castle.

Chapter 1 – Jonathan Harker’s Journal

May 3rd,
In the city of Bistritz

I left Munich at 8:35 P.M., on May 1st. I arrived in Vienna early the next morning. I should have arrived at 6:46, but the train was an hour late to Budapest.

Budapest seems like a wonderful place, judging by the glimpse that I got of it from the train window and the little time I had to walk through the streets. I didn’t want to go very far from the station because I had arrived so late, and the next train would be coming soon. The impression I had was that I was leaving the West and entering the East.

The next train was more punctual and I got to Klausenburgh after nightfall. Here, I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had a late dinner, which was chicken that was cooked with some kind of red pepper. It was very good, but a little dry. (Note to self: get the recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendl,” and that, because it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere. I’ve only studied German a little, but the little German I know has been quite useful so far. I don’t think I’d be able to get along with only English.

Back when I was in London, I had visited the British Museum. In the museum’s library, I browsed the books and maps about Transylvania. I thought that it might be good to get some knowledge about the country before visiting a nobleman there.

The nobleman that I am on my way to visit is Count Dracula. The district where he lives is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of Transylvania, Moldavia and Bukovina. It’s in the middle of the Carpathian Mountains, which are the wildest and least explored parts of Europe.

I wasn’t able to find a map that showed the exact location of Count Dracula’s castle, but I found that Bistritz, the neighboring town, is a fairly well-known place.

In this journal, I want to write detailed notes so that when I get back home to my darling Mina, I can tell her all about my travels.

According to my research, in Transylvania, there are four nationalities: the Saxons in the South, the Wallachs, the Magyars in the West, and the Szekelys in the East and North. I am going to where the latter live. Apparently, the Szekelys are decended from the Attila and the Huns. That makes sense because when the Magyars conquered the country in the eleventh century, they found that the Huns had settled in it.

I’ve heard that the country has imaginative superstitions. (Note to self: I must ask Count Dracula all about them.)

I didn’t sleep well, even though my bed was comfortable enough. I had all sorts of strange dreams, which may have been because there was a dog howling all night under my window. Or it may have been the paprika chicken. The dish was so dry that I had to drink several glasses of water… and I was still thirsty!

I didn’t fall into a deep sleep until morning, when I was woken up by a persistent knocking at my door.

I had breakfast at the hotel, which was more paprika, and a sort of porridge with corn flour that they said was “mamaliga,” and eggplant stuffed with ground meat which was called “impletata.” (Note to self: get the recipe for this one, too.)

I had to rush my breakfast because the train was scheduled to leave just before eight. I arrived at the station at 7:30, but I had to sit in the carriage for more than an hour before the train began to move. It seems to me that the further east you go, the less punctual the trains are. I wonder how late the trains would be if I went to the eastern coast of China.

All day long, the train dawdled through a country that was full of beauty. Sometimes I looked out the window and saw little towns or castles on the top of steep hills. Sometimes the train passed by rivers and streams that were so wide that they seemed to be flooded.

At every station, there were groups of people, sometimes crowds, in all sorts of clothes. Some of them were just like the farmers back home, or like the farmers in France and Germany. They had short jackets, round hats and homemade pants. But others were very fashionable. The women looked pretty, although most of them were kind of chubby. They had white shirts and big belts with fluttering cloth.

The most surprising figures were the Slovaks, with their big cowboy hats, baggy dirty-white pants, white linen shirts, and enormous leather belts. They wore high boots, and their pants were tucked into them. They had long black hair and thick black mustaches. They were fashionable, in a way.

It was twilight when we got to the town of Bistritz, which is a very interesting and old place.

Being near the border, it has had an unfortunate history. Fifty years ago, there were a series of great fires, which wreaked havoc on five separate occasions. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, it was surrounded by enemy soldiers for three straight weeks—a true siege. During that time, it lost 13,000 people, not only from war, but from famine and disease.

Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which I found, to my great delight, to be very old-fashioned. It was wonderful because I wanted to see as much history and culture as possible.

The hotel must have been expecting me, because when I got near the door, I faced a cheery-looking elderly woman in common clothes—a white dress with a long apron. Her clothes were a bit tight and revealing, rather than modest.

When I came close, she bowed and said, “The Englishman?”

“Yes,” I said, “Jonathan Harker.”

She smiled and gave some message to an elderly man in a white long-sleeved shirt, who had followed her to the door. He stepped away and immediately returned with a letter.

I opened the letter and read:

My Friend. Welcome to the Carpathian. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well tonight. At three o’clock tomorrow, a horse and coach will take you to Bukovina. At the Borgo Pass, my personal horse and carriage will be waiting for you. It will bring you to my castle. I hope that your journey from London has been pleasant. I’m sure you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land.
Your friend,

This classic novel was originally written in 1897 by Bram Stoker. It is in the public domain. Judy Shinohara rewrote this story so that upper-intermediate to advanced English students could enjoy reading it.


Published by Judy Shinohara

Hello! I’m Judy, living in Osaka! I love teaching English to my students. In my free time, I enjoy simple gardening, reading and writing, art, and watching Netflix.

17 thoughts on “Dracula – 1 – Jonathan Harker’s Journal

  1. Hi, thanks for leaving “いいね!” in my blog. I read your blog and found it very useful for English learners including me. I understand that I have to read English a lot, but cannot keep doing that for a long time because of many unknown words. Checking a dictionary many times makes me irritated and leads me to stop reading. However, I can read your rewriting fun stories without stopping. Thanks for your great works. I’m looking forward to the continuations and new stories. 🙂


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