About Dracula in Istanbul

The 1953 Turkish film Drakula İstanbul’da is one of the most faithful movie adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Gothic classic ever made. So film historian Ed Glaser was understandably surprised and fascinated to discover that it credited as its source material not Stoker’s Dracula, but an original Turkish novel called Kazıklı Voyvoda—here reprinted in English for the first time as Dracula in Istanbul: The Unauthorized Version of the Gothic Classic.

Kazıklı Voyvoda, he learned, was in fact a pirated version of Dracula. In 1928, Turkish author and poet Ali Rıza Seyfioğlu not only translated Stoker’s novel, but transformed it. He relocated the action from London to Istanbul, compressed the story, added new material—including completely original scenes and a substantial amount of Turkish nationalism—and traded Christianity for Islam. Seyfioğlu then published it as an original work, its title meaning “The Impaler Prince.” And it was the only translation of Dracula available in Turkey until 1998.

In Seyfioğlu’s story, a modern Istanbul is threatened by the invasion of the ancient vampire Vlad Dracula, and three veterans of the Turkish War of Independence are forced to avenge their nation against a hereditary enemy.

As the title suggests, Kazıklı Voyvoda establishes Dracula’s true identity as the historical warlord Vlad the Impaler. What’s more, it is the first adaptation to do so. The suggestion that Bram Stoker’s title character is actually Vlad Țepeș, 15th century prince of Wallachia, is thought to date back to 1956 and Bacil Kirtley’s essay “Dracula, the Monastic Chronicles and Slavic Folklore.” But Seyfioğlu made the connection independently 28 years earlier.

Thus, Seyfioğlu retells the story from the unique perspective of a people once routed by the actual Dracula. One original chapter of the book even details some of the very real atrocities committed by Vlad Ţepeş upon Turkish citizens.

Impressed by the book’s literary value and eager to read it for himself, Glaser worked with translator Necip Ateş to make this unique novel available for the first time outside its native country.

Dracula in Istanbul: The Unauthorized Version of the Gothic Classic presents the first ever translation into English of Seyfioğlu’s Kazıklı Voyvoda. With a foreword by Kim Newman, author of Anno Dracula; an introduction by Turkish translation scholar Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar; an afterword on the 1953 movie adaptation by film scholar Iain Robert Smith; and several rare photos from the film, Dracula in Istanbul is a rare combination of literary artifact and genuine entertainment. From movie and vampire buffs to literature scholars, there’s enough here to delight all the children of the night.

Contributors

Necip Ateş is a professional translator based in Turkey.

Ed Glaser is a Telly Award-winning filmmaker and film historian. He produces the online video series “Deja View” which showcases unauthorized foreign remakes of popular Hollywood films. He has written numerous essays on Turkish remake cinema and has been interviewed on the subject for CNN and the BBC.

Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar is a Professor in the Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. Her research interests are translation history and historiography, translation sociology, retranslation, periodical studies and reception studies. She is the author of The Politics and Poetics of Translation in Turkey, 1923-1960.

Kim Newman is an award-winning writer, critic, journalist, and broadcaster. His horror novels and short stories have won a number of industry “bests,” including the Bram Stoker Award for his best-selling Anno Dracula.

Ali Rıza Seyfioğlu (1879-1958) was a Turkish translator, novelist, historian and poet. The author of some 29 books, his writing frequently featured nationalist themes. Formerly a naval officer, he composed several works on Turkish naval history. In addition to Dracula, Seyfioğlu also adapted Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Beasts of Tarzan, taking similar artistic license.

Iain Robert Smith is Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London. He is author of The Hollywood Meme: Transnational Adaptations in World Cinema, and co-editor of Transnational Film Remakes and Media Across Borders.

Bram Stoker (1847-1912) was an Irish author, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as the personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.

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