WEEK 8 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS



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  1. #1
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    Default WEEK 8 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

    Well, we've reached the end folks! I'm a little sad to see the story come to an end, as well as this book club! But I'm also just as excited to hear what everyone thinks about the story and now we can talk about everything openly without fear of spoiling anything!

    Here are my questions:

    Dracula tells Rossi "History has taught us that the nature of man is evil, sublimely so. Good is not perfectible, but evil is." (roughly pg. 591) Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

    Dracula asks Rossi to work for him, cataloguing his library and becoming his historian as well as to work in the service of evil in order to "perfect" it. Would you accept Dracula's offer if you were in Rossi's position - why or why not? Do you think Rossi made the right decision?

    What do you make of Helen's tale? Do you think she made the right choices?

    What do you make of Paul's disappearance the day after Helen's funeral and the missing dagger?

    Do you think Barley and the author stayed in touch or got together romantically?

    In the crypt, Paul's daughter could understand Dracula when he spoke - why do you think this was possible for her?

    [b]When the author visits a museum in Philadelphia to see some of Bram Stoker's notes for Dracula and also looks through a late 14th century book about Dracula's exploits and evil deeds - when she's leaving the librarian runs out to give her the notebook she had accidently left behind and also hands her a dragon book. Thoughts? Does Dracula still live? Was Helen not successful when she shot him? Has another vampire taken his place and there will always be a Dracula?[b]

    It mentions that Dracula was able to become a member of the undead because of a heresy in the church and also a book that some monks had that showed him the secret to life in death.. it appears there were vampires before Dracula became a vampire himself, so was Dracula really the most powerful vampire, or was he merely one of many and there are some older and more powerful than Dracula?

    There seems to be many similarities in the generations of stories - for instance, Rossi was Paul's mentor, and Master James was Barley;s mentor - both mentors died and were mourned by their proteges. There are more such links throughout the book. Why do you think the author framed the book in this way? Is there a message in the pattern? If so, what do you think it is?

    At the end of the novel, we learn that Paul's daughter is named after Helen's mother.. but I forget if we ever learn her first name? If we still don't know her name by the end of the book - why do you think the author did this?

    Generally, what did you think of the book? Was it worth reading? Did you like it - what was your favorite or least favorite part? Will you read it againin the future? If you haven't read Kostova's second book - do you plan to after reading this one? Will you recommend this book to others? Any other thoughts??
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  3. #2
    Super Moderator sunshinejenn03's Avatar
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    Default Re: WEEK 8 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

    Dracula tells Rossi "History has taught us that the nature of man is evil, sublimely so. Good is not perfectible, but evil is." (roughly pg. 591) Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
    Yes. I think it would be easy to perfect evil, because evil is...evil. It's easy to be evil. Notice how the wrong decisions are usually the easiest ones to make?

    Dracula asks Rossi to work for him, cataloguing his library and becoming his historian as well as to work in the service of evil in order to "perfect" it. Would you accept Dracula's offer if you were in Rossi's position - why or why not? Do you think Rossi made the right decision?
    I don't know if I'd accept it, but I do think Rossi made the right -and tough- decision. Which goes back to my last statement. It shows that it was the right one, because he could have easily said yes, and he said "Never." It was hard for him to say no.

    What do you make of Helen's tale? Do you think she made the right choices?
    I guess in the end she did, because she ended up in the right place at the right time to shoot Dracula (though we find out it may not have been successful). But I think she did it out of fear more than anything and I thought that was wrong.

    What do you make of Paul's disappearance the day after Helen's funeral and the missing dagger?
    I believe he put it through her heart, to make sure she was really dead, and not undead, since she was bitten twice all those years ago. You can never be too sure.

    Do you think Barley and the author stayed in touch or got together romantically?
    No, for some reason, I don't. I think he was a part of her growing up in that period, but I think it probably ended at some point.

    In the crypt, Paul's daughter could understand Dracula when he spoke - why do you think this was possible for her?
    That's her great-great-∞-grandfather and he's of her blood.

    When the author visits a museum in Philadelphia to see some of Bram Stoker's notes for Dracula and also looks through a late 14th century book about Dracula's exploits and evil deeds - when she's leaving the librarian runs out to give her the notebook she had accidently left behind and also hands her a dragon book. Thoughts? Does Dracula still live? Was Helen not successful when she shot him? Has another vampire taken his place and there will always be a Dracula?
    I think once you're undead, you're undead.

    There seems to be many similarities in the generations of stories - for instance, Rossi was Paul's mentor, and Master James was Barley;s mentor - both mentors died and were mourned by their proteges. There are more such links throughout the book. Why do you think the author framed the book in this way? Is there a message in the pattern? If so, what do you think it is?
    Well, history is said to repeat itself and the theme of this book is History, so I'm going with that.

    At the end of the novel, we learn that Paul's daughter is named after Helen's mother.. but I forget if we ever learn her first name? If we still don't know her name by the end of the book - why do you think the author did this?
    I think we do learn her name, but I'll have to double-check. I know we find out her last name.


    Generally, what did you think of the book? Was it worth reading? Did you like it - what was your favorite or least favorite part? Will you read it againin the future? If you haven't read Kostova's second book - do you plan to after reading this one? Will you recommend this book to others? Any other thoughts??
    I had a hard time getting into at times. It was well-written, but sometimes it was too well-written, if that makes sense? Like the author spent so much time describing things that I'd get lost and have to go back and reread to understand her point or where the characters were at. It made it a little confusing. My favorite parts of the book were when they met Helen's aunt and mother, Turgut, and of course from the point when they found Rossi and on. I would recommend this book to friends, definitely, with a warning to stick with it, because it IS good.



    What's interesting is that all throughout the book, I thought it was named for the narrator. At the end, I realized it was named for Dracula, he's The Historian!


  4. #3
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    Default Re: WEEK 8 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

    I'm come back and comment some more, but that struck me too, about the title, the first time I read it.. and then this time around I realized.. The Historian, each dragon book was given to an historian and even though Dracula is technically "The Historian" - he wouldn't have gotten where he is today - meaning such a well learned vampire with such an immense collection of books and knowledge - without all the other historians he comes in contact with.

    I thought it was interesting that the author received a dragon book of her own.. it reminded me of when Dracula asked her if she wanted to join him, if Paul didn't. I actually forgot the ending since I read it back in 2006, haha!

    I kind of think that Helen did kill Dracula.. since when she shot him he turned to dust.. but then I know he's also able to change shape, like to turn into fog/mist and other things, so maybe he just turned himself to dust so they would think he had died. So I'm 50/50 on the whole thing, i guess. One of my theories if Dracula really did die that day, is that Dracula always has like a second vampire (like Erozan the librarian really idolized him and wanted to be with Dracula, etc, where I don't think Erozan was the second vampire, I'm just saying that it would be a vampire like him except more powerful and more connected to Dracula), a vampire that would BECOME Dracula as soon as the previous Dracula was killed. I tihnk this is one of the reasons it is so important for Dracula to collect his history, so the vampire can study it and learn from it, and really become Dracula as much as possible, in order to keep on carrying on the legacy.

    I really love this book and I recommend it to people all the time. The only thing that bothers me about it, is I feel like for everything we DO learn about Ottoman history and vampire lore and stuff.. there's still so many mysteries and questions left unanswered. Like how did Dracula become undead - he obviously wasn't the first, but was he really the most powerful? Who's passing out the books, Dracula or someone else? is the theory I posed above true or something else going on?

    Also about the authors name.. I know we learn the family name is Getzi, and I vaguely remember Helen's mom telling Rossi her name when they first met in the woods? but I can't for the life of me remember what it is. Also, I can understand not saying the name in the beginning, because it would've revealed the whole thing about how Helen had gotten pregnant and named her kid after her mom.. but after we learn that, why STILL not say the name? I keep feeling like it's supposed to MEAN something symbolically in some way, but I'm not getting it. What's interesting is that when I first read the book, this didn't bother me at all, in fact, I don't even think I noticed it .. it's like everything else about the book just swept me off my feet, this oversight of the author's name not being said didn't even register with me, and if it did, it didn't seem odd. I think this time around it irritated me more because this time I was looking for details and stuff so I could write discussion questions, so my perspective on reading was slightly different.
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  6. #4
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    Default Re: WEEK 8 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireflywishes
    I kind of think that Helen did kill Dracula.. since when she shot him he turned to dust.. but then I know he's also able to change shape, like to turn into fog/mist and other things, so maybe he just turned himself to dust so they would think he had died.
    I thought this too. Maybe it's a game for him? How else do you spend your centuries?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireflywishes
    Also about the authors name.. I know we learn the family name is Getzi, and I vaguely remember Helen's mom telling Rossi her name when they first met in the woods? but I can't for the life of me remember what it is. Also, I can understand not saying the name in the beginning, because it would've revealed the whole thing about how Helen had gotten pregnant and named her kid after her mom.. but after we learn that, why STILL not say the name? I keep feeling like it's supposed to MEAN something symbolically in some way, but I'm not getting it. What's interesting is that when I first read the book, this didn't bother me at all, in fact, I don't even think I noticed it .. it's like everything else about the book just swept me off my feet, this oversight of the author's name not being said didn't even register with me, and if it did, it didn't seem odd. I think this time around it irritated me more because this time I was looking for details and stuff so I could write discussion questions, so my perspective on reading was slightly different.
    I went back and reread and we don't find Helen's mother's name. She says to Rossi "I'm of the family Getzi" and that's it. So unless Helen mentions it somewhere else, we never know.

  7. #5
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    Default Re: WEEK 8 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

    I don't think we ever know the author's name....I stand by my earlier theory regarding Elizabeth Kostova wanting us to somehow believe that this book - although fiction - portrays her life....

    I firmly believe that Dracula did not die, he is, after all, the supreme undead. Maybe he took some time to recover, but throughout the book, he seemed to be less vulnerable to the traditional anti-vampire things than others did, so surviving the final encounter is feasible - at least to my mind.
    The fact that the author receives the book at the end - as an adult, middle-aged person - further underscores for me that one can never kill Dracula, so the quest can now begin anew - should she choose to pursue it.

    Now the romantic in me comes back to Barley....I'm sad that he & the author did not marry ultimately. I looked at them as the next generation Paul & Helen....

    It was a good story and nicely written. I think Ms. Kostova writes well and her structure of shorter chapters with multiple stories entwining in very engaging for the reader. It reminds me of the classic sort of Russian novels - Anna Karenina, et al - so it got me thinking, I wonder if she is Russian? I read The Swan Thieves first and I think (as I run for cover) that I enjoyed it more...although the ending was a bit too "neat" I found it a better read.

    Nonetheless, I enjoyed The Historian and I really enjoyed the book club. So MANY THANKS to Fireflywishes...you did an awesome job. arty:

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    Default Re: WEEK 8 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

    I'm kinda said that it didn't explicitly say that they stayed together.. but optimist that I am I say even though she didn't mention Barley doesn't mean they didn't remain good friends or they didn't stay together LOL I know, I know, I'm probably in denial..

    Something definitely happened with Dracula.. I don't know whether he didn't die when Helen shot him, or if there is always the protege waiting in the wings for when something DOES happen to him.. I can't help but think that might be one of the reasons he forces/encourages people to study his history and collects it so urgently and fervently. I know Dracula says he wants to perfect evil, but it also would serve him well to have someone so intimate with knowledge of who he is, that they could step into his shoes at a moments notice and continue the legacy.

    I agree with you that this is supposed to sound like a story that has it's basis in reality. But we know the last name is Getzi, so it just behooves me why Kostova would go through such lengths to make us believe it was a family history, and then use a fake last name? I think it would've served her purposes more to use the name Kostova and then not use the first name at all (like she did) but to use the name Getzi and than to not use the first name at all.. I don't know, I wish she would've gone one way or the other you know? instead of walking the fence - lol I mean I know realistically that this is total fiction, but in the way she wrote it, I wish she would've crossed the fence one way or the other.

    I enjoyed the Swan Thieves, but for me, it didn't have the scope of The Historian, I couldn't get into it as well as I could this book, it was definitely worth the read though, and Kostova is an excellent writer no matter how you slice it, but this book.. it's like eating a great piece of chocolate, it's rich and vibrant and you can almost taste and see the things she describes, I didn't have near as visceral an experience when I read The Swan Thieves.

    Thank you PFMdg!! Glad you had a great time, I had tons of fun doing it and I'm glad it worked out for us to do it!
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