Final Thoughts on The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

As we close The Historian we discover that the title does not refer to Professor Rossi, nor his student, nor the daughter who has recorded their story. No, the historian is Drakula himself. He states his purpose by saying, “I have become an historian in order to preserve my own history forever.” Like all megalomaniacs, such as Napoleon, Stalin, or Hitler, Drakula’s evil intentions can be traced to selfishness in the extreme. “I vowed to make history, not to be its victim,” Drakula declares. Indeed, he’d rather leave a wake of victims behind him than become one himself.

But, it occurs to me that as often as we are surrounded by evil, we are apt to invite it into our own lives. In pursuing their intellectual curiosity, each character in this novel was lured into Drakula’s lair. He tells them, “You would not be here if you had not wanted to come…you have brought yourself.”

Which brings me to the saving grace, pictured on my edition above as well as within the text itself: the crucifix.

“Where the nearly healed wound had been, in the deepest part of her neck, two small gashes oozed, red and open. There was a little blood on the edge of the white sheet, too, and more on the sleeve of her cheap-looking white gown, where she’d thrown one arm back in her sleep… 

” ‘Helen!’ I shook her shoulder gently, but her face did not change. I saw now how haggard she looked, as if she were in pain even in her sleep. Where was the crucifix? I remembered it suddenly, and looked all around. I found it by my foot; the narrow chain was broken. Had someone torn it off, or had she broken it herself in sleep?” (p. 521)

One of my favorite parts of The Historian, or in fact any Dracula story, is the crucifix. Even evil in its extreme is not only aware of the power of the cross, but is daunted by its very existence. Why does a secular book include such a sacred object? Why does Elizabeth Kostova include the power of the cross as does Bram Stoker and others who have written of Drakula?

The Bible tells us: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise: the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 1 Corinthians 1: 18-19

Even that of he who calls himself the Historian.

(I loved rereading this novel with Andi and others who joined in with her at The Estella Society. I have taken the liberty, once again, of writing my own thoughts about this excellent novel. You can find other thoughts and more discussion at her site on October 14.)

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4 thoughts on “Final Thoughts on The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova”

  1. I LOVE THIS POST! Even though I struggled with this book, I was a little surprised (and delighted) that the power of the cross was included when it's excluded from so many other contemporary vampire tellings. Thank you for joining us, Bellezza!

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  2. This was a reread for me as well, even though I ended up taking my sweet time to finish it the second time. It was great sharing the book with everyone through the read along.

    While I am not Christian, I appreciated the cross being used as a ward and source of comfort and good in this book. I would have liked to know more about Dracula and his connection to 'his monks', but the mystery of him, worked well for most of the book.

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