The Icelandic Dracula: Bram Stoker’s vampire takes a second bite. When Valdimar Ásmundsson serialised the tale in 1901, he added sex, blood and Norse literature. Now, in Powers of Darkness, he’s been translated back—Colin Fleming, The Guardian; about Powers of Darkness by Valdimar Ásmundsson
Valdimar Ásmundsson, the founder, owner and editor of newspaper Fjallkonan decided in 1900 to serialise Dracula, and that he’d handle the translation himself. But Ásmundsson took more than a few liberties, and created a distant cousin of the book he was charged with rendering into Icelandic. His “translation”, Makt Myrkranna (Powers of Darkness), is so tonally different that you wonder if any translator before has had the gumption to go this far in reinventing an original text.
While Stoker’s novel has a lot of dialogue, Ásmundsson replaced the talk with a lot of walk; barrelhouse action, really. Jonathan Harker’s trip to Transylvania is two-thirds longer in Makt Myrkranna; the rest of the novel, conversely, has been massively reduced. The epistolary format of the original is replaced by an omniscient narrator. Adding an Icelandic twist, Ásmundsson has plonked in numerous references to Norse literature. There are fewer bromantic moments between Van Helsing and his vampire-chasing mates – and larger doses of lasciviousness.