Dracula Daily, created by Matt Kirkland of Studio Kirkland, is a free e-mail subscription newsletter that sends chapters of Bram Stoker's 1897 classic epistolary novel, Dracula, to subscribers. The events of the novel take place between 3 May and 7 November of a single calendar year, but the events are not actually depicted in consecutive chronological order in the novel, instead frequently shuffling the sequence of events as the novel alternates between focusing on the points of view of different characters. The chapters of the novel are released according to the actual calendar dates given for each letter comprising the story, yielding the interesting result of a very different narrative experience for the reader, who learns more about the threat presented by the vampire, Count Dracula, in the same timeline that the characters themselves learn these things. The sensations of tension and dramatic irony operate differently due to this difference in the timing of each character's discovery of the truth that the Count is a vampire. Furthermore, many days feature no letters in the novel, and so they have no e-mail delivered to readers, meaning that readers share in the suspense of waiting for answers. This causes modern readers to feel more acutely aware of how slowly information and personal mail correspondence traveled across Europe in the 1890s, and how stressful it would have been for the characters to await news from each other. The only major deviation in the timeline is that the novel's epilogue is released within the same calendar year as the rest of the novel, rather than at a seven year delay, as it took place in the original text.
Kirkland developed the idea of serialising the novel, after he had already done so through interactions with his daughter, who would inquire about the latest happenings in Dracula as Kirkland was reading it. Dracula Daily had its first run in 2021, accruing for itself a small following of about 1600 subscribers, who then took pains to tell more people about the mailing list, in time for the recommencement of the novel in 2022, which had 200,000 subscribers as of 17 May 2022. The social media website tumblr developed into a fairly coherent (and massive) book club during the 2022 run of the novel, featuring extensive discussion threads and fan art posts aligned with the release of each new e-mail to readers. Discussions notably included analyses of the accuracy of train schedules Stoker included in the novel, tests of food recipes from the novel, dubious curiosity about the credentials and hobbies of Professor Abraham Van Helsing, and debate about whether paprika from Hungary is actually spicier than paprika from other parts of the world. Users of the site playfully expressed concern for the sake of "our mutual friend Jonathan Harker," even to the extent of making public posts of personal letters they were writing to the character, as though attempting to warn him and his companions about the vampire. In this capacity of epistolary roleplay, the tumblr participation in the mailing list became a sort of alternate reality game for users, many of whom went on to follow on Kirkland's example by serialising other works of classic (and classical) literature. The following is a non-comprehensive list of these mailing lists; please, reader, feel free to message with others you feel should be included. All of these are in the English language and lack any accompanying source text in original ancient languages. They also all feature an archive where the full texts may be read, without needing to wait for serialised e-mail releases.
- Frankenstein Daily for the novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, started in May 2022 by Substack user Addie Tsai
- Moby Dick Daily for the novel Moby Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville, started 7 November 2022
- Dangerous Liaisons Daily for Choderlos de Laclos' 1782 French epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, started in August 2022
- Silmarillion Daily for the mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien, started in September 2022
- Hom Hymn Daily* for Homeric Hymns, started in September 2022
- e-pistulae for the letters of Marcus Tullius Cicero, started in June 2022
- Ovid Daily for the complete works of Publius Ovidius Naso, started in May 2022
- Daily Kafka for the letters of Franz Kafka, started in September 2022
* Note that the Homeric Hymns do not have specific calendrical dates associated with their composition, unlike other works on this list, so the sequence and timing of e-mails from that particular mailing list is comparatively arbitrary, and have less effect on the overall experience of reading them.
As of the time of this writeup, Kirkland does intend to run the series again in 2023, so it is not too late to enjoy it in this format, though it is unclear if the 2023 release will prove to be such a significant phenomenon in online communities as it was in 2022.
Iron Noder 2022, 3/30