The Icelandic version of Dracula

Three copies of the first print of Makt myrkranna in my collection
Three copies of the first print of Makt myrkranna in my collection

After Dracula was released in London by Constable & Co. on 26 May 1897, Stoker's novel would start on a long journey across various languages and countries. Before the Hungarian and the Swedish versions were detected, the Icelandic variant of Dracula was thought to be the first foreign translation. Under the title Makt myrkranna, a little book was produced by Nokkri Prentarar in Reykjavik in 1901. In 1986, Richard Dalby surprised the community of Dracula scholars and fans by including its preface in his Bram Stoker Omnibus, in an English translation by Joel H. Emerson. While the Constable edition featured only a short, unsigned prefatory note, the Icelandic preface was much more outspoken aboutthe novel's claim of factuality. Moreover, it mentioned the murders by Jack the Ripper and suggested a connection with the plot of the novel, although the text of Dracula never mentioned the Whitechapel Murders. Because of this puzzling remark, the Icelandic title would reach a certain fame, although Dalby typified it as a "cheaply produced" and "extremely abridged" translation of the original. This judgement was accepted by all Stoker bibliographers; amazingly enough, no experts ever cared to look into the rest of the Icelandic story.


This only changed when I was working on an essay about Stoker's truth claim and decided to check the accuracy of Dalby's translation. After receiving a scan of the Icelandic preface from the Reykjavik City Library, I typed out the Icelandic text, putting it in next to Dalby's translation, leaving a third column for my own efforts. As I thought that someone else might already have published about this text, I entered some phrases into the Google search mask and was surprised to find that the very same preface had been published in an Icelandic newspaper, along with the rest of the novel, before the book edition had been published. When I put some random paragraphs of the narrative into the Google Translator, it returned descriptions and scenes I did not know from Stoker's novel: obviously, Makt myrkranna was no (shortened) translation, but a modification. I published my first findings in the Letter from Castle Dracula and started an ambitious translation project that would keep me busy for the next three years. Not only did I have to learn this extemely difficult language from scratch: with every new element I discovered, the question became more urgent whether Bram Stoker had actually written this text.


This led me to a research project not less ambitious than the translation itself; the text seemed to contain various clues pointing to Stoker's personal input—such as a number of ideas documented in his early notes for Dracula, surfacing again in this exotic edition. Moreover, how could an Icelandic newspaper man have been familiar with the single interview Stoker gave on Dracula in summer 1897, setting Van Helsing apart as being based on a real person? At least the meaning of the Ripper remark could be decoded: the preface pointed to another series of crime that took place before the Whitechapel Murders—most probably the Thames Torso Murders of 1887-1889, that equally upset the London population and in the mind of many people seem to be connected with the Ripper homicides.


The story itself charmed me by its concise style and erotic atmosphere. Unlike Jonathan Harker, who felt disgusted by the three vampire ladies after his first encounter, his counterpart Thomas in the Icelandic version was irresistably attracted to the single blonde vampire girl playing a major role in the Icelandic version. Focusing mainly on Harker's stay in the Count's castle, Makt myrkranna had a shortened ending written in a rather sketchy stlye. The Count was terminated still in London, in his Carfax house—which triggered the question if this is parallel to the later stage and movie version was purely coincidental, or not.


My annotated translation, with a foreword by Dacre Stoker and an afterword by John Edgar Browning was released on 7 February 2017, by Overlook Press, New York, and received international attention. Reviews appeared, among others in The New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement and the Guardian. So strong was the wave of enthusiasm over this rediscovered sister of version of Dracula, that the buzz even reached Sweden. After returning from a trip to Asia I found a message from one Rickard Berghorn, a Swedish specialist for fantasy fiction. More about this in the chapter on Mörkrets makter.



  • "Makt Myrkranna—Mother of all Dracula Modifications?" Letter from Castle Dracula, the official news bulletin of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula, Special Icelandic Issue, pages 3-20. Published on 4 February 2014. Including revisions of 4 February 2014, 17:45 GMT+2.
  • "Bram Stoker’s Original Preface for Dracula Revealed?" Letter from Castle Dracula, the official news bulletin of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula, Special Easter Issue, pages 3-21. Published on 18 April 2014.
  • Powers of Darkness—The Lost Version of Dracula (with a foreword by Dacre Stoker and an afterword by John Edgar Browning). New York: Overlook Publishing/Abrams; London: Duckworth. Release date: 7 February 2017. Including:
    1. "Introduction: The Forgotten Book."
    2. "A Room with a View: The Floorplans of the Icelandic Castle Dracula.
  • "A Triplet Comes Seldom Alone." Updated introduction essay to the translation of Makt  myrkranna. Submitted on 8 April 2017. Published by Carbonio Editore, Milan, 2019, in the Italian edition of Powers of Darkness.