Found this gem at a bookstore just outside Stoker's alma mater Trinity College in Dublin last month. It's a new book – the first English translation of the Icelandic translation. Now that would sound like a fool's errand – translating a book back into its original language, and that's why no one did it for over century, but I recently read some scholarship from a few months back in David Skal's new biography of Stoker Something in the Blood that I posted on last November.
What Skal noted that I'd never seen previously is track down what was apparently a dramatically different initial draft of Dracula which only exists theoretically as a potential source for an Icelandic ripoff. A "translation" of Dracula that was published in Iceland but which had never been completely translated into English has always been assumed to be simply a poor translation, but Skal theorized based on the characters and limited portions that have been translated, that the Icelandic version was actually taken from an early draft of the book, which bore little resemblance to what was eventually published.
The significance of this is that at the time Stoker was working on the book, his friend Oscar Wilde's trial for homosexual behavior was making association with him toxic in London society, and a number of the sub themes of the book, as well as the setting of the climax bore not-so-subtle indications of association with an Oscar Wilde –-ish character, or at least conduct. The differences between the earlier draft in the final draft indicate that it is at least possible and probably likely that Stoker intentionally eliminated much of the activity that might have evoked echoes of Wilde, giving us the novel that we know today.
This complete translation confirms that this isn't merely a translation of Stoker's book, and references to characters and themes that we know were in earlier drafts but later deleted make clear that it wasn't simply the Icelandic translator rewriting the story, although it is likely that the more overtly sexual references in the story are Icelandic in origin – and this is a far more overtly erotic book than Stoker's. Skal suspects it was based on an earlier version of the novel which had been sent to an acquaintance of Stoker's friend Caine for substantial reworking. The reworking didn't happen, but the draft could have become the basis for a knockoff when the book became a hit – although why the Icelandic translator would work off an earlier draft when the final version was available isn't clear. Supporting that is the biggest difference between the two novels. While the first half continues to be a first person account by Jonathan Harker from his journals, the second have is a third person summary of the action in what would later become the diary and other excerpts in the final novel. And I use the word "summary" on purpose, because the book stops being a novel and starts being a story outline from which the chapters will later be written. So wherever this book came from, it was not a finished novel when the Icelandic author started working on it.
As such, the book is a fascinating additional piece of the puzzle that's always interested me – how did Bram Stoker write such a masterpiece. What were his sources, and why did he tell the story the way that he did. Powers of Darkness tells us that he originally intended a very different story, and it's new twist that he appears to have bowdlerized his own novel to keep a sufficient distance from the scandal that was enveloping Oscar Wilde.