by DAVID HORSPOOL
I have never seen the point of reading an author because it's his anniversary, so I was rather surprised to discover today that it is 100 years since Bram Stoker's death, and it so happens that I am reading Dracula. Not rereading, I'm afraid (it has taken this long to get over a very deep-seated childhood fear of anything vampirish, which developed without a break into a deep-seated adult ennui at most vampire films and tv programmes).
I won't presume to pronounce on the book's virtues (though I will say that it's keeping me awake at night, so something's working), but the character of Jonathan Harker did prompt a thought about something else: sympathetically portrayed lawyers in literature. I suspect Harker isn't going to turn out all good (don't spoil it for me), but he's likeable enough at the beginning, fearlessly plunging deeper into Transylvania while everyone around him makes it achingly clear that it's a very bad idea. I like, too, that he seems genuinely preoccupied with seeking out local recipes (all big on paprika) to bring back to Mina. I realize he isn't the keenest of minds (cautious and risk-averse characters don't make for very good horror set-ups:"Don't go into the attic!" "No, I won't, it sounds absolutely terrifying."). But I can't help liking him.
Most literary lawyers are rather less heroic, less personable, more dried up, more like Mr Tulkinghorn. There are decent ones, but they tend to be advocates, barristers like Horace Rumpole or defence attorneys like Atticus Finch. Harker is a solicitor, a rather less glamorous type (his mission to Castle Dracula is to get some property documents signed; it's good that he has used his "Kodak" to take a picture of the place to show the Count). Solicitors are the sort of lawyers who account for the popularity of those coffee mugs that say, quoting Shakespeare, "Let's kill all the lawyers" -- mostly of course, owned by lawyers. I'm sure there are more examples of rounded, non-criminal lawyers in English letters, discounting those created by the likes of John Grisham or Scott Turow. But where should I look?