Special thanks to Andy Boylan, who put me in touch with Adrien Party, who was kind enough to go through Victor Hugo’s LA LEGENDE DES SIECLES (THE LEGEND OF THE CENTURIES) in its original French to see if indeed there is a passage that described Vlad Dracula and his battles with the Turkish Sultan. Gracias, guys! Or should that be “merci”?
I can now confirm, via Adrien, that the passage does in fact exist. Victor Hugo, author of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, LES MISERABLES, and THE MAN WHO LAUGHS, among numerous other works, put quill to parchment and wrote about Dracula some time between the years 1855 and 1876, at least two decades, and quite possibly more, before Bram Stoker! If Stoker ever read Hugo’s epic poem we have no record of it. I doubt he ever did.
Poetry that is lyrical and lovely in one language tends to come off considerably less than when translated, and this one is no exception. Here is the passage relating to Dracula, rendered into English:
“From Aden and Erzeroum [the Sultan] made broad pits, A mass grave of Modon overcome, and three clusters of corpses of Aleppo, Bush and Damascus; One day, tie of the arc, he took his son for target,
And killed him; Mourad Sultan was invincible; Vlad, boyard of Tarvis, called Beelzebub, Refused to pay to the Sultan his tribute, Takes the Turkish embassy and all makes it perish On thirty stakes, planted at the two edges of a road; Mourad runs, extreme harvests, barns, attics, The boyard beats, makes him twenty thousand prisoners, Then, around one immense and black battle field, Builds a very broad floor out of large stones, And made in the crenels, full with dreadful plaintive cries, To build and wall the twenty thousand prisoners,
Leaving holes by where one sees their eyes in the shade, And leaves, after having written on their dark wall: ‘Mourad, mason stone, with Vlad, grower of piles.’”