SOMETHING IN THE BLOOD Wham, fang, thank you Bram
released 28 OctOber 672 pages | Hardback/audiobook
Author david J skal Publisher liveright Publishing
Too much rich food late one night caused the nightmare that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, it’s said. Nocturnal nibblers may be relieved, then, to read in this substantial biography that although Stoker did indeed claim that a gutful of dressed crab gave him the horrors, the story was just “a dab of blarney the writer enjoyed dishing out”.
That’s the least of the myths of Dracula’s creation skewered by David J Skal; the “fact” that Stoker knew anything much about the history of the real-life Vlad Dracul gets impaled too. Skal shows how the Count coalesced in Stoker’s unconscious, the product of a sickly youth grown into a sexually conflicted Victorian theatre manager.
Stoker’s intimate connection to Oscar Wilde looms large, as does the way that his employer, monstrous actor Henry Irving, held him in a near-uncanny thrall. Many less familiar figures make walk-on appearances, though – including Wildeobsessed novelist George Sylvester Viereck, perhaps the first of Stoker’s many imitators. But the 70-plus pages given over to the seven years Stoker spent drafting and redrafting Dracula lie at the heart of this highly digestible feast. Alan Barnes
Stoker deleted an ending in which, after Drac’s death, Castle Dracula destroyed itself (like Poe’s House of Usher!).