Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula

Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula

by David J. Skal

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Overview

A groundbreaking biography reveals the haunted origins of the man who created Dracula and traces the psychosexual contours of late Victorian society.

First published in 1897, Dracula has had a long and multifaceted afterlife—one rivaling even its immortal creation; yet Bram Stoker has remained a hovering specter in this pervasive mythology. In Something in the Blood, David J. Skal exhumes the inner world and strange genius of the writer who birthed an undying cultural icon, painting an astonishing portrait of the age in which Stoker was born—a time when death was no metaphor but a constant threat easily imagined as a character existing in flesh and blood.

Just as in his celebrated histories The Monster Show and Hollywood Gothic, Skal draws on a wealth of newly discovered documents with "the skills of a fine detective" (New York Times Book Review) to challenge much of our accepted wisdom about Dracula, Stoker, and the late Victorian age. Staging Stoker’s life against a grisly tableau of the myriad anxieties plaguing the Victorian fin de siecle, Skal investigates Stoker’s "transgendered imagination," unearthing Stoker’s unpublished, sexually ambiguous poetry and his passionate youthful correspondence with Walt Whitman—printed in full here for the very first time.

Born into a middle-class Protestant family in Dublin in "Black 47"—the year the potato famine swept the country—Stoker was inexplicably paralyzed as a boy, and his early years unfold alongside a parade of Victorian medical mysteries and horrors: cholera and typhus, frantic bloodletting, mesmeric quack cures, and the gnawing obsession with “bad blood” that colors Dracula. While destined to become best known for his legendary undead count, Bram Stoker would become a prolific writer, critic, and theater producer, rubbing shoulders with Henry Irving, Hall Caine, and Lady Jane Wilde and her salon set—including her fated-to-be-infamous son Oscar.

In this probing psychological and cultural portrait of the man who brought us one of the most memorable monsters in history, Skal reveals a lifetime spent wrestling with the greatest questions of an era—a time riddled by disease, competing attitudes toward sex and gender, and unprecedented scientific innovation accompanied by rising paranoia and crises of faith. Stoker’s battle resulted in a resilient modern folktale that continues to shock and enthrall; perhaps the most frightening thing about Dracula, Skal writes, "is the strong probability that it meant far less to Bram Stoker than it has come to mean to us."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631490101
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Pages: 672
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 2.20(d)

About the Author

David J. Skal is a leading American cultural historian and critic of horror films and Gothic literature. The author of The Monster Show and Hollywood Gothic, he lives in Glendale, California.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Bram Stoker: The Final Curtain? xiii

Chapter 1 The Child That Went with the Fairies 1

Chapter 2 Mesmeric Influences 45

Chapter 3 Songs of Calamus, Songs of Sappho 85

Chapter 4 Engagements and Commitments 141

Chapter 5 Londoners 191

Chapter 6 Pantomimes from Hell 239

Chapter 7 The Isle of Men 273

Chapter 8 A Land Beyond the Forest 305

Chapter 9 Undead Oscar 379

Chapter 10 Mortal Coils 423

Chapter 11 The Curse of Dracula 499

Acknowledgments 581

Notes 585

Bibliography 615

Index 629

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