Vampires, Mummies and Liberals

Bram Stoker and the Politics of Popular Fiction

Vampires, Mummies and Liberals

Book Pages: 232 Illustrations: Published: July 1996

Author: David Glover

Subjects
Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Literary Theory

Nearly a hundred years after its debut in 1897, Dracula is still one of the most popular of all Gothic narratives, always in print and continually adapted for stage and screen. Paradoxically, David Glover suggests, this very success has obscured the historical conditions and authorial circumstances of the novel’s production. By way of a long overdue return to the novels, short stories, essays, journalism, and correspondence of Bram Stoker, Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals reconstructs the cultural and political world that gave birth to Dracula. To bring Stoker’s life into productive relationship with his writing, Glover offers a reading that locates the author within the changing commercial contours of the late-Victorian public sphere and in which the methods of critical biography are displaced by those of cultural studies.
Glover’s efforts reveal a writer who was more wide-ranging and politically engaged than his current reputation suggests. An Irish Protestant and nationalist, Stoker nonetheless drew his political inspiration from English liberalism at a time of impending crisis, and the tradition’s contradictions and uncertainties haunt his work. At the heart of Stoker’s writing Glover exposes a preoccupation with those sciences and pseudo-sciences—from physiognomy and phrenology to eugenics and sexology—that seemed to cast doubt on the liberal faith in progress. He argues that Dracula should be read as a text torn between the stances of the colonizer and the colonized, unable to accept or reject the racialized images of backwardness that dogged debates about Irish nationhood. As it tracks the phantasmatic form given to questions of character and individuality, race and production, sexuality and gender, across the body of Stoker’s writing, Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals draws a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary transitional figure.
Combining psychoanalysis and cultural theory with detailed historical research, this book will be of interest to scholars of Victorian and Irish fiction and to those concerned with cultural studies and popular culture.

Praise

“[A] fine study. . . .Glover’s reading of Dracula is illuminating, opening as it does new historical contexts for understanding this much-analyzed novel.” — Stephen Arata, Victorian Studies

“Excellent. . . . Glover draws a compelling picture of the rich complexity (or confusion) of Stoker’s thought, and of the equally rich complexity of contemporary scientific discourse . . .” — William Galperin , Studies in English Literature

“Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals reveals Stoker as a writer caught between two ways of thought. . . . By far the best scholarly study of Stoker’s novels that I’ve encountered, the book is worth our attention because of its careful scholarship, insightful readings of the novels, ability to juggle a variety of texts from different disciplines, and bibliography. — Carol A. Senf , English Literature in Transition

“Excellent. In Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals Glover finally elaborates on the multiple and multiplying contradictions that emerge among the shifting political, racial, and sexual discourses with which Stoker’s works constantly intersect.” — David Lloyd, University of California, Berkeley

“Glover’s Stoker is far more interesting than the more typical sensationalized portraits of the author as vampire-wanna-be and more convincing than some of the fanciful and speculative interpretations of recent literary critics. Beautifully written, this is a study of considerable complexity and unfailing intelligence.” — Mary Poovey, Johns Hopkins University

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