Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of Dracula

Barbara Belford, Author Alfred A. Knopf $30 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-41832-0
Bram Stoker's son claimed that the plot of Dracula (1897) came to his father ""in a nightmarish dream after eating too much dressed crab.'' Despite some melodramatic prose, that comment is as exciting as this biography of Stoker (1847-1912) gets. How a boring Victorian Dubliner could have produced the creepiest horror novel of his time remains one of the mysteries of fictional creativity. Belford, biographer of Violet Hunt, has struggled with the problem and sees in Stoker's mesmerizing employer, actor-impresario Henry Irving, the sinister reflection of Vlad the Impaler, but the part-time author, who was the business manager of the Lyceum Theatre, remains bloodless. A tempestuous inner life, fired by sexual frustration (although Stoker was married to an Irish beauty) and omnivorous reading in lurid subliterature, is as close to a solution as we get here. Since Stoker's routine, whether Irving's company traveled or stayed put, was prosaic, Belford often segues to his London acquaintances or his restaurant menus, and sights foreshadowings of Dracula far and near. For those who have been frozen in their armchairs by the spell of Stoker's unforgettable vampire, or who are riveted by its hardly hidden sexual pathology, Stoker's life will be an anticlimax. Illustrations. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Hardcover - 978-0-517-30759-5
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