Science and Social Science in Bram Stoker's Fiction

Science and Social Science in Bram Stoker's Fiction

Science and Social Science in Bram Stoker's Fiction

Science and Social Science in Bram Stoker's Fiction

Synopsis

Best known today as the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker also wrote several other works, including The Jewel of Seven Stars, Lady Athlyne, and The Lair of the White Worm. While he is largely thought of as a Gothic author, he also employs science and technology in his writings. This book examines Stoker's familiarity with scientific discoveries of his day and his blending of science and technology with supernatural subject matter. Stoker, then, emerges as an early writer of science fiction. In addition, this book shows him to be a thoughtful critic of the role of science in society.

Excerpt

The name Bram Stoker is hardly a household word—or name. Indeed, Stoker's name had been almost entirely eclipsed by the title of his best-known work, Dracula (1897), until Frances Ford Coppola decided to include it in the title of his film Bram Stoker's Dracula (Columbia, 1992). This strategy has been copied by both Jeffrey Obrow, who adapted The Jewel of Seven Stars in Bram Stoker's The Mummy (Goldbar Entertainment, 1997), which he wrote and directed, and by Jamie Dixon, who directed Bram Stoker's Shadowbuilder (Studio Home Entertainment, 1997). People who view the latter film are unlikely to learn much about Stoker's original work, however.

Because of the undeniable popularity of Dracula, most people who think of Stoker at all today think of him as the writer of this one indisputably Gothic novel. For example, the brief entry on Stoker in The Oxford Companion to English Literature says that he “wrote a number of novels and short stories, as well as some dramatic criticism, but is chiefly remembered for Dracula,” a conclusion that is shared by the slightly more complete entry in Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia, which notes that his reputation depends on “a single Gothic novel: Dracula.” Apparently thinking of Dracula as well, Stephen Arata, who has written elsewhere on Stoker and should therefore know better, refers to “the Gothic tales of Robert Louis Stevenson and Bram Stoker” in his entry on 1897.

Even Stoker's biographers, individuals who know more about the man than do most other people, have contributed to this oversimplification, all of them including the word Dracula in their titles: Harry Ludlam, A Biography of Dracula: The Life Story of Bram Stoker (1962); Daniel Farson, The Man Who Wrote Dracula: A Biography of Bram Stoker (1975); and Barbara Belford, Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of Dracula (1996). Judging from the titles makes it seem as though the man had been subsumed by his most famous book. In fact, Farson, whose grandfather was Bram's brother Tom and who therefore had access to a number of family stories, describes his great uncle as “one of the least known authors of one of the best known books ever written” (ix). Belford,

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