Two Sharp Teeth

Philip Ball

  • Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote ‘Dracula’ by David J. Skal
    Norton, 672 pp, £15.99, October 2017, ISBN 978 1 63149 386 7
  • The Cambridge Companion to ‘Dracula’ edited by Roger Luckhurst
    Cambridge, 219 pp, £17.99, November 2017, ISBN 978 1 316 60708 4
  • The Vampire: A New History by Nick Groom
    Yale, 287 pp, £16.99, October, ISBN 978 0 300 23223 3

Few writers have seemed less likely to produce a modern myth than Bram Stoker, not only because of the limits of his ability and imagination but because for much of his life he was furiously overworked as house manager for Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre in London. Aside from Dracula, Stoker wrote nothing of note, and plenty that was excruciating. ‘There is a semi-heroic, Everyman quality about his intense command of the mediocre,’ the critic Ludovic Flow wrote, ‘as if the commonplace had found a champion who could wear its colours with all the ceremony of greatness.’ David Skal’s new biography of Stoker follows his 2004 study, Hollywood Gothic, which managed to take Dracula on page, stage and screen seriously, but not too seriously. It becomes clear reading the Cambridge Companion to ‘Dracula’ how difficult it is to find that balance.

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