THE SHADOWS OF DRACULA: A LIFE OF BRAM STOKER
There are those who maintain that Bram Stoker was a relatively
talentless hack who got lucky with one book, and spent the rest
of his time playing second fiddle to actor Henry Irving. It's
an opinion I don't necessarily agree with, but can certain understand.
Stoker's novels outside Dracula have little appeal,
and even his best known work is an overlong book which starts
out well but then completely fails to maintain its early momentum,
instead deteriorating into an extremely long-winded tale in which
little actually happens. When Christopher Lee complained about
film-makers not following the story of the novel accurately, he
was missing the point: a literal filmic interpretation of
Dracula would be like watching paint dry.
Paul Murray's book attempts to counter claims that Stoker was
a one hit wonder hack in this exhaustive and lengthy biography.
Murray certainly knows his subject, and gives a thorough account
of Stoker's life, from growing up in Ireland to working as a civil
servant to becoming manger of London's Lyceum Theatre, where he
worked with Irving. He also tackles - without actually reaching
any conclusions - the thorny subjects of Stoker's possible - on
the face of his suspiciously close relationship with Irving and
other men, probable - homosexuality and the claims that he died
While undoubtedly well written and researched, Murray's book falls
into much the same trap as Stoker's most famous novel, namely
that the bulk of it is taken up with detailed minutia that few
people will be interested in. Let's be honest - outside of his
novels, Stoker was a thoroughly average fellow, and the life story
of a civil servant turned theatrical manager is not a gripping
Recommended for Stoker completists only.
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