Bram Stokers dark Irish secrets

Bram Stoker: Centenary Essays

In Dublin this weekend, enthusiasts will be celebrating at the Bram Stoker Festival. This seems to be intended as a fun time for families to enjoy with spooks and demons galore, largely derived it has to be said from Hollywood rather than the actual pages of Bram Stoker himself.

Edited by Jarlath Killeen of TCD, this book represents the more serious and the more inquiring aspect of the extraordinary turnaround in the Victorian author’s reputation over the last couple of decades. It is a collection of 14 essays originally presented at a conference in 2012 to mark the centenary of Stoker’s death, by established critics and writers in the field.

We have to remember that Stoker was the author of many more books than Dracula, and that Dracula itself is less about vampires in Transylvania, a fairy land if ever there was one, than the reality of evil unloosed on north London by the advent of the truly diabolical count into the settled streets of genteel Hampstead.


It is this aspect of Stoker, the fantastic hinterland of unconscious fears and aspirations, that now makes the novels of interest. This book, published in Ireland, deals in large measure with the Irish aspects of Stoker’s work: the Sligo cholera outbreak in Under the Sunset, and the stereotypes of Irish people in fiction revealed in The Snake’s Pass. However, by far the best and the most interesting for the general reader who might be wondering what the fuss of critics and enthusiasts is all about, are the essays by Paul Murray on ‘Bram Stoker: The facts and the fictions’ which presents the results of scrupulous and exact Irish scholarship.

Never mind the carnival then, here is food for thought for anyone interested in little-explored aspects of Irish culture.