Critical Insights: Dracula

Critical Insights Series

The series focuses on an individual author's entire body of work, a single work of literature, or a literary theme.

At a Glance
  • 1 Volume; 300 Pages
  • 10-14 essays offering Current Critical Analysis by Top Literary Scholars
  • Introductory Essay by the Editor
  • Chronology of Author's Life
  • Complete List of Author's Works
  • Publication Dates of Works
  • Detailed Bio of the Editor
  • General Bibliography
  • General Subject Index
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Editor: Jack Lynch,
    Associate Professor of English Rutgers University
September 2009 · 1 volume · 352 pages · 6"x9"

Includes Online Database with Print Purchase
ISBN: 978-1-58765-612-5
# of Pages: 352
# of Volumes: 1
Print List Price: $105
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e-ISBN: 978-1-58765-613-2
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In-depth critical discussions of Bram Stoker's novel - Plus complimentary, unlimited online access to the full content of this great literary reference.

Since its publication in 1897 Bram Stoker's Dracula has never been out of print, and-while many monsters have come before Dracula, and many since-Stoker's vampire has taken on an iconic status. On the surface, the novel is a classic tale of horror and suspense, a battle between good and evil, light and dark, the supernatural and the natural. However, a closer examination the novel opens up an intricate portrait of Victorian anxieties, leading contemporary scholars to often view the novel as the site of a battle between the old world and the new.

Edited by literary scholar Jack Lynch of Rutgers University, Newark, this volume in the Critical Insights series considers the Gothic classic from a variety of critical viewpoints. As Lynch points out in his introduction, Dracula received scant critical attention prior to the 1960s and 1970s-though much attention has been paid to the novel over the past few decades. Overview essays by Bridget M. Marshall and Camille-Yvette Welsch examine the literary history of the vampire and the critical reception of Stoker's most famous work respectively. Writers Matthew J. Bolton, Allan Johnson, and David Glover all consider Stoker's novel in the context of the waning days of the Victorian era as the creep of modernity threatened the period's established beliefs and values. Similarly Beth E. McDonald looks at the novel as its characters turn to sacred rituals as a way of avoiding change. Together, critic Carrol L. Fry and psychologist Carla Edwards examine the novel from a psychological perspective, exploring the connections the novel makes with some of our most deepest fears. Samuel Lyndon Gladden writes about the use of the word earnest in the novel as a link between Stoker and his one-time friend Oscar Wilde. Critic Jimmie E. Cain, Jr., analyzes the novel from a political perspective in the wake of the Crimean War while distinguished feminist critic Nancy Armstrong offers a survey of feminist readings before turning her attention to the notions of Utopia and individual fulfillment. The volume concludes with a sweeping essay that combines Marxist, feminist, and post-colonialist readings into a consideration on race, capitalism, and aesthetics.

Each essay is 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:

A chronology of the author's life
A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
A general bibliography
A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
Notes on the individual chapter authors
A subject index

From "About This Volume"
Dracula is ubiquitous. As I type this prefatory note, September is changing into October; by month's end, Dracula masks and vampire decorations will be everywhere. Bram Stoker, the Irish civil servantturned- theatrical manager, gave the world one of the great myths of the modern era. But while the cultural myth is omnipresent, the original novel has too often been ignored. This contribution to the Critical Insights series collects a number of critical studies with the aim of correcting the long neglect of the novel.

Unlike most other canonical works of literature, Dracula was nearly a century old before it was taken seriously by literary critics. The novel was successful enough on its original publication in 1897, and with each passing decade the Transylvanian Count became more familiar to the world at large. Still, scholars paid little attention to the world's most famous vampire. This critical oversight is clear in the most comprehensive survey of literary criticism published in the last century, the MLA International Bibliography. If we compare the number of articles on Bram Stoker to those of other major authors, we see increases between the 1950s and the 1990s across the board-the amount of literary criticism on virtually all authors has increased-but the rise in studies of Stoker is truly remarkable. Not every published study appears in the Bibliography, so these numbers are not definitive; they do, however, give us a sense of the relative rise in critical interest over time. Between 1950 and 1959, for instance, Charles Dickens was the subject of 312 items indexed in the Bibliography. Between 1990 and 1999, it had grown to 1,270; four times as many articles on Dickens, that is to say, were published in the 1990s as in the 1950s. The increase in Jane Austen scholarship has been even steeper: it went from 64 studies in the 1950s to 869 in the 1990s, an increase of 13.6 times. Another major nineteenth-century Gothic writer, Mary Shelley, went from a mere 12 articles in the 1950s to 443 in the 1990s, an increase of 37 times. But Stoker criticism virtually exploded over that same period, starting nearly at nothing: only two articles discussed him in the 1950s, compared to 208 in the 1990s, for an increase of 104 times. This means that most of the best criticism of Dracula has come in the last two decades, and the essays in this collection draw on that recent scholarship.

The volume opens with several introductory essays before moving on to a section headed "Critical Contexts," on Dracula's context and reception, containing a series of wide-ranging overviews of the author's works and career. A longer section, "Critical Readings," follows, with samples of critical close readings from a number of schools of thought. The volume is rounded out by a chronology of the important events in Stoker's life, a list of his works, and a bibliography with suggestions for further reading.