To celebrate World Book Day, Dr Hilary Weeks, Course Leader for English Literature at the University of Gloucestershire, talks about Bram Stokers Dracula (1897) and its relation to British and Irish vampire and Gothic fiction. As theatre manager to the famous impresario Sir Henry Irving, Stoker knew how to write for dramatic and sensational effect, and Dracula belongs partly to the late Victorian flowering of lurid sensation literature. However, his novel glances back to earlier, Romantic versions of the monstrous individual, such as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelleys Frankenstein (1818); the Count is a terrifying, degenerate version of the monster who longed for love and human exchange, and he infects Victorian London with the virus of the Nosferatu or Undead, from a ruined tomb in a forgotten land. Stoker articulates contemporary fears of Eastern Europe, and of immigration, and the Count's search for lebensraum foreshadows Nazi ideology. Hilary notes the enduring appeal of the vampire as an embodiment of sex, death and money, but also as a symbol of proliferation reproduction without mothers or bodies. Dracula investigates boundaries between the living and the dead, the East and West, the male and female, and, most frightening of all, between the human and non-human. Find out more about the University of Gloucestershire's English Literature course at www.glos.ac.uk
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Great Books – Dracula by Bram Stoker; discussed by Dr Hilary Weeks

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