No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be – Jonathan Harker in 'Dracula'
Earlier this year saw the premier of the television series ‘Penny Dreadful’. Led by a cast littered with high profile names this series has seen locations around Dublin transformed into Victorian London as old gothic tales are reimagined and brought to life for modern audiences. With vampires and the undead laying at the heart of the drama it is not surprising that the streets of Bram Stoker’s hometown was chosen as the main set for the series.
This is just the latest in a long string of works that have retold or been influenced by the great Victorian gothic horror, ‘Dracula’. First published in 1897 this story tells the tale of the Transylvanian Count Dracula and his journey from his home castle to the streets of Victorian London. Told in a series of letters, articles and logs this tale traces the destruction and woe the count sews across Victorian London as it emerges that he is a dreaded bloodsucking vampire of the night.
Christopher Lee as Dracula in Horror Hammer's 'Dracula'
Though not the first, nor the last, of his writings it soon became evident that ‘Dracula’ was Stoker’s masterpiece. Yet on publication this tale was merely regarded as a good work of gothic fiction and joined the sea of books that were filed away under that genre. Though a few authors and characters would become immortalised by the Victorian Gothic movement the advent of cinema and horror movies would see Stoker rise preeminent above authors like Wilde, Poe, and Shelley. This rise was solely down to the figure of Dracula who has singlehandedly made Bram Stoker one of the most important and influential writers of history.
Today the shadow of ‘Dracula’ lies across the literary and artistic world, insidiously lurking in our collected subconscious and crafting our nightmares. The popular image of vampires is today still dominated by Stoker’s interpretation and imagining of this ancient myth. From ‘Buffy’, ‘Blade’, and ‘Twilight’ to ‘Penny Dreadful’ and ‘American Vampire’, Stoker’s iconic work lives on.
Yet there is more to this man from Clontarf than one story about a vampire’s visit to London. ‘Talking Books’ takes a look back at the life and work of Abraham ‘Bram’ Stoker with Paul Murray, author of ‘From the Shadow of Dracula, a life of Bram Stoker’, and Dr Jarleth Killeen, editor of ‘Bram Stoker – Centenary Essays’. Join us as we travel back to the Victorian era and the silhouette of Dublin Castle. Visit the London streets and theatre trod by Stoker’s soles. Journey with us into the ‘The Lair of the White Worm’, and unravel the tale of Bram Stoker’s life and his legacy.
We stay with Dublin in the second part of this week’s ‘Talking Books’ as Susan speaks with Michael O’Brien, co-founder of the O’Brien Press, about the state of publishing in Ireland and the wider world. For the past four decades the O’Brien Press has published over 2,000 books, establishing itself as one of Ireland’s leading publishers. Yet they are not immune to the new challenges and issues facing the publishing industry in Ireland as a result of technological advances and the economic recession.
This month’s ‘Books Ireland’ magazine features an opinion piece by Michael on the current state of the publishing industry in Ireland and the challenges that it faces. Join Susan as she talks with Michael about his article, ‘A Nasty Twist in the Tail for Irish Books’, and assesses the future of publishing in Ireland and the wider world.
Finishing off this week's show Susan turns to the world of political activism and lyrical words as she talks with acclaimed poet Nikky Finney about her life and writing and how both have been suffused with social activism. Born in South Carolina in 1957 Nikky came of an age during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement. Her mother and father were a teacher and lawyer respectively and very much involved in the struggle for racial equality and civil rights.
This commitment to social activism emerged as a main theme of Nikky’s writing as she established herself as a poet and author. In 1985 her first book of collected poetry was published. ‘On Wings Made of Gauze’ established her as an American poet and in the subsequent years she has continued to write and publish prolifically, picking up numerous awards along the way. One thing that has remained consistent throughout, however, is Nikky’s commitment to social justice and activism.
Join Susan as she talks with Nikky about her life, the importance of poetry, and how politics and activism impacts on everything around us in our day to day life.