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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Guest: Bram Stoker (1)

- click to enlarge -

Ha, now, c'mon, what's the 'father' of Dracula to do with Torquato Tasso? The thin thread connecting them is --- a cable, a pipe! That is, Literature rereading the Genesis myth of the Garden / Forest / Tree / Fruit / Serpent / Woman. In this case, the work taken into consideration will be the last novel by Stoker, The Lair of the White Worm, 1911. To be sure, it's not considered his masterpiece: much too inconsistent and a bit boring, to say the least. But it turns into a fascinating book if one just reads it from different standpoints: a pre-Surrealist novel, suggested by unconscious associations; a ready-made or a collection of unfinished fragments; meta-literature in which Stoker reflects on the many different 'layers' in Dracula; and humor, a lot of humor. That's why, on the next Sundays, we'll be choosing some gems out of it.

In the picture above: a rendering of the White Worm, whose shape, in Stoker's descriptions, recalls the fossils of Basilosaurus that had been found just few decades earlier -- "few" with reference to 1860, the year in which the story is set. Basilosaurus was a prehistoric whale, but at that time often considered a sea serpent; actually, its skeleton is puzzling still nowadays, and reconstructions of its living body can vary a lot.